2022-8-28 “Fundamentally Sound: Silence and Solitude”

Cornerstone EPC                                                                                  Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                               August 28, 2022

“Fundamentally Sound: Silence and Solitude”
Mark 6:30-33

Is there anyone else out there too busy, or nearly so? It’s not too hard to be too busy in our time. There seems to be too much to do. We have to do our day’s work (whether in the paid employ or not), we must maintain our real and personal properties, and we must relate well to our families and friends, among other activities that fill our days. Not only must we do these many things, but its that excessive hassle—such as distance and time, traffic, supply line issues, etc.—attaches itself to our attempts to do these many things. We may think—or, at least, we may be tempted to think—that busyness is the exclusive purview of large cities and their suburbs, but busyness afflicts even those in small towns and the open country, as we well know.

If we are to be fundamentally sound in Christ in these hectic times, then we need to practice the spiritual discipline of silence and solitude. Such is good for our souls, and such Jesus, the great Lover of our souls, orders for our good. Let us hear His words, as recorded by Mark under the Holy Spirit’s leading, once again read and proclaimed in this place.


Earlier (cf. 7-29) Jesus sent out the Twelve, two by two (7-13). The Lord relates their duties more fully through Matthew’s account (Matthew 10:7-8) than there. The Twelve go forth to proclaim, “The Kingdom of God is near,” with a view to the Holy Spirit eliciting repentance and saving faith in the hearers. To this end, Jesus, God incarnate, gives the disciples power and authority to perform miracles—and those to a purpose, namely, to confirm the proclamation of the Gospel by healing, resurrection, cleansing, and exorcism. The disciples, thus armed, enter into their ministries.

Mark, led by the Spirit, inserts, between the disciples’ departure and their return, the narrative of John the Baptist’s execution (14-29). John was Jesus’ kinsman and His forerunner—the Elijah who was to come (Malachi iv.5, Matthew xi.14)—and his death doubtless grieved Jesus, and the disciples both of John and of Jesus, among others. The manner of John’s death only added to their grief—execution by beheading, and that only to gratify King Herod’s (likely) drunken oath, his bloodthirsty wife and her unwise, easily-led daughter.

Hence, in the midst of a busy ministry season, upon the heels of the news of John the Baptist’s death, the apostles return and report their doing and their teaching (30). Then Jesus, in view of much people, ministry, and grief, bids them to come away by themselves (I think with Him) to a desolate place. We learn from Luke’s Spirit-led account that this desolate place lay outside Bethsaida (Luke 9:10), on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee: a place away from people, noise, and distraction where Jesus’ disciples may be with Him and may learn from Him. Not only would the Twelve be with Jesus and learn of Him, but also they would rest a while—both physically and spiritually, for both their bodies and their souls needed rest.

Jesus and the Twelve then remove toward this retreat, on a boat, but people from the shore recognized them. These people, who later would coalesce into a great crowd, hungered for Jesus’ miracles and teaching, as evidenced that by foot outran the boat (how undignified in that day for men of standing to run, cf. the father of the runaway younger son, Luke 15:20) and beat Jesus and the disciples to the spot. Hence, the retreat appears to be limited to the boat ride—but some silence and solitude beats none.

This brief retreat, between busy ministerial seasons, as the rest of Luke 6 narrates, doubtless benefited the disciples. Let’s see what happened after this retreat. Jesus sees the great crowd, feels compassion for them, and teaches them many things. At the end of the day, He feeds them—five thousand men, plus women and children (Matthew 14:21)—miraculously from five loaves and two fishes. Then the disciples start back across the sea, while Jesus departs into a remote place to pray. The disciples struggle against a contrary wind until or after 3:00 A. M., when Jesus comes to them walking on the water (45-52). He calms their fears—and the wind—and gets them to their desired haven, and just in time, apparently, for more ministry at Genessaret (53-56).

Silence and solitude have important places in the life of the healthy, growing Christ. This practice, like many of the other practices we’ve noted this summer, is easier for some than for others. Introverts, for one example, have the advantage over extroverts, and contemplative people, for another, have the advantage over activist people. Yet all of us who are in Christ are called to occasional silence before Him and solitude with Him—as today’s text, among others, proves. How do we do this, or how do we do it better? Let’s take some practical steps toward this.

First, carve out time on your Day-Timer, or whatever else you use to plan your days, weeks, and months. Even if you plan only a brief time of silence and solitude (and I recommend this at first, perhaps not more than fifteen minutes), put that time into your appointment book as you would any other appointment. Then keep it. Second, remove yourself from people, noise, and other distractions. In some situations, this is all too easy (but maybe not especially welcome, if you be sufficiently lonely or grieving), but it may seem all but impossible in others (such as a mother of young children). To the one struggling for opportunity, take your solitude in brief snippets more frequently—and enlist help when you can. Third, take your Bible and your notebook to this place. Your Bible, as quickened by the Holy Spirit, is how God speaks to you, and you will wish to capture for future reference what He impresses upon your spirit in your time with Him. Therefore, take Bible and notebook to the remote place. Fourth, communicate only with the Lord during this time—and do your best to suspend all other communication for a season. It also may be well to limit your petitions to God just for this time—in order that you may be still before Him, that you may listen for Him, and that, by His grace and for His glory, you may hear Him.

May the Lord make us fundamentally sound in Him by, among other practices, the practice of silence and solitude.