Jesus would slip away to the wilderness...
Luke 5:12-28 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” 13 And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him. 14 And He ordered him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 15 But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. 16 But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
17 One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. 18 And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him. 19 But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” 22 But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.” 25 Immediately he got up before them, and picked up what he had been lying on, and went home glorifying God. 26 They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
27 After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me.” 28 And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow Him.
People often refer to seasons in life that are difficult, or times when it seems as though God is far off, as wilderness times. God doesn’t leave us in the wilderness. When you look at the 40 years that the nation of Israel wandered in the wilderness, God never left them. He provided for them and His presence guided them day and night. For them the wilderness was about God working in them, not about God leaving them alone. Like them, we may indeed go through times when we are being changed, when God is working either to remove something of our old nature or to add more of His divine nature. If it seems that God is distant, we need to recognize that it is we who have wandered from Him. God’s promise is: "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6) God says: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you…” (Jeremiah 29:12-14) God will be found if we will seek Him with all of our heart. In fact we will find that He has always been there, that He has never left.
In today’s text it says: Large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Jesus actually went to the wilderness to be with God. The text says He would go there to pray. Prayer, for Jesus, was more than a time to ask for something. It was a time to commune with the Father, a time to be alone with Him and to hear and see what He was doing. In John 5:19-21 Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.” In John 10:30 Jesus says: "I and the Father are one." In going to the wilderness to pray, Jesus was spending quality time with the Father. He was listening to what God had planned. The kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven is eternal, not finite like our earthly kingdom. In being with the Father in His kingdom, Jesus could see the things of earth as God intended them to be, as they are in the heavenly kingdom. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray: Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. All that Jesus did and said was a manifestation of what he saw and heard in the presence of the Father. All of the miracles He performed every word He spoke and taught came from His time with the Father.
It is okay for us to petition and ask God for things. Jesus says: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) But more than simply asking for what we want, we should be asking for what God wants. We should be seeking His will. Jesus says: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:8,32-33) If we will, like Jesus did and like He says, seek the kingdom of God, if we will seek His righteousness and His will, the Father will reveal to us what He is doing. He will prepare us in advance for the things we will encounter. Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14) Jesus and the Father have called and commissioned us to continue, to do the things that Jesus did when He was here. If we will slip away to spend time with them, they will show us the things they are doing. The miracles Jesus performed and the authority of His teaching will be ours.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit today and each day as I slip away and seek Your presence reveal to me and prepare me for what I will encounter. May all that I say and all that I do flow out of the time I spend with You. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, may the realities of heaven be manifested here on earth. Amen.