23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.
Our Lord had just lost His earthly cousin and divine herald, and no doubt keenly felt the loss, and throughout the day we see Him seeking to be alone, but there was no time to mourn, for there were yet people in need.
How selfless of Jesus to turn and not only minister to a large crowd, but to perform a miracle in their midst and feed them as well.
Do we need to wonder if we would do such during a time of mourning? As Christians, there should be no doubt of it, but as human beings, how many of us would turn to another in need and say, “I’m here for you. I will take care of you.”
There is nothing more to be done for the departed, however dreadful the loss, and though we never feel the same, time passes, and pain recedes, and we go on.
Most understand that in our grieving, time is needed.
Our Lord had no such luxury.
When Jesus heard it *(the beheading of John), He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself.
But when the multitudes head it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.
So great was their need, they walked the shoreline to find Him.
For some, it may have been just to get their immediate needs met; for others, it might have been in the hope that he would teach something that gave them hope. For yet others, it might have been a combination.
From what the text says, no one went there in doubt, unbelieving, for it says he healed their sick. They had to have faith in His ability, believe in His divinity, and trust that the Father worked through Him to accomplish good things.
After ministering to them, He seeks again to be alone, and sends the disciples ahead while He dismisses the crowd. No doubt there was more comfort to be given, more thanks to be received, more questions, more exclamations of gratitude and worship that He had to listen to before the last of them were gone.
v.23 “Now when evening came, He was alone there.”
A dark sky, a rapidly cooling desert wind, hard rocks beneath his knees, and yet He prays, for now He knows His hour is coming quickly, and He would draw comfort from John, but John is in Heaven, his mission complete.
And he watches in sorrow his cousin on His knees, alone in a dark and cold place, praying for strength, praying for comfort, for a touch of the Father’s hand, not because He’s in doubt, but because He’s in need.
Therefore I pray:
Father in Heaven, let me be mindful of Your goodness toward me in times of loss, whether it be of people, possessions, or positions. Keep me in mind of where my treasure lies, in view of Your glory, awaiting my return to You.
Thank You, Father, for the witness of John the Baptist, who preached of a different Passion, the Second Coming of Our Lord, as King Jesus, Lion of Judah, for His mission as Lamb of God was completed on the cross.
Let me hear from you in dark, deserted places, how You will never leave me or forsake me, how You will hide me in Your hand from my enemies, how you will deliver me from sin and the destroyer, give the lie to the Accuser by the power of the Blood of Your sinless Son, who took mine upon Him, that I be blameless before You.
Help me to heal, in whatever way You grant to me, those in greater need, those who have less than I after my own loss. Help me to mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice.
John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb at the presence of the Lord in Mary’s, and died in prison, unsure now of his infant leap of faith, not seeing the time he preached of fulfilled in his sight, alone in his own dark and solitary place, physically as well as spiritually.
Help me to walk by faith in the 4th hour of the watch, in the storm, when I can’t see You.
Let me proclaim the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, and let me be blessed instead of offended because of my Lord.
Let me not pray in doubt, but in need.
Let me not praise with my lips only, absent my heart.
And when I put out my sinking hand, and pray that You save me, You are there, reaching down to save a sinful man for no other reason than love.
Thank you for your compassion, as I interrupt Your prayers with my own selfish needs, hoping You teach me something that gives me hope.
In the Name of Jesus, I ask, believing I’ve already received.