by: Clayton King
"After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone." Matthew 14:23
If Jesus really is our Master, Boss, Lord, King, God, and Teacher, then shouldn't we learn everything we possibly can by observing His life? The answer is, of course, yes. But we often stop short in our observation. Or maybe it is the application of what we observe that we struggle with. Here is what I mean.
The verse cited above is clear-cut and simple. It is one of numerous occasions in the gospels where we observe Jesus retreating into solitude. He knew that His flesh was indeed human. That there was only so much He could handle. That fatigue affected even the God-Man. That there was a limit to His accessibility. That if He was going to be effective in His mission to humanity, He needed time alone with His Heavenly Father to pray, refresh, and recharge. He anticipated the challenges He would face and took steps to prepare for them BEFORE He faced them.
Jesus did 3 simple things:
1. He dismissed the crowds.
Easier said than done, isn't it? Every leader dreams of drawing a crowd.
Most leaders feel a sense of validation and importance when the numbers swell to hear what we have to say. The last thing we want to do when a group has assembled to get a fresh word or a clear vision from God, through us, is to send them home. Your church probably wouldn't grow using this method, at least in your estimation. Yet Christ had the foresight to send them away. Either they had HEARD enough or Jesus had HAD enough. Either way, the Lord had reached His limit. Do you ever reach yours? When you do, are you too arrogant or proud to get away from the masses, or do you enjoy having all eyes on you, everyone needing you, and the feeling of security you get when you are needed?
2. He disappeared to pray.
It wasn't just a break from the pressure of teaching and leading that Jesus needed. It was intimacy with His Father that would inspire and energize Him for the next assignment. So He journeyed to a remote place, disappearing as it were, so that He could have unhurried, uncluttered time with His Father in prayer. Time off is NEVER enough for us. Little breaks have their benefits, but it is this "private-prayer-solitude" where the Holy Spirit ministers to us, broods over us, binds up our wounds, restores our sanity, reminds us of His sovereignty, and refreshes our calling. Jesus didn't just go up to a mountain and hang out. He prayed. If the God-Man needed to pray, how much more do we need to pray?
3. He remained alone.
Even as darkness settled in and the sun set, Jesus remained where He was. Alone on a mountain. The solitude of that lonely place afforded him the space and perspective to actually rest, think, and commune with His Father. Our tendency is to withdraw from the noise and busyness for a short while, and then right as we are unwinding or relaxing or resting or unplugging, allow ourselves to be pulled back in; by a ringing phone, a buzzing text message, or a ding that tells us we just got an email or someone just commented on or blog. We stop short of really experiencing "alone-fellowship" with God because we sense that we may be missed or needed back at work/the church/the office/at home.
Simply put, Jesus knew He would face the multitudes. And He knew He needed solitude to succeed. Failure was not an option for His mission. He knew when to get away from the work at hand and when to dismiss the ever-growing throngs of fans. He knew where His strength came from.
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