He just yearned for a brief respite, a tiny quiet space in which to grieve.
Jesus was supposed to be boarding a boat to go somewhere private where he could mourn the death of his cousin, John the Baptist.
“Cousins” was their relationship in the physical universe. But their relationship in the kingdom was even closer. John the Baptist had been the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah. He was the “one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him'” (Matthew 3:3, NIV).
Now John was dead–violently executed by the despot Herod. And Jesus just wanted to be alone for a little while with his thoughts (and with his Father).
But that was not to be. The Bible tells us that Jesus got into a boat to sail across the Sea of Galilee to a solitary place. Suffice it to say, the crowds did not have Jesus’ needs in mind.
And since they couldn’t all fit into a boat, they followed Jesus around the very large lake on foot, until they found him. In fact, it seems they beat Jesus to the punch, somehow knowing where he planned to drop anchor.
What was Jesus’ response to these people refusing to leave him alone? Did he get frustrated? Angry? Upset that they weren’t respecting his boundaries? Was he incensed by the reality that they seemed to always put their own needs ahead of his?
None of those. His response, surprising for anyone but Jesus, was love. But then, there’s a reason why it wasn’t shocking that Jesus responded this way. After all, as the apostle John writes later in his first epistle, “God is love.”
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14, NIV).
Lord Jesus, thank you for being so compassionate toward me. You do this all the time. And not because I’ve done anything to earn or deserve your love. You love me simply because you are love. How awesome to have your steadfast love to rely on every day.
Our Bible reading for Tuesday, January 20, is Genesis 40:1 – 41:40, Matthew 14:1-21, and Proverbs 2:12-22.
Header image based on "Galilee Shore" by Emery, CC by 2.0