Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve– designating them apostles–that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Jesus couldn’t get away. He pulled back, they advanced. He had something they needed and would do almost anything to get: power to heal, to change, to restore. And yet they didn’t know who He was. Didn’t see He was a sacrificial Messiah. The dying Lamb.
If you’ve ever wanted to get away from the action, you’re not alone, and you shouldn’t feel guilty. You need rest. You need privacy. You need companionship. Away from ministry does not always mean away from your friends. Nor does it necessarily mean away from action.
However, we don’t always get what we seek. So although rest is necessary, it doesn’t come on our terms. We have crowds that follow, people who need us, and when we can’t back off, we must turn around and engage.
Jesus sought rest, and sometimes that meant He wanted to be alone, but other times it meant He wanted time with his team. Reading the Gospels reveals a pattern: Jesus comes and goes. He moves around. He actively engages in teaching, healing, casting our demons, and then he withdraws and prays. He walks along the road with just his team. He rides in a boat with his team. And then He’s back in the crowd.
What about you?
1. Do you hide in the business of life to avoid the work of withdrawing? Because it can be a discipline, especially for an extrovert. Being alone or with close friends requires you to be honest and prayerful, to face what’s in your heart, to face Him who sees your heart.
2. On the flip side, are you constantly withdrawing? Running from the crowd that’s following you? Maybe you need to turn around and engage, face the disease and demons of others.
3. Who’s with you? Jesus “called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.” Though he withdrew, he called. When you call someone to come alongside you in ministry or friendship, choose carefully. Choose prayerfully. We do not choose who is in the Body of Christ with us. We do choose who we let close to us, who we trust. As Christians we sometimes think we must be close to everyone in the body. This is not realistic, nor wise. You can’t be everyone’s best friend, and let us not deceive ourselves with the prideful thought that we would be a good best friend for everyone. We are called to love and serve others, regardless. But taking someone into your inner circle, that’s not a calling to dish out lightly. Jesus took it seriously, and we should too.