“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat
and go on ahead of him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowd.”
Matthew 14:22 (NIV)
“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone…”
Matthew 14:23 (NIV)
Up to the time of our verses Jesus had been teaching His followers about the coming Kingdom. Now He turns to teaching about the King—that is—Himself. Soon He would start teaching the disciples about the death He would accomplish at Jerusalem (Matthew 16:21). Also our Lord knew that the sermon He would preach the next morning would cause many of His disciples to walk away from Him (John 6:66).
Obviously this is a tragic moment in Jesus’ life. What He does at such a crucial time is an important lesson for all of us to see. Jesus withdrew from the crowds, sent the disciples to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and went to a lonely place by Himself to pray.
If our Lord needed time alone to seek the face of His heavenly Father, how much more do we need peace and quiet in our times of stress and grief in order to get our scattered thoughts together to face the future.
Jesus had already withdrawn from the multitudes (Mark 6:31) just before this time—when He heard the news of John the Baptist being beheaded. However the crowds had followed Him and He met them, fed them physically and spiritually, and healed the sick. So the withdrawal mentioned in our verses is the second in a day’s time.
There is nothing wrong with a temporary withdrawal to collect our thoughts, rest, and prepare for the next challenging event. However, withdrawal from the normal routine of life is not a good plan when we stay away from the usual business of life and become paralyzed with fear and cease to be productive.
Stepping aside from life for lengthy periods is a sign of being dysfunctional. We see that every time crowds came to Him He met their needs and ceased being alone. This is so important. We must keep on with life after a brief time alone to catch our breath.
After an evening of solitude or an afternoon of quiet prayer it is time to get back to the hard work of living in a world cursed because of sin. So lift up your eyes and see what it is the Lord wants you to do next. Put yourself in the way of opportunity and serve the needs of others as Jesus did.
Yes, satisfy your need for peace and quiet, and then go in the strength of the Lord and you shall be blessed in what you do.