One of the drawbacks of being a celebrity is that it’s very difficult to find time to be alone. Walking down the street or driving to a coffee shop will ignite a frenzy of cameras, and phones, clicking pictures in the hope that the celebrity will say or do something that will make that one picture big news. Rumors about the celebrities explode after innocent remarks. Any time a celebrity is seen with someone new, tabloids scream about an impending marriage, or a marriage in trouble. Many celebrities have body guards who will clear a path through the crowds so that they can get their coffee or do their shopping. Most celebrities bemoan their lack of privacy, but would complain even more if people stopped noticing.
We get an interesting picture into the celebrity status of Jesus when we flashback to the story of John’s death. Herod heard the stories of Jesus and his guilty conscience made him think that John the Baptist had come back from the dead. Matthew then tells the story of John’s death and the reaction of Jesus. Jesus wanted to be alone, and so took a boat and headed off to a solitary place. Then, without Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, or any of the modern technology that tracks celebrities, the people heard that Jesus was getting away from it all and rushed to meet Him when He arrived. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)
Jesus had some of that alone time to grieve the death of John, but only on the boat. Once He arrived at His “solitary place” He was mobbed by the crowds. The crowds may not have known about the sorrow Jesus felt; they just knew that He was coming. Jesus saw the crowds and realized that His grieving time was over, and it was back to work. He began healing their sick. That’s when things got complicated. Night was falling and the disciples saw the problem. All these people, no food, something needs to be done! Their solution was to send them all out into the countryside, leaving them to their own devices. Jesus had a better idea and He threw an incredible funeral meal. He fed five thousand men, plus women and children, with five loaves of bread and two fish. Everyone ate, and there were leftovers. (Although how they were preserved without Tupperware is beyond me.)
Life goes on. Jesus had to share His grieving time with over five thousand strangers. He had to share that time by going back to work. Troubles hit all of us. Sometimes it’s a death of a family member or close friend. Sometimes it’s the death of a dream or an ambition. In the midst of our grief, we will be reminded not only that life goes on, but that our call from God continues also. The High Priest of the Jews wasn’t even allowed to grieve the death of parents (Leviticus 21:11) because the responsibility he had was so great. God allows us time to grieve. He knows that grieving is important when we suffer loss. Then, God draws us back, calling us to minister to others. He reminds us that we live in a hurting world and calls us to be ministers of His reconciliation. The work goes on. Interestingly enough, God calls us back into His service not so much for those to whom we minister, but for our own sakes. One of the best way to deal with sorrow and depression after a loss is to find a way to help others. We may wish more alone time to grieve. We may not want to see anyone else for a while. God knows our needs, though, and brings us to recovery by calling us to serve others. When we serve others, we stop focusing on our own worries and recognize the needs that they have. This is God’s way of bringing healing.
Oh Lord, sorrows come. It’s so easy to pull away from everyone during those times and focus on myself. Minister to me in those times, Lord, by making me aware of the need to serve others.