Have you ever had those moments where you would do anything to get away? Life has hit you hard, and you need a break. You need to stop looking at everyone else and just take a few moments to process, grow, and mourn, whatever the case may be.
Matthew Chapter 14 starts with the story of the death of John the Baptist. The story is hard to read, and we realize the power of sin and guilt. John was jailed initially as a way to be silenced for speaking out against Herod and his wife Herodias' marriage. She was related to him and was his brother's wife first. So John, on more than one occasion, had spoken out against them. It bothered Herod, but it enraged Herodias.
So, in an attempt to settle her down and silence John, Herod had him arrested. But that wasn't sufficient for Herodias, who sent her teenage daughter to Herod's birthday party to dance for Herod and his guests sensually. Herod was so pleased that he offered her anything she wanted and her mother told her precisely what to ask for - John's head on a platter. Herod has an internal struggle knowing that this is not the right decision but is pressured into the action anyways.
It is just like sin, isn't it? It takes you farther than you want and keeps you longer than you ever intended.
Scriptures say in verse 13, "Now when word reaches Jesus about what has happened to John." You can sense the pain that He felt.
"Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard about this, they followed Him on foot from the cities." Matthew 14:13 NASB2020
Let's jump forward to Luke 1, where we read of the foretelling of the births of John and Jesus.
Zachariah and Elizabeth, John's parents, are related to Mary, meaning Jesus and John are relatives. Now you have to remember how close these two are. Also, when Mary gets the news about this supernatural pregnancy, where does she go? Elizabeth and Zachariah's house, so they are close, and we see from the scriptures in Luke 1 that the prophecies show how these two futures are connected. One will be the Messiah, and the other a prophet preparing a way for the Messiah.
We have already read this account in Matthew 3 at Jesus' baptism of the connection and love that these two have for each other.
Now when this news hits Jesus, He immediately moves to get away and find some solitude, which is a common practice of His. We see in Mark 1:35, Mark 6:46, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12, Luke 9:18, Luke 22:41-42, and even in Hebrews 5:7 that Jesus often went out alone to pray.
I'm sure we have all been there. I have been there recently. When you have rough moments you just want to get away from it all. But as we continue through the story, we see those who wanted a touch from Him or to learn from Him discovered where He was going and actually beat Him there on foot. But instead of being frustrated, or asking them to leave, or ignoring them and walking on by, scripture says He had compassion on them and healed their sick.
I find this moment challenging because He is looking for solitude in His dark moments, yet He looks compassionately at the needs around Him.
How often have we come across needs when we don't feel like it, and even justified wanting to be left alone, walk by, or ignore a text because we just don't feel like it?
I see Jesus' love for people come through even in His grieving, a trait we, as Jesus' followers, should have too.
This chapter goes on, and we see Jesus continue to care for people and move with compassion in moments, "he didn't have to" in, for example, the feeding of the 5,000. The disciples all say "Send them away! It's not our job! Don't worry about it!" But Jesus, moved by compassion, again looks outside Himself and His team and says "We can do something about this."
This week let's look for ways to be compassionate even when you don't feel like it or even when you don't have to!
We will save more of the feeding of the 5,000 for later since it is in all 4 of the gospel. See you tomorrow!