A Deserted Place

January 17, 2021

Sunday, January 17, 2021

When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities (Matthew 14:13).

Mark 6:32 reads, So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. Luke 9:10 reads, And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. John 6:1 reads, After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.

This is the second recorded seclusion of Jesus from the crowds in the Gospel of Matthew. Again, it was a voluntary leave of absence, not bound by the agenda of the Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, or the public. He was bound by His Father's agenda. He never threw Himself into danger with a ‘devil may care’ attitude. Such would be tempting the Father and His will. It was only fitting that Jesus would protect His life until it was time to die.

Jesus took His disciples in a boat across the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias) to distance them from the crowds. Since they were in Capernaum, they sailed east (ca. 4 miles) across the northern part of the Sea. Bethsaida (a.k.a. Bethsaida-Julias) was home to Peter, Philip, and Andrew. A ‘deserted place’ does not mean a desert, but simply an area of sparse population, little or no cultivation, and used mainly for pasturing animals.

Did Jesus leave Capernaum because He was afraid of being killed as John the Baptizer was? No. John was not afraid of Herod Antipas, or anyone else for that matter. Why would we think Jesus, who was always under the protective care of the Father, would be afraid of Herod or anyone else? Why would He fear the potential of being killed when in less than a year He would willingly walk into Jerusalem and give Himself over to the elders to be crucified?

The purpose for leaving the area was to spend more time alone with the disciples in order to prepare them for what was coming - His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, and for their ministry in His absence.

We have relative freedom here to exercise our faith with minimal opposition. Jesus gives us ‘down time’ not to waste on ourselves, but to be with Him - to be further discipled in the work of His Kingdom. That is precious time, valuable time, necessary time to be with our Lord in preparation for what lies ahead. That time should be occupied with Bible reading, meditation, and prayer. It is a time to recharge spiritual batteries, to renew the mind, to revive the heart and refresh the spirit.

“Lord Jesus, thank You for the times of refreshing. Thank You that You want to spend time with me, preparing me for what is ahead and encouraging me in what I am doing now. Help me make the most of our time together that I may better serve You. To Your honor and glory I ask, Amen.”


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