Matthew 14:13, “Now when Jesus heard this, [the death of his cousin John the Baptist], he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself.” Matthew 14: 23, “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,…”
In part 1, I wrote about Jesus’ displays of introversion based on his 40 days of retreating to the desert and him being tempted by Satan while there. This time I will be looking at Matthew 14 where we are shown more of Jesus’ introvert style.
After Jesus is informed about the beheading of John the Baptist, he decides to go off by himself, not to just any place, but to a deserted place on his own. It is easy to say he did this because he feared being next on the chopping block, but I don’t believe this theory is the sole reason for Jesus retreating into isolation. By being alone Jesus is able to process the death of John, pray to God, and gather strength and clarity for deciding what his next steps would be. In the bible, Jesus displays a range of human emotions, he shows compassion, fear, anger, frustration, love, and grief complete with tears. His (possibly) introverted nature leads him to a deserted place to be alone with his thoughts and emotions and most importantly he is finally able to be alone with God.
When people are faced with the loss of someone or something important to them, their friends and acquaintances tend to flock towards them with advice, condolences, questions, and their own emotions regarding the loss. I can imagine the men mourning alongside Jesus, while simultaneously asking him a series of questions: “Jesus, what should we do? Do we organize and fight? Do we leave the area? Where do you think John is in the afterlife? Are you alright?” and on and on.
Jesus knows he needs some time to be away and alone, but somehow others don’t understand that. The crowds found out where he was and went to him. In the midst of his grief and mourning, he chose to acknowledge those who found him and healed them of various illnesses and even made time to perform the miracle of turning 5 loaves of bread into enough pieces to feed over 5,000 people. Again, as in the story of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, he shows us the importance of refueling one’s self and making time to be alone with God. His times of solitude segway into his healing others and performing miracles. If Jesus did not give into these introvert character traits, I’m not sure what his ministry would look like. An emotionally stretched and drained person has less to offer to those he or she serves. Recharging yourself is an important and critical part of being an effective servant of God.
John 6:15 tells us that after feeding thousands of people, the crowd wanted to make Jesus a king against his will. Thankfully Jesus did not get drawn in by such an honour. Jesus knew what his calling and his role was, and it certainly wasn’t to be an earthly king. The end result is that Jesus dismisses the crowds, sends the disciples ahead of him in a boat on their own; and for himself, he chooses to head to the mountains to be alone.
Jesus’ alone time prepares him to say no to the temptations of the world and instead focus on the will of our father God. For introverts, being around too many people for too long not only drains their energy, it also affects their moods, and decision making abilities. Jesus knew how he was wired and he knew what he had to do in order to stay focused on the will of God and not the earthly temptations of people and power.
Read all of Matthew 14, make note of events that happen after Jesus has spent time in solitude. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the writers mention that Jesus had engaged in intentional times of withdrawing from others.
QUESTION: When you have to make important decisions, is your natural tendency to discuss your options and dilemmas with others or be on your own to ponder the situation? Think of some recent examples from this past year.
Why might it be important for extroverts to also spend time alone with God when faced with upsetting news and major decisions?
ACTION: If you are an extrovert, think of some ways that you can spend quality time recharging so you will be well fueled for your calling, your ministry, and your duties.
If you are an introvert, take time to schedule meaningful quiet, alone time so you can be recharged as well. Book the date and time in your planner or electronic calendar. Be intentional.