(From Matthew 14:6-26)
John the Baptist was murdered by Herod.
His associates buried his body and then went to find Jesus. They may have been some of the same associates who had gone to Jesus a few weeks earlier with a message from John: “Are you the one?”
At that time, Jesus had invited John’s representatives to look at the congruence between the work he was doing and what the prophets had said about the one to come. Things lined up. As John’s followers were walking away, Jesus told the crowd about John’s great and faithful work.
Now that John was dead, they carried the news back to Jesus. And he got in a boat and headed across the lake to be away.
It’s a human reaction. It’s a healthy reaction.
When people we love die, whether through illness or trauma, it hurts. We need space. Even when we understand that it is understood by God and known by God, as humans we need to give ourselves room to cry and cry out and crash.
We know it because in this moment, God-in-the-flesh needed space. He needed that room even with a deep understanding of what had happened, what was happening, what was going to happen, and why.
We know from the story that 15,000 people showed up and Jesus taught them and fed them graciously.
But then we know from the story that he sent his disciples away as quickly as possible. He sent the crowds away. And he went up into the hills along the lake to be alone with his thoughts and his Father. From late afternoon until just before daybreak he was there.
We don’t know the content of their conversation. It would have been honest. It would have been recalibrating. It must have been powerful.
Because afterward, Jesus caught up with his disciples in middle of the lake. Walking on water. Looking to them like a ghost would look. Perhaps with the kind of glow that Moses had after being in a tent with God.
In moments of grief, do the work you must, but be willing to walk away. If the smartest and emotionally strongest human ever had to, you and I probably do, too.