Scripture: When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. (Matthew 14:13" href="https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+14%3A13&version=NKJV">Matthew 14:13, NKJV)

Observation: Matthew 14 begins with the sad story of the beheading of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod.  John had been thrown in prison for declaring Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife immoral, something that made Herodias, Herod’s wife, very angry.  She found the best opportunity to get rid of John on the day of Herod’s birthday.  Using her own daughter as the bait, she caught Herod in a moment if weakness, when lured by the sensual dance of his step-daughter he offered her anything she wanted.  Prompted by her mother, she asked for John’s head. . . the death sentence was passed and carried out immediately.
     John’s disciples took his body to be buried and then hurried to give Jesus the news of his  death.  Today’s passage tells us that when Jesus heard the news, He departed to a deserted place.  Evidently, while this took place, the disciples had also come back from their first missionary journey with various degrees of success and lots of stories to tell.  People were constantly surrounding Jesus, so His desire for some time away from them was not just for His own benefit but also for His disciples’ benefit.

Application: Those of us who are introverts can appreciate Jesus’ need to go away by Himself when He heard the news of John’s death.  We need to keep in mind that John was not only His forerunner, the one who baptized Him, and a powerful, compelling speaker; he was also Jesus cousin.  Losing John was not simply losing a colleague in the ministry, it was losing a close member of His family.
     Ellen White writes, “In a life wholly devoted to the good of others, the Saviour found it necessary to turn aside from ceaseless activity and contact with human needs, to seek retirement and unbroken communion with His Father. As the throng that had followed Him depart, He goes into the mountains, and there, alone with God, pours out His soul in prayer for these suffering, sinful, needy ones (The Ministry of Healing, p.58).
     As a police and hospice chaplain I have had to attend to people who have just lost a loved one.  Many are assisted by well-meaning relatives and friends who give them words which sound encouraging but do nothing to alleviate the pain.  Words like, “I know how you feel,” or “You should be glad. . . at least they’re not suffering anymore,” or “He/she’s in a better place and they’re watching over you,” or “My father/mother/sister/friend died of the same thing.”  I wish they would understand that at moments of sorrow it is not what you say what your presence and willingness to listen that can make the greatest difference for those grieving the death of their loved one.  Others, afraid that the living will suffer beyond their ability to survive will offer them some medication or suggest they ask their physician for a prescription.  Someone said that a lot of the mental challenges stem from unresolved grief, because people didn’t give themselves or others didn’t allow them time to grieve.
     Jesus’ example is best.  In His grieve, He took some time to be alone.  And he also understood that His disciples were tired and the news of John’s death, as well as the constant pressure of having to take care of people, could be detrimental to their health, faith, and well-being, so He took them appart for a while.  We, too, need some time off, after a traumatic situation, after the death of a loved one, to release our grief and to recharge our emotional batteries.  Allow yourself to feel the pain, the void left by your loss, to sorrow and grieve.  Live and express your emotions without hurting yourself or others; this is part of the normal process of grieving and healing.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, thank You for allowing us to see a glimpse of Jesus’ humanity and the sorrow He felt at the death of John.  During our time of sorrow, help us to feel and to live out our pain so that healing will come naturally and faster than if we suppress it all.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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