14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. 15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. 16 He warned them not to tell others about him.
This follows Jesus’ healing of the man with the withered hand —- on the Sabbath. The Pharisees now have what they need to go after Jesus and they begin to plot to kill him. And what does Jesus do? Does he boldly strike out to make a public stand against them? No. Does he take them on in the market square, daring them to try and limit his ministry? No. Does he rally the crowds, calling for faith and courage in the face of opposition and threat? No. What does Jesus do? He withdraws. He pulls back. And though he keeps meeting the needs of those who come to him (he healed all who were ill), he asks the people to keep quiet about it.
Seems to me friends, that in these Covid-19 days, the Church could learn a lot from Jesus’ choice to withdraw and do his work in less public ways. When Jesus learned about the plots of his enemies, he determined that the best action was to step back. He withdrew. He did NOT stop being the Messiah. He did NOT stop doing his work of preaching, teaching and healing. He did NOT close down the ministry. BUT he did withdraw. He did that ministry in a less public way. Sometimes that’s the right choice.
I believe the Church has been following in the footsteps of Jesus in these days of Covid-19. As the enemy plots to kill and destroy, the Church has withdrawn and is doing its work in different ways. The Church did NOT close. (only the campuses closed) The Church did NOT stop doing the work of ministry. But the Church did withdraw — like Jesus — for a season. Sometimes that’s the right choice.
Prayer: God of wisdom, we pray that all Church leaders might have the wisdom of Jesus, knowing when to withdraw and when to step forward. As decisions are made about in person gatherings on church campuses, we pray for those making those decisions. May they act in ways that are in keeping with your will and purpose for your people. Amen
Thought for the Day: Stepping back and stepping up can both be faithful responses.