I’m reading through the book of Matthew right now. I heard someone say once that you need to read through all four of the Gospels before you can fully fall in love with Jesus. I think part of the reason that this may be true is because each book was written by a different follower of Jesus, and they each recorded the Jesus they saw. I’m not saying that the four Gospels disagree with each other in any way, I’m just saying that it’s sort of like they each got a video camera to record the life of Jesus, but they were all standing in different places when they did so, so you get a different view in each book.
In Matthew chapter 14, Jesus finds out that John the Baptist was beheaded. I’m sure, being the Christ and all, that He knew John was going to be beheaded. He may have even known it was happening while it was happening. I don’t know. But when Jesus found out that John had been beheaded, it says that He “withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” He needed to be alone; He needed to grieve His cousin’s death. The humanity of Jesus on earth was such that even though He knew, without a doubt, that John was now in Heaven with His father, he was still sad to see Him leave the earth. He understood the pain it would cause John’s disciples, John’s family, and also, Himself.
I think that when Jesus ascended to Heaven, He may have grieved a little bit. I bet He really missed His disciples. Talk about bromance– these guys spent every waking hour together for three years. Combine this with the fact that Jesus was the only man to walk the earth who had the ability to love people in a completely unselfish, wholehearted way, and I think it would be safe to bet that He missed His friends. He probably grieved a little bit, knowing the ways that they would end up leaving this earth, but He also rejoiced, knowing that each of them would be joining Jesus at the big block party in Heaven that I am positive is taking place 24/7 up there.
So after Jesus finds out that John has been violently beheaded per the request of a spoiled princess (literally), He tries to take some time to be alone. However, when He docked at the other end of the lake, there was a giant crowd waiting for Him, begging to be healed. The Bible says that “He had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to Him and said, ‘This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’
Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat. ‘
‘We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they answered.
‘Bring them here to me,” He said. And He directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to Heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves…They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.”
I’m trying right now to remember a day when I found out something awful, something that made me want to crawl under my covers and sob. I’ve had a few of these days, none though, where I found out that a good friend had been murdered. Even so, on my most awful days, which don’t seem that awful compared to this, I have been dead set on self-preservation. Healing alone. Hiding. Having friends take care of me. Jesus was alone for the length of a short boat ride. I bet He got off the boat, took one look at the sickness and pain in the crowd before Him, and that giant heart of His just couldn’t let Him do anything but heal and comfort the people.