I must admit that some of the parables and stories of Jesus I’ve read so often that I sometimes go through them too quickly because of their familiarity. Thank goodness for the Holy Spirit who leads me to pause a moment and opens my eyes to see previously unnoticed sights.
In Matthew 14, the story of the death of John the Baptist unfolds. After the burial of the body, John’s disciples went and told Jesus. Now John and Jesus were more than just fellow ‘ministers’ (would that be the term?), they were cousins just 6 months apart in age. In our family, cousins share a very strong bond. Mobility and travel were much different in that time so I don’t know how often Jesus and John were together but regardless they would still have grown up hearing about their family connections.
In Matthew 14:13, we see Jesus’ response to the sad news-
“When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solidary place.”
Yes, Jesus was the Son of God even then so he knew more than anyone else the joys John was experiencing in heaven- he knew John was in a better place. Yet Jesus was also fully man and had just lost a friend… a cousin… and he mourned the loss. Sometimes we all just need some time alone to come to grips with losses in life whether they be loved ones or relationships. Yet Jesus didn’t get much time alone and this is the beautiful part! The very next verse says-
“Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:14
What a beautiful picture Jesus paints of a servant’s heart! Even though he was dealing with the loss of a loved one, he still reached out to help others! I’m overwhelmed by him! My Jesus didn’t just tell us to put others first or to love our neighbors as our self- he showed us how to do it with every word he spoke, every step he took, and with every encounter he had with hurting people no matter what he was dealing with. I’m humbled before my Lord for I know I often fall short of the example Jesus set for me to follow.
Dear Lord, I truly, from the bottom of my heart, desire to be more Christ-like. His love and compassion were so perfectly seen in his willingness to serve even in his grief. What a beautiful Savior! Thank you, God, for the Bible and the opportunity to know my Jesus more every time I open the pages. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear! Thank you, Spirit, for guiding me and directing my attention to such a beautiful, tender, loving scene. Now, please change my heart today to be more like Christ. Amen!