Time Alone

Matthew 14:1–23

Jesus’ cousin and herald was dead. He was murdered. Why was he murdered? He called the powerful to account.

Herod’s marriage to Herodias had some issues. Herod had visited Herodias while she was still married to Herod’s brother, Philip. They decided they like each other, so they decided to be married.

However, Herodias didn’t want to share the house with Herod’s current wife who wisely read the writing on the wall and fled to her father’s house. As a historical aside, this created bad feelings and ultimately led to the military defeat of Herod, eventual downfall and exile.

So, Herod wasn’t really divorced or a widower. His brother was still alive. Yet Herod married his brother’s wife. The only time in Jewish law that was appropriate was when the brother had died with no son.

John the Baptist condemned it. Herod, probably more to please Herodias than anything, put John in jail. Herodias wasn’t satisfied, and we read the rest of the story.

Jesus’ first response wasn’t to call Herod to account. Jesus made no public declaration at all. How different than our current age.

Jesus’ first response was to withdraw. Just like the rest of us at times, Jesus was not going to just move on. It is easy to infer that Jesus needed time to grieve and spend time with God the Father, even though the Scriptures do not give a full explanation.

Not that it’s bad to step away and grieve. It’s healthy, and there is a Jewish practice that goes with that (something that the church needs to approach). 

Even more so for Jesus, John was his herald, his baptizer, his cousin, and probably the one person that Jesus felt a spiritual kinship due to their tied-together callings.

What happened next is sad, but we see it today. A famous person has a bad (or good) event, and people clamor around them. Famous people today have PR people deliver a statement that often asks for personal and private space to grieve. How sad that it isn’t given automatically.

Jesus may have intended such, but then see how he loved them. Jesus set aside his needs for others.

However, there are a couple of pieces that need to be addressed. First, the amount of time spent was actually minimal. It also had an end. Then once the people were satisfied, he sent the disciples away, the people away, and he had time between himself and God.

Often the focus is that Jesus set his needs aside for others. He did. Jesus also still made sure his needs were met.

In times of trial and trouble, such as caring for family that are ill, it is easy to set one’s needs aside. In the end, that breaks us unnecessarily. Not only are we hurt, but often we hurt others as our internal limits are broken.

We are not machines that can go and go. Honestly, machines can’t either. Machines need maintenance. So do we. Make sure that you are finding time for yourself and finding time for God. This is not a waste of time. It is what makes the rest of the time sustainable.

※Prayer※

Jesus, as we live in a high-performance culture, help us to keep the vital rhythm of care for ourselves and fellowship with you. Amen.

※Questions※

1) What practices do you have to “maintain” yourself? Do you have any that involve doing nothing?

2) Have you ever experience relief of anguish or pain because you were distracted by other needs? What happened to the anguish or pain?