“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
General George Patton is quoted as the source of the phrase. But then, so is Vince Lombardi. Both were convinced it is true that “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”
We don’t know that Jesus ever expressed that thought in those words, but he certainly put that message into practice. As sometimes happens in the lives of the followers of Jesus, the disciples found themselves caught in a vortex of emotions. They were buffeted by the alternating waves of heated excitement and mind-numbing shock. Wondrous victory had been followed by deadly retaliation.
Jesus had sent the Twelve on a preaching, teaching, and healing mission. They returned to report success. Demons were driven out. The sick were healed. And the call to repentance was accepted. They could report back: Mission accomplished!
Then came the shocking news: John the Baptist had been beheaded!
Saint Matthew gives details: “His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus” (Matthew 14:11).
What were the disciples of Jesus to think? Besides, so many people were coming and going around them that they didn’t even have time to eat, much less collect their thoughts.
Physically drained and emotionally shocked, what should they do now?
They were not to quit. They were not to quiver in fear. They were to “Take five!”
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Fatigue makes cowards of us all.
There’s a reason why troops are rotated in and out of combat zones. The best trained, best equipped, and most experienced warriors will wear down under the constant strain of battle.
So will those who fight under the banner of Christ against foes seen and unseen.
When Jesus called his disciples aside to take a break, it was to refresh both bodies and souls.
The powerful Creator had set the example. The Bible tells us, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy” (Genesis 2:2,3).
It should be no surprise to learn that he also carefully provided rest for his creation.
Nightfall and changing seasons provide times to refresh and renew. Plants and animals need that. Human minds and bodies begin to break down without it. Human souls are desperate for it.
But souls need more than a short nap or a vacation getaway.
Souls need to find rest in the arms of their Savior God.
The Lord provided his Old Testament people one day of rest each week. He called it the Sabbath. Both animals and humans were commanded to do no labor on that day. It was to be a day of rest for bodies—but also for souls.
Souls are refreshed only by the Holy Spirit as he works through God’s Word and sacraments.
Though the command to cease from labor on a certain day of the week no longer remains, the invitation for the soul to find rest in this often chaotic and threatening world still stands.
There is no shame in admitting the need for a break. Our Commander already knows it.
He knows us better than we know ourselves. He has seen our past. He observes our present. He knows our future. He knows all our needs.
He sacrificed himself for us before we saw any need for rescue.
As he did with those first disciples, so he would tell us not to try to carry the load all by ourselves. He invites: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
When stressed and tired, when weighed down by regret and doubt, Jesus invites us to draw near to him and take a break from all the pressures in life. He bids us to “Take five!”
Prayer: Jesus, Rock of Ages, let me hide myself in thee. Amen.
Points to ponder:
- It has been said, “I want to burn myself out for Christ.” Good idea, or not?
- John’s disciples took the first step to overcome their grief. What was it and why?
- What’s wrong with the approach “Driven to succeed”?
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.