October 18, 2022
So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone. (John 6:15)
When you gaze on Christ (and you must), you observe a life of perfect serenity. We look at Him as He was on earth and see a man that was never in a hurry but always on time. His withdrawing was an essential part of His balanced life.
John records that Jesus “withdrew again,” indicating that this departure from the crowd was not an aberration but a habit. A man who is frantically and persistently present often has nothing to give. Jesus’ seclusion gave a pace and balance to His life that led to its perfection and a profound model for us. Why did He withdraw, and why should we?
AVOIDING THE CROWD’S FALSE DESIRES
The world is insatiably drawn to celebrities. It’s an industry among us. People are always looking for the next star to worship or crucify. It is the God-given need for worship that fuels this desire. But also the selfish hope that the next leader will give us what we want.
This Hebrew crowd of John 6 wanted to “take Him by force and make Him king.” They were tired of Roman domination and relentlessly searching for someone to deliver them and make their lives easier. Jesus, with His miraculous works, seemed to be One who could make that happen. Their desires, of course, were not for His glory but for their own selfish comfort.
Christ’s head was never turned by such foolishness. He knew His place and His work. His union with the Father was so secure that He did not need man’s applause. He did not seek titles, for the Father had already crowned Him as His “beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” He withdrew to prevent further humanistic agendas. To quiet the crowd. Their desire to exalt Him prematurely was a temptation that needed to be avoided, and the best way to silence the crowd’s voices and any temptation to Him was to flee.
Most men would have quickly succumbed to this noise and gone with the flow of human worship. They would have reasoned that this desire to make them king was good and that their plan and direction were working to provide good outcomes for the people.
But not Jesus. He withdrew, knowing that a cross and resurrection were His true calling. Only as He followed His Father would the Kingdom come, and God’s will be done on earth as it was being done in heaven.
SEEKING THE FATHER’S FELLOWSHIP
But there was also another reason for Jesus’ continual withdrawals. The world is loud. Jesus often withdrew (sometimes whole nights) to pray. To spend the quietness in communion with the Father. Here, as a man, He would receive everything He needed. Rest, balance, strength, direction, joy. Can you imagine the conversations they had?
While on earth, Jesus was tempted to imbalance, but He always chose a centered life. When we gaze at His days on earth, we see precisely what a man should be. Humble, quiet, unhurried. Withdrawing both on a mountaintop and even in a crowd to receive the necessary centering to be right in line with His Father’s agenda. He may have looked foolish and imbalanced to many, but heaven would never see such a perfect human life.
Perhaps this is why only three years were needed to accomplish the greatest calling any man has ever been given. There was no wasted motion. No sideways energy. No spiritual confusion. Every second was spent wisely and rightly. He was perfectly in tune with His Father’s voice and the world’s needs. No fret or worry. No regret or guilt. No wondering if He did it right or frantic hours wondering what to do next. He withdrew when He needed to and spent Himself when necessary. And He was always about His Father’s business.
But notice this vital practice of His life which should be true of ours. He withdrew again and again. And so must we.
Lord Jesus, thank You for giving us the record of Your earthly life. When we pause to gaze on You, we see both a man as He should be and God as He is. “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father,” You said. Give us the wisdom to resist everything in this world that is unneeded. Every loud voice that tempts us to false self-adulation and self-glory. Every seemingly kind praise that makes us think more of ourselves and diverts glory from You. Help us to withdraw when needed to avoid temptation, but, more importantly, to listen to the One Voice that gives us everything we need.
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