Text: Matthew 14
Memorize: “Now when Jesus heard this he went away from there privately in a boat to an isolated place. But when the crowd heard about it, they followed him on foot from the towns.” Matthew 14:13 NET
With the sad news of John the Immersor’s death at King Herod’s hands, Jesus seeks to get away to an isolated place. The text doesn’t explain the motive behind his action. Mark and Luke connect it with the Twelve’s return from the limited commission. Some see him removing himself from any possible confrontation with or provocation of Herod. Without taking away from the merits of those explanations, it may also be that Jesus seeks time away to be strengthened in company with the Father.
He certainly doesn’t retreat in order to pout or give in to self-pity. When the crowds follow him, he feels compassion for the multitude and feeds them miraculously. No one wrapped up in himself would be capable of such giving.
No doubt he was deeply moved by the death of one whom he called the greatest among men. He pauses in this delicate moment, and then he is up and serving again.
Word Cue: Isolated (Gr., eremos). Often translated as wilderness or desert, the term indicates an uninhabited place, hence, the NET translation as “isolated.” “The New Testament usually refers to the desert as a solitary place. Jesus repeatedly withdrew from the large crowds (Luke 4:42; 9:10-12) to these places for privacy and a time of prayer with His Father” (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary 1995: 349).
Prayer: Lord who is in every place, how we miss you in the crowd, only to find you where people are not. Let us seek you alone so that we can hear you when other voices are silent. Amen.
Action Question: Where are some isolated places where I can seek the Lord?