Spoken; the Rhythm of Life (Studies in Six Psalms)
After the Pharisees conspire with the Herodians to kill Jesus, He has a decision to make. Will He force them to act immediately, with the risk of short-circuiting His ministry? Or will He leave the scene, not just to bide His time, but to prepare for a major move that will bring His ministry of servanthood to full maturity? An uncanny sense of the rhythm of life and a full commitment to the will of God leads Him to leave the scene.
The rhythm of life. Jesus knows the value of a rhythm of life that balances work and rest, worship and play. Without this rhythm, He will either burn out early or accomplish very little. His withdrawal to the sea is not cowardice, it is a credit to His intuitive sense that the time has come for rest and play.
Work is an activity of high intensity and high production. But as God set the example, even creative work must be balanced by a period of “rest,” when physical energies are restored in order to work again. Worship and play, then, must be added to the work/rest cycle in order to fulfill the finer hungers of persons who are created in the image of God. Unlike work and rest, worship and play are not means to an end. A person does not worship or play with productivity in mind. Value is contained in the experience itself. Thus, worship and play serve as the balance wheel for work and rest in the rhythm of life. Worship regains our spiritual perspective and play restores our creative energies.
Modern society has upset the rhythm of life. Work has been devalued and play has been invaded by the purpose of work. With so much leisure and so many options, play has been subjected to a time-clock schedule with its demand for successful production. In many instances, worship has been eliminated from the rhythm of life and rest has become a dreaded experience on a “crash pad.” The result is that work is a necessary evil, play is work, worship is idolatry, and rest is a short course in death.
Jesus withdraws to the sea with His disciples in order to regain His balance in the rhythm of life. During His ministry in Galilee, the rhythm has been reduced to constant work with little rest, and even less opportunity for worship and play. In fact, when He goes to the synagogues for worship, He meets either human need that requires work or spiritual hardness that requires contest. Worship and work may have become so intermingled that Jesus senses the potential loss of the effective edge in His work and the fine-tuning of His communion with God. In modern terms, He might have been on the borderline of “executive burn-out.” He needs the seaside.
David L. McKenna and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Mark, vol. 25, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1982), 72–74.