Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself.
In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, got in the boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned. A huge wind blew up, churning the sea. They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, but he reassured them, "It's me. It's all right. Don't be afraid." So they took him on board. In no time they reached land—the exact spot they were headed to.
The next day the crowd that was left behind realized that there had been only one boat, and that Jesus had not gotten into it with his disciples. They had seen them go off without him. By now boats from Tiberias had pulled up near where they had eaten the bread blessed by the Master. So when the crowd realized he was gone and wasn't coming back, they piled into the Tiberias boats and headed for Capernaum, looking for Jesus.
When they found him back across the sea, they said, "Rabbi, when did you get here?"
Jesus answered, "You've come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free.
Could you imagine a pastor in our day and age not accepting the adoring adulation of the crowds? Could you imagine a pastor not trying to sell his book from the pulpit on a Sunday morning? Could you imagine a pastor saying, “I don’t want power and fame.”
I can, because I know a lot of guys who aren’t in it for the fame and glory. Yet, I also know a lot of guys who are. They want the big church and the adoring crowds. They celebrate their huge Twitter following. What they want more than anything is to be the guy with the guy.
Ever since Billy Graham a lot of my colleagues have wanted to be Oval Office adjacent, so to speak.
Every time I read about Jesus walking away from the crowds I am amazed. To me, that’s the most amazing miracle in this story. The willingness that Jesus has to say, “No.” To the crowds leaves me astonished.
I often wonder what I would do in that circumstance. Would I be willing to walk away? I don’t know. I really hope that I would. Yet, here I am writing a public daily devotional and everyday I check my numbers hoping that they grow. Perhaps, in my heart of hearts I’m too desiring of the adoring fans and the crowds. If I’m honest, I really am.
There’s something in me that wants to have the crowd, the checkmark next to my name, the big book deal, the leading name on the conference.
So, when I read about Jesus just walking away it leaves me gaping and in wonderment.
Could you just walk away?
We live in a culture where fame and glory are our addictions. They are the pinnacle. We curate everything we do in public. There is nothing that we don’t edit. Why? For the sake of our image with the hopes of becoming “famous.”
Yet, we look at Jesus and he just, walks away.
Because he knows the crowds are only in it for themselves. They don’t see "God in his actions,” they only see what they can get from him. They want their bellies satisfied.
That’s the thing we miss in our quests for fame and adoration. We don’t realize that it’s not us they want, it’s what we can give.
Jesus knew this.
He wanted people to want him for who he was not for what he offered them.
Could you or I just walk away?
It’s a miracle that he could.