And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.
Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
I live in a culture where comfort is king. Last year, while shopping for furniture for our family room, I was amazed at the wide variety of easy chairs that are available. It isn’t about a simple recliner any more. Now you can purchase them large enough to sleep in. No joke. And you can get a matched set built together as a sofa or loveseat. And in the ultimate coach potato experience, there are electric recliners (you push a button to recline or sit up, even raise yourself out of the chair) that are equipped with drink holders AND a mini-fridge. We Americans like to take our ease.
Now there is nothing wrong with taking a break. Jesus models that for us in this passage where He encourages His disciples to come with him on a boat to get away from the press of ministry. But the idea did not last. As soon as they got in the boat, the crowds figured out the plan and ran around the lake to greet them at their destination. They wanted a short vacation. They got a boat ride. This seemed unfair, like booking a Caribbean cruise and only getting to the airport.
I find Jesus’ response to this situation interesting. I know if someone had blown my vacation plans, I’d be upset. I’d be tempted to unload on them like a celebrity at a papparazzi photographer! But Jesus responded with compassion. He saw their spiritual need and immediately responded to it. Comfort was a secondary concern, and somehow, just getting the boat ride was going to be enough.
I find this instructive. I had a busy week last week between pastoral ministry and teaching at Calvary Seminary. And this coming week has a full ministry slate as well. For a two week period I will be working on my days off. And by the time the calendar shows me a break it will be three weeks until one full day off arrives. I will need a few boat rides with Jesus to get me through! And I know He will provide them.