The disciples had just returned from a missions trip with a crowd following them, keeping them so busy they are not even able to sit down and eat. Jesus, showing compassion, says Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. (Mark 6.31)
Jesus not only said to them take a break, he also instructed them (and us) about Biblical rest. While we can feel guilty about rest, Jesus encourages us to take a break. What do we learn about rest in this passage?
First rest comes after busyness. Leisure is not leisure if you are in leisure mode all the time - that is laziness. Rest or leisure comes after work - hard work. The disciples had worked hard and now it was time to enjoy some rest.
Second rest is quietness. I don't think this means keeping the children quiet or going into the deep forest were there is no noise. Quietness, if we can put it this way, is to be quiet from the noise that makes you busy. It is separation from busyness. So, for example, if you are working, quietness would be separating yourself from work where you do not hear the noise of work.
Third rest restores us for further service for Christ. I believe this is where there is much confusion about rest. You may think, well, does that mean all I do is read my Bible and pray? Is that rest? Well - no. There is rest in God's creation as you garden, play with your children, date your wife, read, exercise, knit, play the piano, listen to music, watch TV, and enjoy a hockey game. The question to be asked is do you enter your work and your service for God with a greater desire to serve Him for His glory and His kingdom after you rest? That means we must chose our rest wisely. For instance, if you chose some rest that leaves you physically exhausted, that will not restore your body. ANother example is if you rest while watching TV that dishonours God, your body may be rested but your soul is not ready to serve. It is good to be intentional about our rest and ask God to bless it so we may serve Him with greater passion!
Why is rest so important? I believe rest is essential because the spiritual battle demands physical strength. Remember when your body is weak that the attacks seem to be the greatest. And so those who never rest or exercise - they become spiritually tired and sluggish.
This also emphasizes the importance of Sundays when two great blessings meet - spiritual rest as we worship together and physical rest as we spend time apart from our work. While not being a Sabbatarian, I believe a major reason we are so spiritually lethargic is because we scrimp on spiritual rest. We think 1 hour of public worship a week will cut it but in fact we become tired with the cares of this world and the burdens of this life.
Jesus says - come with me, to a quiet place and get some rest so that you may be better able to serve the master. Come, rest and be restored for the glory of God.