Matthew 14:13–14 (HCSB)
13 When Jesus heard about it, He withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. When the crowds heard this, they followed Him on foot from the towns. 14 As He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd, felt compassion for them, and healed their sick.
I’m an introvert that loves people. And that often makes working in Christian ministry hard. Minor inconveniences can throw off my emotional cadence, leaving me ready to retreat to quiet and solitude.
Jesus takes me to school here in Matthew 14. He hears about the gruesome execution of John – his relative and partner in ministry – at the hands of Herod, and he just wants to get away to be alone to reflect and pray. What a glimpse of Jesus’ humanity. He shows us a very relatable response to grief and loss with his need for solitude and time alone with God.
But he’s given little time to himself. His ministry follows him everywhere. As soon as he steps off the boat – there they are. The relatable equivalent would be escaping the office only to run into a crowd of church members at Starbucks. And yet Jesus doesn’t put the boat in reverse when he sees needy people waiting for him. He feels compassion for them and heals their sick. (1) He doesn’t fake his care, but instead musters the proper, righteous emotions for the situation. (2) He acts in these peoples’ lives. He shows that he cares, regardless of their motivations.
Brother Pastors, let’s not hide from the mess in front of us. Let’s enter into that mess with Christ-like emotions and care.