When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 14:13-14

What “had happened” was the martyrdom of John the Baptist, the cousin and forerunner of Christ.

The sordid details of his martyrdom are laid out in scripture. He had been bold to call Herod to moral behavior, rebuking him for living with Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Herod had John arrested and at a party Salome, the daughter of Herodias, danced for Herod and his guests. He promised her anything she wished for, and she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Because he had given his word before his guests he would not take it back, and john was beheaded. The mouth of this man of God that had proclaimed the truth, the eyes that bore the judgmental glare of God, and the face that had called people to hope and redemption was severed from his body and used as a mere party favor by the world.

This is the world, and the event reminded Christ of the purpose of His coming, and the ultimate outcome of His own life. I tend to think that He also saw in that moment the sufferings of the Christian martyrs through the centuries. But the lostness of the world is also seen in this act, the world He came to save and sends us out to love. So He withdrew or tried to, but the crowds followed.

What Christ did next revealed His heart. He was not given to self-pity, and would not allow a drop of it in His soul. He had come to do the will of God. He had compassion on the sick and healed them.

There is something here for us, an example to follow. Let the love of Christ fill your heart to the point that when the world hurts us, we simply reach out to those who need love, whom we can help. The world has its time right now, but that day will soon pass and all that will remain will be the truth and love of God. Let us, like Jesus, be people of the light, that help others even when we are feeling the rejection of the world.

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