When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. (ESV)
In a world of global upheaval it is easy to just condition ourselves to accept atrocities with the understanding that the world is imperfect, sinful, evil, etc… But in times of persona trial it isn’t nearly as easy to “write off” the problem as universal and go on about our lives. Suddenly we are “in” the situation instead of “beside” it. We probably get far too calloused by daily news reports of the problems of the world to “feel” any kind of profound compassion or sympathy. On some level i feel like its evil to be able to witness atrocities, or read the reports, and not feel the pains of compassion for those that are hurt or afflicted. But i am guilty of it as well. It was probably never the deign of life to be assaulted by twenty-four hours news coverage with the vast majority of the stories being negative. And even though it would seem that our ability to view the totality of destruction and desolation on a daily basis would awaken us to our desperate need for rescue from our own depravity, it seems to hae instead polarized us to our condition.
And in the midst of a broken world God Himself steps in. Jesus was well aware of the problems of the world He walked in. Even more than others, He knew that the tragic reality was found in the purely symptomatic nature of the things most people thought were the problems. People thought oppression and brutality and idolatry and conquest was the problem, but Jesus knew that those were merely the symptoms of the wickedness of man’s hearts. He had a profound understanding of just how bad thins were globally, even universally.
And here is the difference: the more we see tragedy the calloused and cynical and dispassionate we become; the mor he saw and experienced it, he more tender and touched and compassionate He expressed it.
John and Jesus may have grown up together, but we don’t know that. They were born in different cities and their parents lived in different cities as best we can tell. The only interaction (after they were born) we see is at the Jordan River, at Jesus’ baptism. they were talked about in the same circles, hated by the same people, shared some of the same followers, and pursued different methods of ministry. But, despite their distance, despite their lack of interaction, despite knowing full well the evil in the world, despite not being immediately and personally touched by it, when John was executed Jesus didn’t “take it in stride”. he wanted to be alone, to talk to His Father, to come back to His “center”. Though all God, and sovereign, He was also all man and, though not in a crisis of faith, He knew that tragedy should always drive us back into the presence of God. When our mortality is highlighted in life, by whatever means, our destination for perspective and solidarity should always be immortal transcendence.
Jesus was in constant awareness of His own need for connection with the Father. And if Him, how much more we?