Thursday, May 26, 2011
Evil Meets Good
"Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself." - Matthew 14:13.
Can you imagine hearing that your cousin (John the B) had been beheaded for a trifle? Can you imagine walking in Jesus' sandals? I can't.
What was going through his head when he heard that his cousin, the one who played such an intimate role in Jesus' kingdom reign, the herald, had been brutally murdered? Not only this, but John was murdered AND his head given as a gift!
Why? Simply because John was good (as well as bold). He spoke out against the tyranical religious and political figures of his day. Maybe he figured, "I subside on locusts and live in the desert, I don't have much to lose." Somehow I doubt it.
There's something really mysterious going on in John's ministry and death isn't there? To be a herald for the king, I'd imagine you'd come in with trumpets blasting, wearing your finest and speaking with a conquerer's attitude. What is this humble herald? He did seem to have some of the conquerer's attitude though didn't he.
Maybe these were things that were tumbling around in Jesus' heart, mind and soul as he withdrew to a desolate place to be by himself. Maybe the powerful shock of two kingdoms colliding, the kingdom of good and God and the kingdom of evil and man was a little too much for Jesus. And perhaps-maybe he needed some time to mourn the tragedy of a friend. You think!
I'm sure he needed some time to swallow the bitter pill of what he was up against - very raw and real EVIL. Can you imagine being Jesus? Knowing a little of what bringing good into a world ruled by evil would do. Knowing that 11 of your closest friends would be murdered because of good. Knowing that you were about to suffer the most terrible fate... ever. Knowing that you were to drink down pure undistilled, unfiltered EVIL and drink it all, all evil, down to the very last drop.
I think I'd withdraw. I'd withdraw to someplace far, far away. Maybe to the joy of future Mormons everywhere, I'd run to the Americas and seek out a new life among the Indians.
I'd run. I'd hide. I'd lie. I'd do anything it took to ensure that what happened to John, wasn't about to happen to me. And on top of all this, if I knew that my furture involved my life being given as a gift to the Devil, I'd run for a long long time. I'm glad I wasn't Jesus.
So what does Jesus do? He withdraws to a desolate place and people chase. If I was Jesus, I'd have told the brainless sheep-people to buzz off. My cousin had just been murdered for crying out loud! Leave me alone!
But he doesn't, showing extreme mercy, extreme in that it had to drain Jesus to no end, he speaks to the people, continuing on his mission to share his goodness. He feeds them. Then he dismisses the crowds to pray.
Jesus faces the worst with humility, not pride, and he goes to his strength, the Father. And in the starkest backdrop, he finds in God the resource to continue spreading good. And he keeps taking the next step of obedience. Step, step, step all the way to the cross.
We have to commune with this Jesus. We have to learn the steps. We have find his humility and strength. We have to repent and depend. We have to find his obedience at work in us.
We have to and he does. That's the mystery. As much as we need to seek, we're sought. As much as we need him, we run away. As much as we must rest in his arms, we rest in the arms of any other lover.
But this Jesus, the Jesus who withdrew and drew near, this Jesus who drank evil, this Jesus who preached real goodness, good news for the broken, never gives up on us, his sheep-people.
We need to withdraw to be with Him for He knows the Way.