When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.
Drama draws us in. Tension gets our attention. In an iPad, Netflix, Hulu world, we want life and death, happiness and sadness, an unexpected turn of events, an action hero.
Of course, when you read the Bible, you see all of that. Jesus is special forces tough and superhero strong. Jesus walks on water. Jesus tells the sky to stop raining and the wind to stop blowing…and they listen. Jesus commands fish to jump in a fisherman’s net and they listen. The Gospels are a highlight reel of Jesus’ power—the Almighty Savior from heaven turning the laws of nature inside out. But he doesn’t do that in our Bible reading for today.
Consider the simple words: When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Is there anything miraculous about that?
Usually, we associate a “withdrawal” with a quiet retreat, a concession of defeat. And that would be what we would expect here. If you are Jesus and a friend of your cause garners the negative attention of the authorities and is imprisoned, maybe you try to lay low for a while, withdraw to a less conspicuous place to avoid the heat. But Jesus had just been in the less conspicuous place—away from civilization, tempted in the wilderness by the devil. Withdrawing to Galilee, in reality, meant going to where the people were and where the heat was on, with Jesus now publicly taking up the cause of preaching the gospel in John’s absence. When Jesus withdrew to Galilee, he wasn’t slinking away from the heat, he was rushing to the frying pan.
That is Jesus. Where we might resort to self-preservation and self-protection, Jesus miraculously, courageously embraces the work of God’s kingdom. That’s the kind of Savior we have. Giving no thought to his own well-being, he rushes to where his people need him.
Jesus, I praise you for your miraculous courage. Your people still need you today. Graciously, powerfully rush to our aid. Amen.