Jesus, the mountain man
Friday, April 16, 1999
John 6:1-3, 15
"Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee, and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. ...
"Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself."
As I sit this morning and watch cars zoom past our house, the reality of this scene is hard to grasp. We go everywhere in cars, Jesus went everywhere on foot. And so the people followed him on foot. Because of this they were literally more in touch with each other and with him. They talked more with each other; a healing for one created both more jealousy and more joy in the others because they were in such close physical contact.
When Jesus needed to get away, he couldn't get into a limousine or jet and disappear. I imagine that he awoke very early in the morning and walked away under the cover of darkness. He went into the wilderness alone to avoid the crowd and their "crown." Elijah (in 1 Kings 19) heard the gentle whisper of God deep in the mountains; Jesus knew this story and was drawn into the mountains himself by the same Voice, to pray and listen, waiting for God's direction.
The wilderness draws me too, the mountains, desert, forest, ocean. These great expanses of earth so suddenly empty of others are places to thrill to the sound of silence, to gaze deeply into the huge wide sky, to listen farther and longer for God. These far-off places have always drawn me out of myself, my life too full of habits and fears, and I need to go there often, in my dreams, my imagination ... and on foot.
Even, I suppose, in my car.
Lord, let me close my eyes right now and be with you in the empty place.