All of us—perpetrators or survivors of crimes, sharers or eaters of bread and fish—all of us need time away.
There are many bits of scripture like this one, where Jesus withdraws to be by himself. In two lines here, half a sentence there, scripture shows us that Jesus needs time alone. His work requires deep compassion—caring for individuals and crowds, teaching and preaching, and arguing with religious leaders, with the disciples, with large expanses of people. In between those encounters, Jesus pulls away.
These are Jesus’ sabbath moments. Time away allows space to connect to God and to remember the purpose of the work he is doing. God wants Jesus to be who he is called to be—and that is hard! So Jesus takes space to be with God just as he is.
God calls us to ministry as well, ministry to the world we live in. As the world storms around us, we must take some time away. Think of it as shelter from the waves that threaten to overwhelm us. This break from the work enables us to avoid the trap of being blown every which way by the crowd; it helps us to see through the fog, to find the direction God is sending us.
Time apart cuts down on thinking we are in charge, making the ministry about us instead of about Jesus. The crowd in this story wanted to make Jesus king. Pulling away returns him to God’s image of kingdom instead of the earthly view of a king.
God loves us just the way we are. To be fed by that love we need time with God, alone—in the mountains, in the wilderness, by the sea, wherever we are able to get away and spend time with our Creator. This time allows us to feel God’s affirmation, redirection, encouragement, and peace.
Holy God, push me into a silent, private space so that I may hear what you are sharing with me. Amen.
The Bible is filled with the stories of imperfect people. David is a classic case. In Second Samuel he uses his power to have sex with another man's wife, tries to cover it up, and then plots the murder of her husband. How can this be the same man who penned this week’s psalm, which decries the foolishness of people who act in a godless way? Like us, David was a fallen person who needed God’s extravagant mercy. In Ephesians we read of this same extravagance given through Christ, whose power can do what we cannot—namely redeem all of us who are also foolish and fallen. The Gospel author demonstrates the power of Jesus through what he describes as “signs,” which Jesus performed not primarily to amaze the onlookers but rather to point them to his identity as the Son of God.
Read 2 Samuel 11:1-15. Where in today’s world do you see the selfishness of powerful people bringing tragedy for people with less power?
Read Psalm 14. Do you number yourself among the wise who “seek after God”? Why or why not?
Read Ephesians 3:14-21. How does “being rooted and grounded in love” manifest itself in your life?
Read John 6:1-21. Where do you see yourself in this story?
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