"Herod had John the Baptist
beheaded in the prison"
Sometimes we wonder why things happen when they do. Especially when it's something bad, on top of something bad. "Why is God doing this to me?" we think. Or maybe you've thought to yourself, "I think maybe this time God has given me more than I can handle." Or even, "I don't think He understands what I'm going through, or He wouldn't be asking this of me right now!"
"John's disciples went and told Jesus."
At Herod's birthday celebration, the daughter of Herodias danced for him. He was so pleased, he promised to give her anything she asked for, and at her mother's prompting, she requested the head of John the Baptist.
John the Baptist was Jesus' cousin. But more than that, he was His prophet. Echoing the words of Isaiah, "I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord!"
"When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place."
Verse 13 gives us a glimpse into Jesus' pain upon hearing the news of John's death. Though He knew it was coming, it still caused Him to grieve. And in His grief, all He wanted, was to be alone.
Look at the words in that verse: "withdrew"... "privately"... "solitary"... You can't miss the message here. Jesus didn't often think of Himself, but here He pulled away, from His disciples, and from the crowds.
"Hearing of this,
the crowds followed Him on foot from the towns"
But it wasn't to be. "Really? Now? Can I just get some time to Myself??" No. Nor "why didn't you stop them?" to the disciples. Instead...
"When Jesus saw a large crowd,
He had compassion on them and healed their sick."
Service. Love. Compassion. In the midst of His grief. And then? As if that wasn't enough.
"As evening approached,
the disciples came to Him...
'Send them away,
so they can buy themselves some food.'"
The people had another need. But He had a plan.
"Taking the five loaves and the two fish
and looking up to heaven,
He gave thanks and broke the loaves.
The number of those who ate
was about five thousand men,
besides women and children."
A miracle. One of His biggest, in terms of the number of people who were blessed. 5000 men. Plus the women. Plus the children. Plus the disciples.
When all He wanted was to be alone.
He understands "Why this? Why now?" He did it, too.
"There is a time appointed for everything"