In today’s society, there is a new-found interest and emphasis on “self-care.” Ultimately, this idea of “self-care” promotes what rest looks like. This can range from getting a manicure to saying ‘no’ to particular commitments or deciding to take the day off and treating oneself to a nice meal. These are all good things and can certainly help a person to feel rejuvenated and refreshed. However, it begs the question: What does rest look like and what is the purpose? What does rest look like rooted in Jesus Christ? What kind of rest is the kind that “refreshes my soul”?
In the Gospel today, the first thing the apostles tell Jesus is everything they have done. However, Jesus does not respond by asking what all they have done, but instead invites them to “rest awhile.” As readers, it is tempting to overlook Jesus’ response as banal. However, his response is radical in nature. Most often in conversations with others, when someone tells everything they are doing and have accomplished, we often glorify their busyness and then compare ourselves thinking we aren’t keeping up. But Jesus does not respond that way. Jesus wants them to go off and do nothing. But why does Jesus tell them to go off and rest?
I know how cliché it is to hear that rest is important. I would be a hypocrite to say I’m good at it Even today, I still often find myself feeling guilty or thinking rest is a waste of time. I also admit that rest is also a privilege for most people who don’t have the ability to take time away from work, family, and from life just in general. But Jesus reminds us in this passage that true rest is found in Him. Jesus’s heart yearns for you and me to discover what rest looks like in our lives. And in this rest, we come to know our “shepherd” and that there is “nothing else I shall want” in life.