Properly Placed Identity

Matthew 14:13 “Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.”

Observation: If ever a man had reason to mourn, it was Jesus. John the Baptist, Jesus’s cousin, had just been beheaded. John, this “lamp that was burning and was shining” (see John 5:35), Jesus’ friend, the forerunner of the Bridegroom, was dead. Jesus went to a secluded place to grieve. Notice how emphatic the phrase is in describing it as “a secluded place” (the NIV says “a solitary place”), and “by Himself.” 

Application: This is a picture of someone who desperately wanted to be by himself, yet multitudes followed Him. His desire to be alone surely reflected the devastation Jesus felt over His loss, yet in the midst of it, Jesus kept His focus on His purpose. He kept His vision, as shown by feeding multitudes of His followers later that same day.

Each of us will be confronted with startling loss. Relationships will be sundered; financial status once secure will become shaky. Nothing in this life is permanent except change, and it’s often painful. How we respond to such loss is a measure of our reliance upon Him to meet our every need.

As a man who has experienced the devastation of the loss of my wife, I well understand Jesus’s desire to withdraw from the crowds, to be utterly alone for a season. Conviction comes when I realize how much “alone” time I required for vision to be rebirthed in my heart. Jesus, on the other hand, had His identity so deeply rooted in God Himself rather than in the thing that had been lost, that He was able to continue ministering even that same day.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your example of what it is to have my identity so completely in You that the storms and trials of life cannot deter or derail me from following You. I pray for Your full restoration of purpose and vision to my heart and mind, Lord. Cause me, like Jesus, to be a vessel that continually receives Your refreshing, and that then pours out and refreshes all around me.

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