Text: Mark 6:30-46
“So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”
“After leaving them, He went up on a mountainside to pray.” Mark 6:32, 46
Dr. Elaine Aron, clinical research psychologist and author, has done extensive studies of a portion of the population she calls HSP’s or Highly Sensitive Persons. One tendency of an HSP is that they need to withdraw during busy and chaotic times to a private, quiet place.
There are six times in the Bible when Jesus chose solitude over people, withdrawing to lonely places. Luke 4:1-2, 14-14; Mark 6:30-32; Matthew 14:1-3; Luke 6:12-13; Luke 22:39-44 and Luke 5:16. Personally, I think of Jesus as a highly sensitive person.
When Jesus wanted solitude, He selected places that are stark representations of the splendor of His Father’s creation. He chose the solitude and sereneness of water, the barren wilderness, the majestic mountains and a garden in Gethsemane. These seem like ideal environments to inspire introspection and meditation on life itself.
Many of us reside in places of deep solitude. For some, dwelling there can be inspirational and soul soothing. For others, it is a virtual prison of isolation, loneliness and alienation. Unfortunately, feelings such as these have the tendency to intensify and prompt individuals to embrace a more hermit-like existence far from the maddening crowd.
I think that’s why Jesus surrounded himself with a circle of close friends. Together, they lived in community and fellowship with God and one another. Faithful and trustworthy friends can be antidotes to sensitivities and solitude. They know exactly what to do to lure us out of hiding. They know precisely what to say to ease the pain. Sometimes it’s because of what they say, other times it’s because of what they don’t say – they listen.
It’s worthwhile mentioning that Dr. Aron’s research revealed highly sensitive people have more empathy and feel more concern for the problems of others. Jesus did. In one instance when He returned from a solitary place, he saw a large crowd and had compassion on them. (Matthew 14:14)
The events that follow on the heels of this scene, sound overwhelming and chaotic to me. Jesus loses his close friend, John the Baptist. He tries to get some ‘alone’ time, but throngs of people are in dogged pursuit of Him. He showers compassion on them, heals their sick and serves up dinner to over 5,000 people. Mark says that after this, Jesus immediately (6:46) sent the disciples away and retreated to a mountainside by himself to pray. Again.
But Jesus’ mission here on earth was to walk among the crowds, heal the sick and withstand the caustic barbs tossed at him by the Pharisees and Sadducees. He could not run away. He could not hide.
There is no destination on earth that will ever completely shield you from life’s stressors and the pressures of living in this world. The only destination where peace and harmony abound is where Jesus is right now: Heaven.
Heavenly Father, In the still of the night, I hope and pray to keep Your precious love. Before the light, hold me again, with all of Your might in the still of the night. – Amen.
~ Chris Wethman
Lay Minister of Administration