Have you ever had one of those times where you just want to be alone? Maybe you were busy and had an urgent task to complete, maybe you were exhausted and needed a nap, or maybe you just a few minutes of silence. Whatever the case, we’ve all been there. As we read through the gospels, we see that Jesus had days like that too. Luke 9:10-11 describes one of those days in the ministry of Jesus.
Jesus had recently sent his 12 disciples out on a sort of messianic mission trip. They cast out demons, healed the sick, and preached the message of the Kingdom. Now they had returned, excited to tell Jesus all the ways they experienced the power of God. So, in order to have some time celebrating with his disciples, Jesus withdrew from the crowds to the town of Bethsaida (Luke 9:1-10).
Do you get the picture? Here is Jesus taking his disciples for some time alone with them. But we see in verse 11 that the crowds somehow hear about where Jesus has gone and follow Him. And how did Jesus react? “And Jesus rebuked the crowds…, ” no. “And Jesus seeing the crowds sighed…,” nope. “And Jesus said, ‘Hey guys give us a minute,'” no.
Instead, we read, “and Jesus welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing,” (Luke 9:11). That is amazing. Jesus welcomed them, not begrudgingly or out of duty, but gladly and took the time to serve their needs. People were not a distraction or interruption to Jesus. Rather, it was His joy to serve and love them, ultimately by laying down His life. That is why He came (Mark 10:45).
I don’t know about you, but I find my reaction to people is often far different from that of Jesus. I often act as if it is a chore to serve others: I grumble, I am rude and dismissive, I snap at my kids for interrupting me while watching SportsCenter. The difference? Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14) and I am, well, full of my self. When Jesus saw the crowds He didn’t sigh, He served. He didn’t grumble, He gave. He didn’t run, He received. Jesus understood (and still does) that what the people needed most was Him. And He is never short of the grace to give the truth of Himself.
The point: I need the grace of Jesus to see and love like Jesus. The grace to be reminded that He always has time for me, that He gave His very life for me, even when in my sin and rebellion I didn’t deserve it. And I need His strength to then show others that same grace. To remember others around me need the grace and truth of Jesus too. To remember that people and their needs aren’t a distraction, but that people are the point. And then like Jesus, to welcome them and give them grace and truth.