Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Journey, part 20: The One in Charge

When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done. Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida. But the crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing. (Luke 9:10-11 NASB)

After the disciples returned and gave their report to Jesus, He planned what might have been a little retreat. Jesus took His disciples with Him to Bethsaida (home at one time or another of Philip, Andrew, and Peter, James, and John). Scripture tells us He "withdrew by Himself" with the twelve. 

Of all the places they could have gone, why did He choose Bethsaida? Perhaps it was because five of the twelve had lived there previously and had either acquaintances or family there. Maybe they could count on hospitable accommodations in Bethsaida. 

What occurs to me, though, is that "a prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." (Mark 6:4 KJV) Perhaps Jesus was using a trip home to remind the disciples Who was in charge and who was not. Some of those very prominent apostles sometimes had a little difficulty with what position they occupied. (Remember that the mother of James and John wanted seats on either side of Jesus in His kingdom for her boys.) Perhaps Jesus knew that those five would be warmly welcomed but not exalted and lauded in Bethsaida. There's nothing like a trip home to bring you down a notch or two in the sweetest way imaginable, is there? 

At the same time, the crowds followed Jesus. They were not looking for any of the apostles. They wanted Jesus. The seeking crowd knew that, if they wanted the best, they needed to go to The One who was clearly in charge. After the Journey of Obedience, during which the apostles had been doing the preaching and healing, it must have been a little bit of a let down to go to their hometown and take a back seat to Jesus. 

It may have been a let down, but it was an important reminder that the power and authority with which they had been equipped for their journey had come only from Jesus. The changed hearts and lives, the healed bodies were accomplished only by the power that Jesus had given to them. Not one bit of the results of their efforts had come solely because of them, and this trip to Bethsaida made that abundantly clear. 

Sometimes we, too, need a little reminder that the fruit of our labors in the vineyard of God come as a result of our Lord alone, don't we?  The enemy of our soul has been whispering temptations toward pride since the Garden of Eden. "You can be like God," he whispers. No. We can't. There is a God, and we are not it. Only Jehovah is The Triune God and only He can create something beautiful from nothing, change despair to hope, bondage to freedom, death to life. Only God alone. Our role in this exciting life of faith is a gift of participation that is completely unmerited, and we do well to remember it. 

As we go about our day, let's be sure to thank God for the success we see and ask Him to show us all the ways He is at work in our lives. When we fix our eyes on God, we will not be able to look toward ourselves. All we will we see is our Lord, and that is the most beautiful sight of all. 

Today is a much anticipated day here in Blue Springs. Our new park opens today with a ribbon cutting at 10am and Friday Night Jam with live music in the park at 5:30, then Stories Under the Stars at 7:30. I'd appreciate prayers for pretty weather, good attendance at all events, safety for those who come, and that God would be honored in all we do. Thanks!