Matthew 14:13—When Jesus heard about it, He withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. When the crowds heard this, they followed Him on foot from the towns.
John the Baptist was beheaded and his disciples after recovering his body for burial came and reported his death to Jesus. Matthew’s gospel gives us some insight into the fact that this news weighed heavily on Jesus and He felt the immediate need to get away. Imagine how He must have felt when the boat comes to shore and there is a crowd waiting for Him! Have you ever had the flu and had unexpected company arrive the same day? Have you ever lost your job only to receive a call from your children that you are needed to chaperone a party that night for a hundred kids?
Because Jesus was wholeheartedly committed to reaching people, when He saw the huge crowd He felt compassion for them. Instead of feeling sorry for His own inability to be left alone to grieve, He healed their sick and in one of His most famous miracles, fed over 5000 people food from five loaves of bread and two fish. This is where most preachers end the story—they laud Jesus for His incredible love for people at a time when He was emotionally fatigued.
But the story is not over. After dismissing the crowds, Jesus did not jump in the boat with His disciples and return with them home. Instead of giving up on personal time He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray (14:23). He spent hours with His Father decompressing, perhaps unburdening His heart or shedding tears for John. The perfect Minister needed a break and took it.
Beware of making ministry more important than spending time alone with God. There will never be a shortage of sick or hungry people. When the Holy Spirit leads you, help them; just remember that dismissal is also a part of ministry. All of us need time to get away to be alone with God. Refreshment, strengthening, wisdom and peace come from His presence. Don’t be afraid to climb the mountain to meet with God and miss the boat.
©2012 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)