“The King’s Withdrawal”
Matthew 13:53-14:12

“So they were offended at Him.  But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.’”[Matthew 13:57]

This verse comes upon the heels of the Matthew 13 parables of the Kingdom.  Jesus “spoke to the multitudes in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them” [Matt 13:34].  This set the disciples apart.  After the fourth parable “Jesus sent the multitude away” but “His disciples came to Him saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.’” [Matt 13:36] This was the tipping point toward the Kingdom!  Kingdom priorities became more important than all others.  The disciples became concerned with the Kingdom of Heaven above miracles and anything else.

Jesus, however, would continue to minister to the multitude.  He sowed seed on all soils even though He knew only one would bear fruit [ref. 13:18-23], an interesting detail to ponder.  But this broughta distinct marker in Jesus’ ministry.  His enemies continued to try to destroy Him, the multitudes continuedto seek miracles, but His disciples began seeking the Kingdom.  Jesus startedto focus on the last because His disciples would be the ones to carry on the message and work of the Kingdom after He was gone.  Wiersbe commented:

“Chapters 14-20 I have called “The Retirement of the King.”  During the period of time recorded by Matthew in these chapters, Jesus often withdrew from the crowds and spent time alone with His disciples (see Matt. 14:13; 15:21, 29; 16:13; 17:1-8).  There were several reasons for these withdrawals; the growing hostility of His enemies, the need for physical rest, and the need to prepare His disciples for His future death on the cross.

However, we must not think that these withdrawals, or periods of retirement from crowds, were periods of inactivity.  Often the crowds followed Jesus and He was unable to remain alone.  He would unselfishly minister to their needs in spite of His own need for rest and solitude.  In Matthew 14-20, we will see these three groups of people:  Christ’s enemies, the needy multitudes, and the disciples.”

What is interesting to observe is that these are the same groups today.  Matthew 14 gives us insight into how Jesus interacted with them.  He dealt wisely with His enemies, knowing that the time and manner of His death must fulfill all Scripture; He tirelessly served the multitude, knowing they would bare little fruit; and He faithfully poured into His disciples from which would come a harvest.  This is the reality of Kingdom dynamics in this life of faith.

The certainty is that there are only so many hours in a day.  We must therefore be Spirit-filled judicious on who and how we invest energy, time, and resources.  There are times that we, too, need to withdraw, not only from our enemies but also the multitude, to focus on the ones that will further the Kingdom.