Over the past century we have come to know – because of advances in science and theology – that Mark’s gospel was the first of the four to be written. As such, there is more of a slant toward the humanity of Jesus than, for example, in the gospel of John (the last of the four) which did not appear until the beginning of the second century and was highly influenced by Greek philosophy, tending toward the divinity of Christ. This morning Mark gives us two examples of the humanity of Jesus (MK 6:30-34).
The apostles have come back from a missionary trip and are reporting “all that they had done and said.” Jesus, ever the compassionate one, says to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” It’s as if a pastor noted all the work his staff had put into the activities of the Lenten season and said to them during Easter week, “Let’s find a place where we can have a nice lunch and maybe go swimming or catch a movie…” just to be together and be at peace. It might be easier to accomplish that now than in the situation of the apostles when the crowd saw them leave in a boat, figured out where they were going and followed them, so that when they disembarked there was a “vast crowd” already gathered. Scripture tells us that when Jesus saw them all “his heart was moved with pity for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”
These are images of a fully human Jesus who recognized the burdens of ministry and tried for some “down time” with those closest to him. Couples who have babies know what that’s like as do AA sponsors or doctors or maybe even all the rest of us. It’s hard not to be moved by the needs we see around us and do our best to respond. I hope that there was enough time in the boat to be restorative for the apostles and Jesus, just as those little breaks sometimes refresh tired souls in our day. We need those moments, as Jesus knew, to refresh ourselves and carry on.
This morning I’m grateful for Jesus, the fully human man, who was always concerned for those he loved and those he had never met until one moment when they showed up in a crowd. I want to be like him – compassionate and generous and, yes, knowing also the need for rest.