John 6:14-21: OFTEN

“14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’ 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.”NIV

”But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 4:16).

What you decide to do ‘often’ is important to you. It is a priority.

In a time of pressure, demand, and possibly dangerous temptation, Jesus again withdrew to a solitary place (15b). This is also instructive for us. Like Jesus, we need to build into our lives a pattern of withdrawal in order to advance. This is not about escapism or laziness. We go away from people and noise, only temporarily, in order to come back in power, and do the will of God. As someone observed, ”You need to learn that if you’re going to minister effectively to people, you can’t always be with people.”

Time away from the pressure and clamour of the crowd will help you to regain composure and perspective.

Jesus, in God’s time, descended the mountain and walked on the lake to save His terrified followers (16-21).

Do you have a solitary place you can go to on a regular basis? Matthew Henry has commented that we are never less alone than when we are thus alone – alone with the Father. Jesus is our example. Like Him, we go to the ‘lonely places’ in order to pray. That is not just to make requests, but it is to enjoy communion. It is not simply about ‘asking of’ but ‘being with’ – and it is recreating.

We don’t go away from people to run from reality.

We do it to recharge.

We do it to refuel.

And we return powered up for more effective service – to do things we could not do without being with the Father.

Always remember that when we are ‘willing’ to receive Jesus into our situations, just as He is (21), that’s when miracles happen.

It also strikes me that Jesus here models the ability to say ‘No’ to other people’s agendas for your life.’God made you and has a wonderful plan for your life.’ But somebody quipped, ‘God made you, and other people have a wonderful plan for your life!!’ You need a strong sense of what the Father wants of you, and then you can feel secure in that to turn opportunities down that don’t fit, however enticing they may be.