By: Lindsey Whitmore
Sometimes when life throws us hard blows, we want to have a moment to ourselves to regroup. When times arise where we feel unsteady or overwhelmed, there can come a sense of needing to retreat. It is in these moments I pray we can remember Jesus’ example. While in the midst of trials and circumstances, His Father’s mission was still before Him. Therefore, it must remain before us as well.
I was taken back afresh while reading again through Matthew 14:13-21, when Jesus feeds the 5000. I was struck not just by the miraculousness of the provision or the opportunity for His disciples and others to see His divinity, but by what had happened just before this compassionate act. John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, His friend, His preparer, the one said to be more faithful than all that lived before him, just died an unjust and violent death. Matthew 14:13 (NLT) tells us, “As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone.”
Jesus wanted to take a moment. He wanted to pray, possibly cry out or regroup, by Himself.
The passage goes on to say, “But the crowds...followed...Jesus saw the huge crowd...and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” This image stung. I thought back on times when I had just received terrible news and realized that while I processed inward, there was an outward Kingdom I was still part of that needed my attention as well.
We are not our own, and Jesus constantly reminds us of this through His attitudes and actions in these very moments of weariness on the journey. Jesus, like us, wanted, but His Father’s wants came first.
“Don’t you know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit? The Spirit is in you, and you have received the Spirit from God. You do not belong to yourselves.”
1 Corinthians 6:19 NIRV
We must remember that in those moments of weariness, shock, pain, fill in your blank, Jesus did not pull His attitude and energy to serve from His human self, but from Who He is as God. We should not think we can just push through our circumstances, muscle through our trials, or simply suck it up. Otherwise our heart’s response will be less than selfless, less than surrendered of self-strength, and any compassion or serving offered will be tainted by desire for self-glory.
“Jesus has always been as God is. But He did not hold to His rights as God. He put aside everything that belonged to Him and made Himself the same as a servant who is owned by someone. He became human by being born as a man. After He became a man, He gave up His important place and obeyed by dying on a cross.”
Philippians 2:6-8 NLV
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Colossians 3:17 NIV
Something else that spoke to me more clearly in this passage was in Jesus' interaction with His disciples. In Matthew 14:18-21, we read that Jesus took the loaves and, after giving thanks, broke them and then gave them to His disciples to distribute to the people so that all could eat. There were a couple points I journaled here:
God is our source of power and perseverance.
God gave us Jesus who, like the bread, was broken in order to distribute His mercy, compassion, and grace on all of His creation.
Jesus then gave us the command to ‘go’ and continue this work, feeding others who are hungry the bread of life, Himself.
God gives us all we need to accomplish this, regardless of circumstances or stage of life. Jesus' mission never changed. Jesus' example to us is to never waiver in the missions He sends us on, even when we have moments in our limited fleshly minds where we feel we deserve or seem to require it. His mission in us and through us can never waiver.
"Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."
2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT