One thing that you see as you study the ministry years of Jesus is just how many people responded to him in the places that he went. The Bible constantly references crowds and multitudes, and I’m sure that it quickly became difficult to move around, to teach, or to do much of anything with masses of people mobbing you everywhere you went. As we continue to study the book of Luke today, we see a moment like this unfold.
Luke 9:10 When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done. Then he slipped quietly away with them toward the town of Bethsaida.
There’s something really important in the verses today, especially if you’re someone who does any sort of service or ministry for God. I can tell you from experience that doing any sort of ministry for God gets overwhelming at times. Anyone who also does ministry will almost certainly back me up. There’s a lot to be done for the Kingdom of God but finding those willing to give of themselves to do it isn’t always easy. This is even confirmed in Luke.
Luke 10:2 These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.
When the harvest is great but the workers are few, there’s an increased burden on the workers to do as much work as they possibly can. This isn’t a “woe is me” or a “look how holy I am” thing, this is just a fact. When you are working at this high pace for God, you come to put a higher and higher premium on rest. After all, being an ambassador for Jesus is a 24-hour a day job, so you try to take the breaks and downtime when you can.
I’m always encouraged to read Bible verses that remind me that Jesus was just as human as I am, and I feel like that’s what we see here in verse 10. The apostles had gone out and done some ministry on their own, they come back, and Jesus takes his reunited crew and does something I find pretty funny. They sneak off. The Bible words it a little more nicely than that, saying they “slipped quietly away”, but we all get what it’s saying. You don’t do that if you’re looking to be followed or to make a scene. You do that when you want to be left alone.
In my entire life, I’ve never had less downtime than I do now. I’m working more hours than ever, doing more ministry than ever, doing more one on one ministry than ever, it’s just a non-stop life that God has constructed for me. I love it, but I definitely try to find pockets of time where I can do what Jesus did in these verses and slip quietly away. In those moments, I can feel pretty entitled to a break. So you can just imagine how it feels when I lay down on the couch, throw on a movie, and five minutes later my cell phone goes off with someone saying “Hey, got a few minutes to talk?” Not gonna lie, my immediate response in those moments isn’t always 100% godly. Just keeping it real here, a lot of times I’ll mutter something like “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
But see, anything I go through, Jesus went through first.
Hebrews 4:15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.
So here in Luke, we see a moment when Jesus tried to sneak off, tried to have some sort of a quiet moment away from the crowds. But just like it doesn’t seem to work for me very often, it didn’t work out for him. Look at what happened after he slipped away.
Luke 9:11 But the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him. He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and he healed those who were sick.
And just like he does every time, Jesus shows me and everyone else how to handle every situation. It’s not wrong to want to slip away or to need to slip away, but when people seek you out and are in need, Jesus welcomed them and taught them. This is definitely a word for me, but my hope is that anyone else who is in ministry will receive it also. It’s okay to try to take time for ourselves, but when it fails we need to graciously tend to those who sought us out.
I think it’s worth pointing something out before we end today’s blog. The crowd that followed Jesus here? The one that he so graciously welcomed and taught? They got pretty hungry eventually, and since Jesus and the crew hadn’t planned on a big event, they only had a few loaves of bread and fish. Thus the stage was set for one of Jesus’ most memorable and enduring miracles as he multiplied the food to feed the entire crowd. Had he informed the masses that “today is my day off” when they tracked him down, this historic and amazing event that has inspired the faith of billions of people since would’ve never taken place. To me, that’s reason enough to never turn away a ministry opportunity, even if it does interrupt my limited Netflix time.
I always love when I can look directly to the example that Jesus sets when trying to figure out how to act in my own life. I’ve got a quick funny story for you before I sign off here. Worship practice got canceled tonight, leaving me facing a very very rare Monday night off. Even though I’m working late, I was still already salivating over the idea of going home, relaxing, doing some reading, and just resting in general. So it should come as no surprise that my phone went off this morning with someone asking if I can meet up this evening to talk to them about some things. I just had to smile knowing what today’s blog was about. Anyone who says that God doesn’t have a sense of humor just hasn’t spent enough time getting to know Him.
I love all of you. If you have any prayer requests or just need to talk, my email is always open to you. firstname.lastname@example.org