Jesus’ apostles report to their Lord “all they are doing and teaching.” They are so busy and “so many people are coming and going that they do not even have a chance to eat.” Jesus says to them, ‘Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’
His apostles go away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place, not just to rest but to eat! Jesus tells them they not only need to recuperate; they need to take sustenance. But simultaneously many people see them and run on foot to arrive at that supposedly solitary place ahead of them. Jesus calls His servants to rest and eat with Him; but has so much compassion on the large crowd following them to that solitary place that He asks His servants to put aside their rest and refueling. Jesus delays rest and eating so as to teach the five thousand men with their women and children scattered across the hillsides. Jesus knows the people “are like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mark 6:34)
After teaching, it is “late in the day.” His disciples ask Him to “send the people away.” (Mark 6:35,36) The apostles are tired and hungry. So is Jesus.
And, although He Himself has told the disciples to rest and eat in a quiet place with Him, He nevertheless commands them to “give [the people] something to eat.” (Mark 6:37)
Jesus calls us to a balance. We must make time for those solitary moments of rest and sustenance with Him, but we also must look to the needs of others. Sometimes we will need to forgo the one for the other, but eventually without quiet time with God, we will fail to assist others in any meaningful way.
Jesus tells us figuring out this balance is not easy as many demands are made on our time and resources. Yet, He gives us the answer: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.” (Matthew 6:33) And, He promises: “Ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks; the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)