December 19, 2020
On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea (Matthew 13:1).
Matthew doesn’t usually give us such cameos of Jesus. We would expect a statement as this to be found in Luke who, as a physician, revealed the more personal and human side of our Lord.
The day had been a difficult one for Jesus. He had been accused by the Pharisees of violating the 4th Commandment by harvesting and threshing grain on the Sabbath, healing a man with a withered hand, and healing a multitude of sick people. He had cast the devil out of a blind and mute man and was criticized by the Scribes and Pharisees who had blasphemously accused Him of being a servant of Satan. He had harshly denounced these elders of Israel, pronouncing God’s judgment upon them for their spiritual hypocrisy, adultery, and idolatry. Then His mother and brothers came to take Him home to Nazareth because they thought Him mad.
I can well imagine that after such a series of physical and spiritual activity (spiritual warfare?) Jesus was emotionally weary, maybe even discouraged, and wanted to be left alone for a while - to get away from the problems of people, and to go to a quiet place where the waves of the Sea gently washed up on the shore, calming His spirit and giving Him a natural sanctuary in which He could lift up His soul to God.
We all need such times and places in our own lives. Serving the Lord is exciting, rewarding, and brings joy to the spirit. But spiritual warfare such as Jesus faced that day can drain the spirit, leaving a person spiritually weary, even empty. We need times of refreshing; to go to places where we cannot be accessed by others so that we may spend time alone with God.
How long was Jesus alone? We might assume by v. 2 that His time along the shore was very brief, but I don’t think so. I believe He was unobserved for some time. He was fully human, and His heart must have been heavy as He thought on the painful encounters He had just experienced and those which lay in the days ahead. How burdened in spirit He must have been with the prospects of His future work of spiritual warfare that would ultimately lead to Him being rejected by the very people He came to save. What strength of faith He needed for the work that lay ahead of Him. We well would have fallen into despair. But He did not despair. In such times of solitude with God, the spirit is renewed and ministry is enjoined.
“Thank You, Father, that Your Word reveals so much about Jesus that I can relate to. It is comforting to know He suffered times of physical and spiritual exhaustion and needed to get away for a while. Thank You for times of refreshing. Thank You for being my refuge and strength in times of spiritual and physical weariness. To Your honor and glory I pray, Amen.”