But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:15-16 NASB
Early in Jesus’ ministry, around the time He called His disciples, He healed a leper. Whether it was the leper’s exuberance at being healed or Jesus’ knowledge too much exposure would be bad at that point, He ordered the leper to be quiet and simply let his priestly declaration and sacrificial acknowledgment be the testimony. Yet, word spread.
Did the leper disobey? Not necessarily.
Leprosy was an isolating disease. Even a hint of the disease disassociated persons from society. The person had to announce the affliction by shouting, “Unclean.” Someone reentering the community let alone entering the temple would be an anomaly if not impossible. Depending on who the leper was, seeing him walk freely–and quietly–through town would cause a stir.
If he obeyed, he did not take any credit for his condition. He simply told the truth.
Most likely, he spoke of a man who performed a miracle in his life. This man was just a town carpenter. Some servants at a wedding claimed He had something to do with changing water into wine. He associated with fishermen, and they had decided to leave that profession to follow Him. Apparently, they caught a net-full of fish in the middle of the day. He must have something to offer them if they would give up their livelihood to traipse from town to town. Maybe He had healed each of them of something. So, the crowds increased.
I hate crowds. I appreciate words of encouragement, but public acknowledgment? It gives me too much credit. I don’t deserve it. Like the leper, I’m just looking for healing from what isolates me from others.
Yet, like Jesus, I “often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” I understand why Jesus needed to get away to mounts, especially as the demands mounted. These are not always luscious mountain valleys like David’s pastures. They can be the parched deserts with dried up brooks of Elijah. I can experience them at my camper on a Minnesota lake shore or at my kitchen table. Sometimes a smile spreads across my face, and sometimes tears course down it. Either way, I experience peace alone with God.
If Jesus needed time alone with God in order to find peace, shouldn’t I need it all the more? Isn’t that when and where healing often begins?