Theme of the Week: Stress
Bible Verse: Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:15-16
Scripture Reading: Matthew 11:28-30
Despite Jesus’s best efforts to keep things quiet, news of his power-filled ministry spread. Imagine his journey for a moment. Jesus leaves the desert temptation, finally beginning his public ministry that will climax God’s plan of redemption. The inbreaking power of the Kingdom of God has set captives free, filled nets, and healed the sick. He became famous for his miracles. People traveled from all over with their sick, hopes and expectations high.
Let’s return to our understanding of stress. Stress is the body’s response to pressure; it happens when uncertainty meets expectations. Imagine the stress that may have generated. The expectation of the crowds because of the reputation of a power-filled encounter. The hopes of greater societal liberation. We might also feel the uncertainty, “will I be able to keep up with the demands around me?”
But there is an incredible insight in this passage that we shouldn’t overlook. What amazes me about this passage is specifically the words, “Jesus often withdrew.”
When you search the gospels, it’s difficult to find any instance where someone comes to Jesus with a need (healing, oppression, questions) and Jesus does not bring a kingdom fulfillment. The closest is perhaps the story of Lazarus. Lazarus’ family sought Jesus, he delayed, and Lazarus died. Still, Jesus raises him from the dead. Jesus is spoken about as being “moved by compassion,” and still, when faced with the constant pressure of need and ministry, “Jesus often withdrew.”
Jesus models for us a way of being alone and with the Father during pressure and expectation. Whatever pressures we face, we have one who sympathizes with us in our weakness yet models the way. Jesus. Often. Withdrew.
Prayer: God, it is easy to have tunnel vision, to focus so intently on the problems in front of me that I can’t see anything else. Help me to take a step back and envision a larger picture. Help me to see all that you are doing in my life and in the world.
Challenge: Find some time today, even just 10 minutes to turn everything off. Stop doing. Just rest and be alone with God. Take that time to breathe and pray and listen.
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