Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

by Bear Wade

Resting in Christ
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 11)
Analysis by Lori A. Cornell

Mark 6: 30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. . . . 53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54 When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55 and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.


Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem) – Harassed
Jesus attempts to steal away with his disciples to a deserted place so that they might find rest. “Come away . . . and rest a while” (v. 31), he wisely tells the disciples. Jesus knows that rest is essential if the disciples are to be effective in preaching and healing as they have been commissioned to do (6:12, 13). He also knows that the people are unrelenting in their needs-he and the disciples barely have time to eat, let alone rest. Jesus and the disciples are harassed.

Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem) – Helpless
No sooner does Jesus succeed in getting away with the disciples than he finds that the crowds have anticipated his move and arrived ahead of him to his next destination. But here is where this story of harassment takes an interesting twist because, seeing the crowd, Jesus realizes that he has more important things to do than rest with his disciples. The people who follow him and meet him are not only harassed (as he and the disciples find they have been), but no one is willing or able to help them. The crowds are helpless.

Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem) – Shepherdless
These helpless folks are desperate for more than healing. In fact, Jesus understands that they are horribly lost-“like sheep without a shepherd” (v. 34). Not only are they counted as lost to the world (desperate and sick as they are), but apparently they are lost to God also. They have no shepherd, and so can find no rest.

PROGNOSIS: Resting in Christ

Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution) – Shepherded
The world counts such “shepherdless” people as lost (even God-forsaken, we might say), but Jesus does not. In fact, immediately Jesus has compassion on them and stays by their side to “teach them many things” (v. 34). And in Jesus, the desperate and sick find rest. But Jesus’ compassion goes much further than that-all the way to the cross and grave, in fact. And there, he provides rest and help for every person who will ever be lost or restless-that is, all of us. Because Christ shows God’s deepest compassion for the lost on the cross, we know that God does not dispense with the lost; instead, God seeks them out and shepherds them in Christ Jesus. In Christ we can rest in the security that we have a divine Shepherd to guard us and guide us.

Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution) – Helped
Like sheep sought out by the most careful shepherd, each of is found in Christ. Because Christ died on the cross, we are no longer lost to God. Instead, we can personally rest in the assurance that God is with and for us through Jesus Christ. Augustine put it this way: “Our hearts are restless, until they rest in Thee.” As believers we take consolation in the news that God will not rest (as Christ did not rest, vv. 34, 56), until he has wholly restored our relationship with him. And when we are restless, we can find rest in the arms of this loving Shepherd.

Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution) – Compassionate
Our Shepherd not only guards us, he also guides us (“in right pathways,” Psalm 23 says). We, who have found rest in Christ, are also led to reach out with compassion as he did (v. 34). And we do so knowing, like the disciples, that we may find ourselves besieged by the demands of the needy around us. But in love and gratitude we refuse to rest until the needy know Christ’s compassion in our deeds of healing and preaching.


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