“and after Jesus had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray” Matthew 14:23
This week the story we lean into is the story of Jesus walking on water. I’m excited to think about Peter’s faith and fear, but as I reread the story another detail caught my eye. The reason Jesus walked on water is because he had dismissed his disciples to get back on the boat without him. Jesus wanted to pray. In fact, the whole reason they were in the isolated place in the first place was because Jesus was trying to get away from the crowds so he could pray. But the 5,000 people followed him, so he fed them miraculously, but then when it was over, he dismissed everyone so he could pray. Why did Jesus want so badly to be alone and to pray? Because before all of this, before the walking on water, before the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus had just been told the news that John the Baptist had been killed by Herod. This is the detail that touches me. Jesus was holding this grief in his heart while he went about doing the work that God had called him to do. He was holding the knowledge that he might share John’s fate. Imagine all the thoughts and emotions Jesus was carrying. He didn’t bury it, but he bid his time until he could finally be alone and pray to his father. For all of us holding a grief, bearing a burden, biding our time, I pray we can find the space we need to unburden ourselves in prayer. If Jesus needed to be alone to pray, how much more do we need to do the same?