Matthew 14:13 - 16:28
Can I just pause for a moment on this simple, very profound example of Christ? 'Cuz I need to hear it.
Leading up to today's passages, in Matthew 14:1-12, the story talks about the be-heading of John the Baptist. John and Jesus Christ were cousins.
Heading over to Luke 1:41, Luke records that "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit."(Mary was the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist)
John recognized Jesus in utero and was filled with joy.
In Matthew 3:13-17, John finally baptized Jesus after acknowledging Christ's authority and purpose on Earth. Then, in Matthew 11:11, Jesus recognized the great old-covenant power of John's commission. (He also recognized the new, more powerful authority in the new-covenant).
I say all of that to say that John and Jesus were not only cousins, they were friends, and they respected one another greatly. So, when Jesus got news that John had been executed, he was deeply grieved.
This is the great example I mentioned:
Matthew 14:13 "When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick."
1. He got alone. He let himself feel. He took some time out. He grieved. He probably prayed, and cried, asked tough questions, and questioned himself. Why didn't God tell Him to go get John out of jail? Whey didn't God continue to intervene in Harod's attitude? Were more people going to die because of Him? How many? He was a person, just like me. Same emotions, same vulnerabilities, same enemy.
2. The crowds had zero regard for His loss. When catastrophe strikes, I think what hurts the most is that the world continues to spin as if everything is OK. When I lost my dad, had a miscarriage, and any other number of life-shaking events, I wanted time to stop so that I could gather myself. But the world kept going. The calendar kept changing dates. Jobs still needed to be done, kids still needed to be cared for, groceries bought... And yes, people definitely stepped in and helped out! But sometimes, people are ready to stop helping long before my heart stops hurting.
3. (And this is what I need constant grace for) When He saw the crowds, even though they were stalking him to get, get, get from him... He had compassion for them (all 5000) and healed their sick. He grieved, prayed, and gave himself away some more. Probably no less in pain, but regardless, reached out, got beyond himself, and served.
That, for me, is what separates those who will be used by God, and those who have some more growing up to do. And I am absolutely speaking to myself. When I get overwhelmed... even in little things, like TODAY. And the kids are all stuck indoors at my house for almost a solid 3 weeks now, and we're all ready to kill each other, and the food I bought isn't lasting as long, and I'm hormonal, and I don't have time to read the Word or talk to my friends because every time I get 5 minutes, there's another explosion somewhere.... All I want to do is retreat into my room, pull the covers over my head and quit. Sleep. Revert.
But the example that Christ sets is, I need to go to my room, pray, cry, get settled with God, and get up, don't harden my heart, but have compassion. Serve my family. Get out of myself. And in that obedience there is blessing. Hopefully, the choice to move past pain will become easier the more I practice. :)