Now here’s an interesting scene. Jesus’ cousin, herald, and probably one of his closest friends to date, John the Baptist, has just summarily ended his sojourn in Herod’s jail by being beheaded. Jesus, by contrast, was at the height of His popularity with the people and had crowds clamoring to get whatever they could by being around Him. But after such a personal tragedy and emotional loss as this, even Jesus needed a time-out.
“As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone….”
Can you even blame the guy? All that deity bottled up in all that humanness, and I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like. The rest of the story is also telling—
“But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
That evening the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.’
But Jesus said, ‘That isn’t necessary— you feed them.’
‘But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!’ they answered.
‘Bring them here,” he said.”
Now, even those with a cursory knowledge of the Bible know the rest of the story, and many analogous sermons have assuredly been preached on how the paltry offering was turned into the miraculous feeding of the masses. Yet, here was something I missed…until now:
One of Jesus’ most acclaimed miracles took place right after one of His deepest personal losses.
Grieving is an important part of our humanness, and is meant to be a healthy part. Sometimes, however, we allow our grief to turn into morbid selfishness. If I understand this account correctly:
- God will provide the appropriate time to grieve, and we must take it as Jesus Himself did.
“After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.”
- I suspect that the forte Jesus had to show this compassion to the crowd in the midst of His own loss was the “joy of the Lord is my strength” variety, knowing in a most confident way that He would see John again, and for all eternity. Truly, this is an important part of the “joy of the Lord” that will strengthen us for the next task at hand.
- If I allow my grief to trump my compassion, I may miss a huge miracle that God wants to do through me for
Most certainly He understands my confusion and pain and exhaustion in the heart of my personal grief, and I must understand—and embrace—His complete and utter sufficiency to do His will within that experience.
He stills asks only for my paltry loaves and fishes to do just that.
Matthew 14: 13 – 23 Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt Book 2) (Kindle Locations 2848-2853). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.