by: Carole L. Haines
13 Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.14 When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13-14)
His cousin John had just been beheaded. John’s head had been treated as sport to be mocked and displayed in Herod’s palace. Jesus had grown up with this boy. They were both announced by God before their birth, their mother’s went through part of their pregnancy together. They were both prophesied as being special envoys of God to the world. John Himself reveals that He didn’t know Jesus was the Messiah until the day of His baptism.
29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!30 This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’31 I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.33 I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’34 I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34)
All Jesus wanted to do after John’s beheading was have some time alone to grieve him. This beloved, childhood companion was now gone. They had a bond that was close, I believe. But Jesus’ grief got interrupted. The people followed him, seeking healing and wholeness. Jesus was not angry but felt compassion for them and healed them. Then He sought time alone again and sent his disciples ahead of Him in a boat, while He stayed behind.
Jesus is our amazing example of how to respond when life is hard and all we want to do is go off and be alone for a while. He treated the people who needed Him with compassion and love. He did not scold them but received them openly and with healing in His hands. God will provide us with the time we need apart, as we trust Him with the time He has us ministering to others. Being a pretty extreme introvert, I would like to spend most of my time alone, but that is not God’s call for me. He provides what I need without excusing me from His Kingdom Work. He is perfect in His understanding of what we need and is drawing us close to Himself in the quiet times as well as in the busy times.