The day Jesus really needed some time for himself …

When Jesus heard the horrible news that his cousin, John, had been murdered to satisfy King Herod’s sister-in-law, who knew no other way to shut up John’s voice in her conscience …

He needed some time to himself.

So he took a boat and rowed off to a place where he thought he wouldn’t be bothered.

But the news about the death of Jesus’ cousin, who was a prophet, spread fast. And everyone wanted time with Jesus because now he was the only one. So people from all the towns in the area were watching his boat on the water to see where he was likely to land. And by the time the bottom of his boat scraped the lake shore, a huge crowd of people were waiting for him … people who had bushwhacked their way around the lake … who had called out to each other, “This way! I see him heading toward the inlet over there!” and “I’ve lost him. Do you have a visual?”

And as much as Jesus wanted his time alone, he knew the fears and desires that had drawn so many people to this isolated place. His heart felt their longing to be in the presence of God’s prophet as fully as it felt the power of his own loss. And so he healed the sick who were there.

Jesus’ friends had only just buried John. They might have heard from some of King Herod’s staff what King Herod thought about Jesus – that he was his own cousin, raised from the dead, doing miracles by John’s power. They certainly had seen Jesus do miracles – in fact, they were watching him do healing miracles now.

But seeing one kind of miracle happen doesn’t always create confidence in the miracle worker himself. And maybe that’s a good thing. Because if we had endless confidence in Jesus as a worker of miracles, then we’d be asking endlessly for miracles. And while God’s love is a miracle, it’s not the kind we usually ask for. We ask for food, shelter, clothing, a parking spot, the kind of car that will give us higher status. We don’t very often say: God, I need a miracle today. I need to know your love. I need it in such abundance that I can care for others, even though I’m suffering.

Jesus’ friends didn’t even think to ask for a miracle that would provide food. But Jesus did one. He took a couple handsful of bread and fish, fed something like 20,000 people, and there was enough left over for his friends to pick up entire baskets of wasted food.

Not just a miraculous feeding.

An extravagant meal.

Not just enough, like the manna each day in the wilderness, but more than these emotionally and spiritually hungry people could possibly swallow.

Jesus satisfied their needs in abundance before he finally took the time to himself he had sought.

Whose needs could I put first today?

(From Matthew 14)

About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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