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by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan, Pastor

A lesson given at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, September 27, 2020

Hymn Sung Before the Lesson:
     “Teach Me to Pray” (by Albert S. Reitz, 1879-1966).

“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat”
(Mark 6:31; p. 1053 Scofield).

I am lifting out as our text a few words from the middle of the verse, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while.” You might pass over those words when you find them in the Bible. The verse does not speak of Christ’s death, nor of His resurrection. It is not part of the Sermon on the Mount. It does not give the Lord’s Prayer. But there it is in the Bible, and it is never wise to ignore God’s Word. This verse is just as much the Word of God as John 3:16. Because it is God’s Word, it is living and powerful (see Hebrews 4:12). There are deep truths for you in the simple words of this verse. This afternoon I want to answer four questions from our text.

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I. First, Christ said this.

“Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).

Who told the Disciples to come apart into the desert and rest? Was it doubting Thomas? Was it Judas the traitor? Was it Peter, the man who would deny Christ? No, it was Jesus Himself. Verse 30 says, “The apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things” (Mark 6:30). Then verse 31 says, “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).

You may think, “That doesn’t sound like Jesus to me. Didn’t He speak of suffering and pain?” It is true that Jesus said, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day” (Luke 9:22; p. 1086). And in the next verse He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Jesus spoke of suffering and self-denial, for Himself and for anyone who follows Him. So it may seem strange to you that Christ would tell His Disciples to rest – but He did. Jesus, the Son of God, spoke of rest as surely as He spoke of His own death.

Christ was not like a musician who plays only one note. The same Jesus who said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan” (Matthew 16:23; p. 1022) also said to Peter, “Peace be unto you” (John 20:21; p. 1144). Christ was just like His Father. The Bible says, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29; p. 1304) and it says, “God is love” (I John 4:8; p. 1324). You have a full and complete God. You have a full and complete Christ, a man of all seriousness and a man of all kindness. Jesus spoke both in rebuke and in love. He was fully man, like you, only without sin. Jesus ate food like you. He got tired and slept just as you do. And He said to His Disciples, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). Today God’s Word says the same thing to our church, and to you. Come apart and rest.

II. Second, what did Christ tell them to do?

Jesus said to them, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). That day He did not tell them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15; p. 1069). There would be time for that later. Instead He told them, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while.” You may think, “Is that all? Weren’t they wasting time? Shouldn’t they be doing something?” But they were doing something. They were going into the desert by themselves and resting. That’s as important as anything else.

God is not a slave-driver. He knows you need rest. He knows you need to eat and sleep. When Elijah hid from Jezebel’s men, God sent an angel and gave him food and water (see I Kings 19:1-7; p. 414). The Scofield heading at the beginning of that chapter says it well, “Jehovah’s tender care of his overwrought prophet.” The word “overwrought” means “anxious, excited, worried, nervous, tense, on edge.” Have you ever felt like that? Remember that God cares for you as He did for Elijah.

Jesus is like His Father. He cares for you too. He is not a hireling who “careth not for the sheep” and “fleeth” (John 10:13; p. 1129). He is not like Chan who left, thinking only of himself and then attacked like a wolf to kill and destroy (John 10:10). Jesus cares for His sheep. He cares about you. He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:15). Jesus cares for you. That is why He wants you to rest. And this brings me to the next point.

III. Third, why do you think Christ told them this?

“Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).

You may think Christ told them to do this so they could pray and fast. But the verse never tells us that. It does not mention prayer or fasting. You may think that Christ told the Disciples to go apart into the desert to get away from the sin of the world. But the verse does not tell us that. It does not mention the world or its sin. The answer is in the words of the text itself: Christ told them to rest.

As the radio Bible teacher Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “It is impossible for us to understand how really busy the Lord Jesus was and how great the demands were upon Him. He had to withdraw to an uninhabited place in an attempt to rest and let His apostles rest” (Thru the Bible, volume 4, p. 186; note on Mark 6:30-31).

Our text says, “There were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat” (Mark 6:31). There was a lot going on. Christ and His Disciples didn’t even have time to eat. They needed to rest. You ask, “Even Jesus?” Yes, for He was human, like us in every way except sin. The Bible says, “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our [weaknesses]; but was in all points [tested] like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15; p. 1294). Jesus got hungry. He needed to eat. Jesus got tired. He needed to rest.

There is always something to do. You have had many times when you worked hard. People were coming and going. One thing happened after the other. That is fine. The Christian life is a life of work. But there is also time to rest, just as Jesus and His Disciples rested.

There are things to learn and do that cannot be learned and done in the rush of activity. You cannot learn to pray where everyone is coming and going, talking and shouting, while you run here and there. You must be apart, alone with God, meditating on His Word, bringing your prayers to Him, entering into the holiest place by the Blood of Jesus (see Hebrews 10:19; p. 1300). Being with God is like no other activity. It is far better. While Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39; p. 1089), her sister Martha was “cumbered about much serving” (Luke 10:40). Christ said, “Mary hath chosen that good part” (Luke 10:42). There is always time for “much serving.” But only in coming apart with Jesus can you have “that good part,” the better part.

Now you have more time for the better part. You have time to think about God’s Word. You have time to pray. I am glad that Dr. Hymers has taught us about prayer. Think about what he says and learn from it. Now is the time to pray. Now is the time to know God better. This time is a gift from God. As Jesus said, “Come ye yourselves apart…and rest a while.”

There was another reason why it was time to come apart and rest. The Disciples had just heard about the beheading of John the Baptist. King Herod had John’s head cut off (Mark 6:27). The Bible says, “[John’s] disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus” (Matthew 14:12). If the Apostles didn’t know about John’s death before, they certainly knew then. This caused them great sorrow. It was John who had baptized many of them. It was John who pointed his disciples to Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29; p. 1115). This was terrible news. No wonder Jesus said to them, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). They needed to do that. That is another reason why Christ told them to come apart and rest.

IV. Fourth, for how long did Christ tell them to do this?

Christ said, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). How long did they rest? The Bible does not tell us. It just says, “a while.” How long is a while? As long as it needs to be!

And so it is with you. You have times of rest of different lengths. At work you have a break for a few minutes in the morning, and again in the afternoon. Once a year you take a vacation and rest for a longer time. We do not know how long the Apostles rested. It was as long as they needed, for Christ the Good Shepherd was watching over them. He knew what they needed. And Jesus will give you as much rest as you need.


“Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).

In our church we have been resting. In one way the coronavirus has forced this upon us. We cannot evangelize at the schools, for they are closed. The pagan Governor of California forces us to wear masks. Others wear masks too. They are scared, far more scared than they need to be. They do not want to go to a place with people they don’t know. And so we rest.

There is another reason why you are resting. God has provided this rest for you. The Disciples were sad when John the Baptist was killed. You have suffered through bad news too. You have been through a church split led by Chan and Waldrip. They have caused you pain. We are here and we will survive and grow. But you have had sorrow. Now is a time to rest. God has given you this rest. He cared for Elijah, His prophet. And Christ cares for you too, for He is the Good Shepherd. Take this time to rest.

There is a time for everything. The Bible says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1; p. 698). There is a time to fast and a time to eat. There is a time to work and a time to rest. This is a time of rest.

This is a time for you to learn about prayer – and to pray. Listen to the messages Dr. Hymers has given. They are like gold. Think about the lessons and do what they say. God Himself is the greatest treasure of all. Take time for Him. Pray to Him. Get closer to Him. In the time that you used to be busy, take time to pray.

Rest and quietness apart is as important as work, and even more important. God said, “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work” (Exodus 20:9, 10; p. 95). In the church age the Lord’s Day is the day Jesus rose from the dead – Sunday. That day is not for our work in the world. It is set apart for God. It is the most important day of the week, not the least.

But Jesus said more about that day. Jesus said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27; p. 1048). Jesus knew that the special day was made for us. It was made to give us time to rest and be with God. Use that day of rest for God, to rest your body and soul and to get closer to Him. Get the rest you need.

We are not Sabbatarians, but we do agree with Pastor Buckley of Phoenix, Arizona, who said,

“When we trust God and rest, He can give us insights and understanding which make us more fruitful in the long run than it would be if we worked seven days a week. The bottom line is that God has made the sabbath for man because we need it. I am not advocating for spiritual legalism. I am encouraging you to set aside time to rest so you can be healthy. God rewards our obedience, and eventually the truths of Scripture are revealed to those who obey them” (pp. 209-210 of From Darkness Into Light: My Journey by Mark Buckley, published by; Mark Buckley Ministries, 7000 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85020).

After He rested, Christ went back to work. He taught many people and fed the five thousand (see Mark 6:34-44). There will come a time to work. But the Bible says, “To everything there is a season.” This is a time to rest. Rest and gather strength. Come out rested. Come out closer to God in prayer. Come out a better Christian! Amen.