Jesus Rejects the Idea of a Political Messiah

Matthew 14:22-23; Mark 6:45-46; John 6:14-15

DIG: Why did the people think that Jesus was the Prophet of Deuteronomy 18? As a result, what were their plans? Why was that, in reality, impossible? How do we see Yeshua in His humanity here? How did the Serpent tempt the Lord after the miracle? Why did the Lord refuse their offer? When would Yeshua be taken up to heaven?

REFLECT: If Christ often needed a spiritual and a physical break, don’t you need the same thing? Where do you go to get alone with God? Do you want to make Jesus King of your life on His terms, or your terms?

After the people saw the miracle Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Immediately Yeshua made the apostles get into the boat at Bethsaida Julius and go ahead of Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee to Gennesaret (see Fq - Jesus' Reception at Gennesaret). Knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, Jesus dismissed the crowd and withdrew. He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. Later that night He was there alone (Mattityahu 14:22-23; Mark 6:45-46; Yochanan 6:14-15).

As soon as the five thousand men, along with the women and children, had been fed and twelve baskets of leftovers picked up, the people said: Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world. The prophet they were speaking of is the one from Deuteronomy of 18:15 and 18. Moses predicts that a prophet like Him would arise and the people would listen to Him. The Jews in Galilee looked to Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecy and the establishment of the messianic Kingdom. After His ascension, Peter in Acts 3 and Stephen in Act 7 referred to Yeshua ha-Mashiach as the fulfillment of this prophecy.

Messiah knew that the large crowd had an irresistible urge to come and make Him king in their own way and for their own purposes, by force if necessary. If Jesus had succumbed to their wishes, the Romans would have surely quelled the rebellion and crucified Jesus for sedition. But the Lord had His own timing and His own purposes for His death. He would die in Jerusalem, not Galilee. And He would be in total control: The reason my Father loves Me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father (John 10:17-18).

The fact that Yeshua made His talmidim get into the boat, strongly suggests they were reluctant to leave Him and perhaps argued with Him about it. But He was obviously persuasive enough with them and they obeyed. He did not want His talmidim to be infected and caught up in any nationalistic outburst. He could see it coming and Galilee was the hotbed of revolution. So Jesus told them to go on ahead of Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee to Bethsaida while He dismissed the crowd. It was a short trip across the northern tip of the Lake, one that the apostles had made many times.

Without fight or fanfare, the Messiah simply dismissed the crowd, and they bedded down for the night wherever they could near Bethsaida Julias, a few miles inland from the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was now easier to dispatch the multitudes than it would have been with the apostles present. It was a sad fact that the Twelve had not yet come to a clearer view of the true character of the Messiah and His Kingdom.

After He had dismissed them He withdrew, and went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. Later that night, He was there alone still communicating with His heavenly Father. Christ is clearly the Son of God, but just as clearly the Son of Man. In fact, the revelation of both His divine nature and His human nature are often seen side-by-side as we see here. At one point, we see Him multiplying the loaves with His messianic powers. Yet, immediately afterwards, we find the same Messiah retreating to a solitary place for personal prayer and, no doubt, to get a break from the crowds.

There, Yeshua would find strength in communion with the Father to stem the tide of temptation, and quench the flame of revolutionary popularity that had flared up, when He would be in the midst of the people again the next day. The crisis was building. The rest of His road would be thorny indeed, as He would suffer the alienation of the crowds and hear the voices of praise turn to disappointment and bitterness against Him.

Jesus’ temptations neither began nor ended with the three in the wilderness immediately after His baptism (see Bj – Jesus is Tempted in the Wilderness). At the end of that time, the ancient Serpent only departed from Him until a more opportune time (Luke 4:13 NASB). The enthusiasm of the crowds and the apostles to make Him king was very much like the third temptation in the wilderness, in which, the Adversary offered Yeshua all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor (Matthew 4:8). It’s as if the devil may have asked, “What better time to establish Your Kingdom than the Passover season with all Your enthusiastic supporters? But at the God-given time for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus would resolutely set out for Yerushalayim (Luke 9:51).

Night fell upon the scene of the solitary figure on the mountainside alone in prayer. It was a stormy night on the sea below Messiah, on which somewhere His talmidim were struggling at the oars and sails with raging waves. But nothing compared to the elements that raged within His soul as He thought of the death of John the Baptizer and His own approaching day of final bitter struggle bringing His own death on the cross.798


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