I was stopped in my tracks today while reading Luke 5. I couldn’t help but notice how popular Jesus was getting as He traveled around ministering to people throughout Israel. In fact, the chapter starts with this description:
…while the crowd was pressing in on [Jesus] to hear the word of God… (Luke 5:1, ESV)
This is not the part that stopped me in my tracks. I kept reading. I quickly came upon this phrase, as well:
…even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. (Luke 5:15, ESV)
Again, this was not the phrase that stopped me in my tracks. It was the next verse that caused me to pause:
But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luke 5:16, ESV)
Just let that sink in for a moment.
Jesus was incredibly popular. He was incredibly busy. He was sought after. The crowds were pressing in on Him to hear Jesus talk about God. He was actually growing in popularity and the crowds were getting bigger and bigger. In the midst of all of this busyness and “success”, Jesus modeled a priority for us that we would be foolish to neglect.
He withdrew to desolate places to pray.
I don’t know about you, but I have the unhealthy tendency of packing my calendar… probably a little too full. It seems to me that Jesus had a pretty packed schedule, as well, but it was NEVER too full for Him to withdraw to desolate places to pray. That time spent with the Father was what carried Him through the difficult moments. It was where He received His guidance and solidified His identity.
Like Jesus, we are never too busy to prioritize connecting with the Father in desolate places. I don’t care how “popular” or “important” we think we are -the truth is that we are nothing apart from God.
I have noticed that so many of my blog entries during this 44 Days Through the New Testament come from the very first chapter in each set of 3. I gave myself a personal challenge to NOT choose anything from Luke 8 to write about today.
I have officially failed my own challenge. Haha. I just can’t not write about what I noticed in Luke 8!
I am so thankful that we have 4 different gospel accounts in the Biblical canon. By the time that we get to Luke 8, we have already heard about Jairus and his daughter in both Matthew and Mark, but the story shows up again here in Luke.
Here is the account from Matthew:
…a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” (Matthew 9:18, ESV)
We know from the context of the story, as well as from the second part of the story (the woman who was healed from bleeding) that the “rule” mentioned in Matthew 9 is, in fact, Jairus. His name is provided for us by Mark:
Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” (Mark 5:22–23, ESV)
It is interesting that in the gospel of Matthew, Jairus claims that his daughter has just died, but in the gospel of Mark, Jairus says she is at the point of death. I don’t think there is a discrepancy here. In fact, just a few verses later in the gospel of Mark, we read that someone actually came from the house of Jairus to inform him that his daughter had just died. At that that point, Jesus overhears the conversation and encourages Jairus to believe that she can yet be healed. It is not unreasonable for us to believe that after Jesus issued this challenge to Jairus, he responded as Matthew tells us by saying in faith, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.”
And then we hear from Luke, who gives us two interesting pieces of information that did not previously know from Matthew and Mark’s account:
And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying… (Luke 8:41–42, ESV)
We knew from Mark’s gospel that Jairus had a “little” daughter. Now we know that she is twelve years old. We also know that she is Jairus’ “only” daughter.
For some reason this struck me tonight as I was reading through the gospel of Luke. It is tempting for me, especially in the midst of an exercise like this (reading so quickly through the New Testament) to begin to feel like I am reading the same thing over and over. But that’s not really the right attitude. There really are subtle nuances and differences within the four gospels that give us a much fuller picture. Tonight I was thankful in a fresh way for God’s goodness in giving us all four gospels.