He was an itinerant preacher.
And he was having a really hard day.
A dear friend, a partner in ministry, had been in prison for a while.
He had done nothing wrong – other than speaking an unpopular truth.
But the preacher had just received word that his imprisoned friend had been killed.
A political prisoner, killed because the regime didn’t want to lose face in front of the constituents.
Receiving the news, all he sought was some time alone.
Time to grieve.
Time to pray.
He tried to get away.
But he couldn’t.
The needs were just too great.
Too many people, too much ministry.
And so he stayed put.
Ministering to thousands of people.
Putting their needs ahead of his own.
Living out these verses from Philippians 2: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
The preacher was Jesus.
The political prisoner was John the Baptist.
And here is what that particular 36 hours looked like for Jesus:
– He received word that John had been beheaded by King Herod.
– He tried to slip away to a secluded place, to spend time with His Father.
– Instead, He was followed out into the wilderness by 5000 men plus women and children.
– He then spent that entire day healing the masses.
– That evening, the disciples tried to send the thousands on their way home. But Jesus knew they had traveled far from the cities on foot and instead asked the disciples to feed them.
– Which led to what’s known as “The Feeding of the 5,000” from a little boy’s lunch.
– After the crowds had been fed and the leftovers gathered, Jesus sent the disciples to the boat with instructions to cross the Sea of Galilee.
– He FINALLY got time that night with His Father.
– And when He rejoined the disciples, it was in the middle of the Sea. Between 3 AM and 6 AM. In the middle of whipping winds and crashing waves. Walking on the water to meet them. And then dealing with Peter’s pendulum swings between belief and disbelief.
– As soon as Jesus and Peter got in the boat, the storm ceased – and they continued on to the other shore.
– And there they met another crowd. And Jesus healed even more people.
(Read it all for yourself in Matthew 14, Mark 6 and Luke 9)
Whew! I love that that is all one story. We often tell it as several different ones. But really, it is a day in the life of Jesus.
Here are my personal take-aways from what happened that day:
– Jesus turned to His Father in his grief. Not outward to his disciples. Not inward to his own thoughts. But upward to His Father.
– Jesus balanced two immense needs – the need to be alone with His Father and the needs of the thousands who followed Him as He tried to get away. I am afraid, if it had been me, I would have said, “Hey, guys, not now. I’m dealing with some pretty heavy grief at the moment. Give me some time” – and felt justified in doing it. But Jesus laid aside his own interests, his personal agenda, and ministered. However, he then made the time to be with His Father. Both needs were met – and God the Father was honored in both. May I live that balance!
– Jesus, completely God but also completely human, needed time alone with His Father. If He needed it, I most certainly do, too! And this isn’t the only recorded instance of Him slipping away to have time with God. It was a pattern – and one I need to emulate.
– And then there is Peter… After seeing thousands fed, after hanging out with Jesus, he had enough faith to say, “Jesus, if that is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” He had enough faith to get out of the careening boat and onto the whipping waves. But then, the Bible says, “He saw the wind”. His eyes of faith got blinded by the facts – the data coming into his brain that said, “This is not possible” – and he went under. How often do I do that! I have a historical record with God, too. I have testimony after testimony in my own life of how He has come through, of things He has accomplished, of ways He has blessed. But I often allow the “facts” of some new situation – the empirical data surrounding it – to cloud my spiritual vision – and down I go, into a sea of unbelief. But, Jesus reaches out a hand to me, just like He did to Peter, never once allowing me to drown. How I need to remember that!
One final thought…one of the favorite lies of the enemy goes like this: “Well, great. That’s fabulous that Jesus did all that. But you’re not Jesus. Shoot – you’re not even Peter! So good luck with all that…” Here’s the Truth – I am not Jesus. But, according to Scripture (which is the only way to battle such lies):
– The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in me. (Ephesians 1)
– I have been given everything I need for life and godliness. I love how the Amplified Bible puts it in 2 Peter 1:3: “For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
– I am in Christ and Christ is in me. (Colossians 1:27)
– God will complete the good work He began in me. (Philippians 1:6)
– And anything that God is calling me to do, I can do. Not because I am all that. But because I can do all things through Christ. Philippians 4:13 in the Amplified: “I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]”
A day in my life won’t be filled with thousands being fed directly from my hand or me miraculously stopping storms.
But it can be filled with time with my Father.
Ministering to the hungry and hurting.
Laying aside myself, laying down my life, in order to serve.
Trusting God in the storms.
Being available for wherever He leads and whatever He asks me to do.
And then watching Him do amazing things!
Imagine if every Christ-follower had days like that…