John 11:54-57. Retreat

John 11:54    Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. 

55    When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover.  56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?”  57 But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him. 

Jesus is now a wanted man. The meeting of the Sanhedrin has decided that he should be killed. They concluded that it would be ‘better’ for one man (Jesus) to die than for the whole nation to be decimated by the Romans and the temple lost because of the religious movement that is developing around Jesus. Anyone who discovers Jesus’ location must report it. Merely listening to Jesus is no longer ‘safe’. He must be reported.

As a result, Jesus is a fugitive. He hides out in a small village on the edge of nowhere.

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem many are gathering for their ritual purification before the feast of the Passover. Eyes are darting here and there. Where is Jesus? Will he come?

We might wonder what Jesus is thinking at this point. He is not running and hiding for fear of arrest. Instead, he is waiting for the fulness of time. The right moment. His hour. This time of ‘retreat’ in Ephraim is doubtless a time of preparation: prayer, teaching, reflection, making plans. This kind of retreat paves the way for great progress.

In our busy 21st Century world we rarely ‘retreat’ in order to ‘progress’. Putting time aside to reflect, to pray, to commune with God, to focus and refine our thinking so that we are single-minded for the right thing; this kind of unhurried ‘retreat’ is uncommon. And yet it seems embedded in Jesus’ way. What is so important in your life that you ought to ‘retreat’ in preparation for it?

Dear God and Father. So much of my life seems hurried and opportunistic. Thank you that Jesus shows me a life of intentional discipline, of waiting on your timing, of prayerful preparation. Please grant that I would learn from his example. Amen.