Vs 5 And though (Herod) wanted to put (John) to death, he feared the people …
Vs 9 And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded … John beheaded in the prison …
Vs 13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.
Vs 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them …
Vs 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone …
There are a couple of comparisons happening in this chapter:
Fear vs. Compassion AND Crowds vs. Solitude
One is about how we feel toward the masses around us:
Herod “feared the people”.
Jesus saw a great crowd and “had compassion on them”.
The other is about the purpose and intentionality of being by yourself.
Jesus “withdrew from there … to a desolate place by himself”.
And later, Jesus “went up … by himself to pray”.
Jesus never stops being fascinating to watch!
And it becomes even more so, when we have direct contrasts with opposite behavior.
Herod feared the people and Jesus had compassion on them.
Herod attracted a crowd because he wanted to distract and entertain.
Jesus attracted a crowd because he wanted to teach and heal.
What about me? … Do I have more fear or more compassion … really?
It’s easy for me to say I have compassion when I’m choosing each of my interactions.
What about when there’s “a crowd”?
What about when everyone around me thinks differently or disagrees with me?
If I am truly going to live out my Christian faith, there will be plenty of times when I should stand in contrast to “the crowd”.
Do I, really?
Do I ever alter the way I should act or talk because I want to “please people” over
I am always “in the world”, but am I also always “of the world”?
And am I intentional about getting away from the world?
Today it’s easy to always be part of the crowd, even if it’s digital.
There is a lot of talk of loneliness today, and certainly that is a major problem,
But do I have intentional solitude, rather than incidental loneliness?
If Jesus was intentional about his times of solitude, perhaps I should be, as well!
There are active and intentional verbs to describe Jesus’ actions in this.
Jesus “withdrew” and Jesus “went up”.
I will have to get alone “on purpose”, and likely move myself to a separate space or place.
And when I do get alone, do I simply wallow in my own thoughts?
No! … This, too, is intentional … “to pray”.
Even when I am alone, I am not truly alone.
I am with God. He is with me.
I must take this solitude seriously and intentionally.
I think doing so will help me have more “compassion” than “fear” for “the crowd”.
Thank you, God, for your Word
Thank you for your steady example
Help me lean into you and not the crowd
Help me feel for those around me the way you do
In Jesus name