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Apr 6 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Forty-eight – Matthew 14:1-21

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you

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. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:13-14

John the Baptist was not a political figure, he was a spiritual leader. He did not rally people for a polical cause or spout an ideology. But whenever a person takes a strong and vocal position regarding the impact of God’s righteous will on society, there are inevitable political consequences.

After hearing about John’s execution, Jesus wanted to be alone. He needed, first of all, to deal with the grief he now carried of having lost John to Herod’s axe. Secondly, he had to work through the realization that he was next. John was first on the scene, announcing the coming of Jesus. Now he was also first to be taken out by violence. As Jesus followed John in ministry, so he would follow him to his execution. There was no retirement or death by natural causes for either John or Jesus.

And what happened to the quiet time Jesus hoped to spend alone in “a secluded place”? It was denied him. Now if it were me seeing the crowds arrive, I would have been upset, on edge, overwhelmed. I would have sent my disciples to intercept the crowd and tell them to go away, that I was too weary and had nothing to give them. But the moment he saw them coming–some limping, some blind and led by others, some diseased–, what Jesus felt was not for himself, but for them. He “felt compassion.”

Jesus Christ, always on. Always available.

We praise You, O Lord, for the strength of Your love. You have never allowed the vast neediness of humankind to drive you to despair. Instead, it always moves You to compassion. We apologize for bringing You even more sickness–of body, mind, or spirit–by laying our condition before Your feet. Yet this is what You desire and this is why You have come. Jesus Christ, Son of God, thank You for the mercy that embraces us.

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