Matthew 14 … Consider Him Who Withdrew

“Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself;” (14:13).

“Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone,” (14:23).

Jesus, fully God yet fully man, impacted by the brutal, barbaric beheading of His cousin and forerunner, Withdrew. The word translated from the Greek, “withdrew,” implies a considerable distance. The God-Man needed time to grieve, time alone, time away from the demands, the teaching, the healings, the throngs pressing and crowds imploring.

However, His grief and His desire for solitude would be overshadowed by His compassion for the hurting. His selfless love would move Him to meet the desperate needs. His own need for solitude was laid aside in order that He might give Himself to others, to the sick, the broken and distressed.

 Consider Him Who Withdrew

  • He Withdrew… but not His compassion.
    • “…and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them…” (14:13-14).
  • He Withdrew… but not His healing.
    • “… and healed their sick,” (14:14).
  • He Withdrew… but not His abundant provision.
    • “Jesus said to them, ‘They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!’ …He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied,” (14:16-20).
  • He Withdrew… but not His watchful care.
    • “But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea,” (14:24).
  • He Withdrew… but not His reassurance.
    • “When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid,'” (14:26-27).
  • He Withdrew… but not His longsuffering.
    • “Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?'” (14:31).
  • He Withdrew… but not His power.
    • “When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!'” (14:32-33).
  • He Withdrew… but not His amazing grace.
    • “And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent word into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick; 36 and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured,” (14:35-36).

How do we respond to Him Who Withdrew?

Whatever our trial, concerns, troubles or worries, let us cling to Him Who never withdraws His grace. Let us join with the Psalmist in faith and proclaim the truth found in Psalm 103.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits…” (Psalm 103:1-2).

Today let us spend time recounting His unlimited benefits, letting go of our concerns and worries, determined to recall and consider His faithful lovingkindness.

When we “feel” like He has withdrawn, remember feelings lie. Let us resolutely choose to recount all He has revealed in His Word and all we have experienced from His faithful hands: His compassion; His healing; His abundant provision; His watchful care; His reassurance; His longsuffering; His power; His amazing grace.

We are never alone; He has given us Himself and has promised He would never leave us nor forsake us; what more can we possibly need?

“He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

Let’s Grow Together!

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