Jesus withdraws from the crowds
Thoughts about serving others
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One Reply to “Withdrawal from Crowds”
These parallel accounts of Jesus withdrawing from crowds continue to show how Jesus healed many people during his ministry. Matthew adds a reference to Isaiah, perhaps to speak to those who come from a Jewish background and know the prophets well. Mark emphasizes how those with impure spirits recognized him. In both cases, Jesus gives orders not to tell others about him.
Jesus keeps moving around, he goes to the people in all kinds of places. Though he withdraws from the crowds on occasion, it’s obvious that he’s not secluding himself, just making some space. Matthew includes a section from Isaiah 42, the great prophet who both sternly rebuked Israel as well as provided words of great hope for the future that Matthew now could see: Jesus. The variation of this quote from Isaiah in Matthew is interesting. Compare Isaiah 42:2 to Matthew 12:19:
Jesus came to bring peace. Even when he us ultimately betrayed by Judas in the Garden and the soldiers seize him, Jesus speaks about peace, not about some rebellion (see Matthew 26:52-56). When I read Matthew’s phrase, “no one will hear…” I think about the villages of his time, houses close together, streets of dirt and stone. This was a time when they didn’t have finely manicured lawns and 2-car garages where people quietly disappear in the suburbs to their private worlds in their private homes. This was a time when privacy was very different. If you raised your voice in the home, no doubt someone would hear. These were villages, not suburbs. People lived in community, they actually knew their neighbors; they relied on each other. Those who quarrel and are unable to restrain their temper would not be well thought of in those times.
In our culture, we put quarrelsome people on a pedestal and for some reason we tend to think those who can argue well are better than those who seek consensus. We’ve come so far. Jesus speaks truth and provides words that amaze those who listen, he even rebukes the Pharisees time and time again, but not for the purpose of demonstrating he is better; rather, for the intentionally honoring God.
Jesus healed many with disease, some who didn’t even ask! We don’t have lists of these people, just samples to demonstrate his power to heal, because that was not the main emphasis of his ministry. Perhaps Jesus asked them not to tell anyone because they might misunderstand the main purpose of his brief time on earth. Jesus came to save us all, but he felt the pain of those who walked with crippled feet, those who were shamed by others because of infirmities for which they had no known cure. It seems Jesus could really feel the pain of human suffering by being with the afflicted. He certainly didn’t shy away from them.
His main thing was not a traveling faith-healing sideshow, don’t go around telling people this for they will miss the point. In the chapters to come we will begin to understand more and in the years that have passed since, we have a chance to reflect and see his design for us all.