Come and Rest Awhile
James Smith, 1860
"Come with Me by yourselves to a desert place and rest a while." Mark 6:31
Retirement is necessary for the soul's health, and occasional solitude must be profitable to the believer. Many of us live too much in public. We are excited and carried away by public meetings, committees, societies, and such like things; until like the Spouse, being made keepers of the vineyards of others — our own vineyards are not kept. Our Lord and his disciples required retirement, and therefore when there had been considerable excitement, he said, "Come with Me by yourselves to a desert place and rest a while."
THE PLACE TO BE VISITED. Not a pleasant watering place, not a city home — but a desert place. He sought solitude, and any solitary place where he would be free from the coming and going would do. He never consulted the flesh, or sought for the gratification of the animal part of man. But the desert would be a place of few temptations; for though with a corrupt nature and a tempting devil, we shall meet with temptations everywhere — yet the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, have not the power in the desert, which they have in the crowded city.
It was a place where they could think calmly, converse freely, and pray socially. Just so, we need time for thinking on divine subjects, opportunities to converse touching the King, and places for social prayer. Jesus still calls his people to "Come with Me by yourselves to a desert place and rest a while."
Sometimes into the desert of bodily affliction, when they are shut out from society, business, and the cares of the world.
Sometimes to a distance from friends, so that we are pretty much alone, lover and friend being put far from us.
And sometimes bereavements and sore trials, seem to turn the world into a desert.
In all these cases we should hear the voice of Jesus saying unto us, "Come with Me by yourselves to a desert place and rest a while." Such times seem to be represented by those spots of earth which appear barren, lonely, and uncomfortable — but they are spiritually profitable.
THE INVITATION GIVEN. "Come with Me." Jesus does not say "Go," but "Come," for he intended to accompany them. We may venture anywhere with Jesus. We never need fear if he calls us, and proposes to go with us. "Come with Me," says he, "I will go with you into the desert of affliction, temptation, or pain."
As he said to Jacob, "Fear not to go down into Egypt, for I will go with you," so Jesus will go with us. "Come alone with Me," says he, "I will separate you from others, that I may enjoy your society myself." But for the sick room, the deep trial, the stripping dispensation — Jesus would have but little of our company alone.
"Come with Me by yourselves to a desert place and rest a while — for it is NECESSARY." If grace is to thrive, if our religion is to deepen, if we are to be prepared for duty and for Heaven, we must occasionally at least go alone with Jesus.
"Come alone with Me, that I may enjoy your society, and impart special instruction." Jesus teaches us some of his most precious lessons, when we are alone with him. O that we spent more time alone with Jesus, and enjoyed more sweet, heart-affecting, communion with him!
THE DESIGN EXPRESSED. "Come with Me by yourselves to a desert place and rest a while." They had been actively employed. They had labored hard and long. They needed repose and rest. Jesus sympathized with them. He therefore draws them from society and the field of labor — into the desert for rest. "Come and rest."
"Come with Me by yourselves and rest from labor in my cause." This is needful, for we cannot be always at work, and yet often a short rest is sufficient to stimulate us to start afresh.
"Come with Me by yourselves and rest from conflict and contention." Conflict with Satan is bad enough — but contention with other people is worse — and yet at times we are wearied and exhausted with both these, and both at once.
"Come with Me by yourselves and rest from worldly cares and pleasures." These may be too much for us if indulged in, for they . . .
disturb our peace,
divert our minds from their proper center, and
generate carnality and cold-heartedness in God's cause.
"Come with Me by yourselves and rest in fellowship with me." Oh how necessary is this! Necessary for our strength and courage. Necessary for our perseverance and prosperity. Never, never can the Christian thrive, or be happy, or holy, or useful, without sweet fellowship with Jesus.
"Come with Me by yourselves and rest alone with me." Then we can tell out all that is in our hearts. We can be free, familiar, simple, and feel at home as with a friend and brother. O Jesus, often take me by the hand and lead me aside, that I may be alone with you!
THE LIMIT SET. "Rest a while." Seasons of rest on earth are never long. We are soon disturbed and called away. We are only allowed to rest long enough just to recruit our strength, that we may fall to work again with new vigor. Just long enough to obtain supplies for another stage of our journey. Just long enough to fit us for future labor.
This poor world is not our rest, nor must we expect perfect rest, or rest for any length of time here. If we are allowed to rest today, we must expect to be called out to face the foe, or toil in the vineyard tomorrow. O my soul, never expect much rest on earth! Never look for any long seasons of repose here below. Blessed, blessed be God, there remains a rest for the people of God, and that rest will be glorious!
There is a needs-be for our afflictions. By them, Jesus calls us away from the multitude — calls us to go alone with himself. They flow from his love to us, care of us, and sympathy with us — not from displeasure, or wrath. It was his own beloved disciples that he took apart into the desert place — not the carnal multitude. In the same way, "Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives."
The design of Jesus is to give us rest. He knows our frame. He sympathizes with our weakness. He intends that we should rest. He sees there is no rest for us in . . .
in health — therefore he sends sickness;
in prosperity — therefore he sends adversity;
while surrounded and relatives — and therefore he removes them from us.
O Savior, your design is loving, even when your methods seem severe!
He kindly accompanies as into the desert. The flesh trembles, the spirit quails — but he says, "Fear not, for I am with you. I will hold your right hand." Blessed be God, he will never send me into the desert alone! Let us then seek to enjoy rest in him, and rest with him.
Rest in Jesus by faith, when we rest on his perfect work and precious promises, is sweet. Rest with Jesus is sweet, and hallowed fellowship is sweet also. But what will it be to rest with Jesus in his Father's house, to lie down and enjoy repose on the plains of glory? What, O what will it be, to . . .
be freed from every burden,
be at a distance from every foe, and
to enjoy the smiles and embraces of infinite love forever!
Jesus will soon say, as he points to the dark valley, "Come into a desert place, even death, and rest awhile. Ah, death will introduce our poor wearied, pained, and diseased bodies into the desert place, called the grave, to rest — but only for a while! The buried seed will not die. It will rise again in power and great glory. The soul will rest with Jesus, and then at length the body will come forth from the desert place, and both body and soul will enjoy rest, perfect and perpetual rest forever!
Holy Spirit, grant that whatever afflictions seize us, or losses or bereavements are experienced by us, we may be reminded by you, that it is only Jesus saying unto us, as to his disciples, "Come with Me by yourselves to a desert place and rest a while."
Precious Lord Jesus, ever accompany me whenever I am called to go apart from friends, from your church, and from my daily labor! May I enjoy much of your presence in private, when shut out from the world, and shut in with you, then shall I rejoice to hear you say," Come with Me by yourselves to a desert place and rest a while."