Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Matthew 14 : 22 – 24
This passage contains one of several moments where we’re told Jesus withdrew from the crowds and sent his disciples away so that he could be alone to pray. Often this is interpreted as Jesus needing time to rest and recuperate. It makes sense, he had after all been preaching to thousands of people all day, it could well be that he was exhausted and needed a chance to rest.
But I wonder is there is another reason. Jesus had just performed an amazing miracle in front of thousands of spectators hanging on his every word. Imagine what an adrenalin rush that would have been, imagine how important and powerful you would feel? He may well have been tired but I would also bet Jesus was riding an incredible high, and who wouldn’t be after such spectacular event. But highs bring their own risks. They can feed our egos, encourage us to chase the next high and too much time in that space leads to burnout.
So I wonder if Jesus going to pray on his own wasn’t simply about having a rest, but about recentring himself after that experience. Jesus mission wasn’t about his ego but about his relationship with God, so after a big spectacle he removed himself from the adoring crowds and from his devoted followers and chose to pray on his own. Instead of getting carried away with an emotional high, Jesus grounded himself in what mattered most. And that is good advice for all of us. We should be wary of chasing the high and remember to always take time away from the hype to ground ourselves in what matters most.
Prayer: God my rock, keep me rooted in what matters most. In times of hype and great excitement, help me to stay humble and grounded. Help me to resist the temptation to make it all about me, and instead celebrate working alongside others.
Act: Take at least a minute today to pray on your own and ground yourself. Practice it now so that when things are busy you’ll know how to stay rooted in God.