The terrible news spread like wildfire. John the Baptist was dead. Murdered. A shining light had been violently snuffed out, leaving many people without a teacher. The crowd didn’t know what to do, but they knew who to turn to. If only they could find him.
Just days before, the disciples of Jesus had returned from their very first mission trip. They were excited by all that God had done through them. But they were tired from many days on the road and were ready for a well earned rest. Jesus knew this, so he invited them to join him on a retreat.
The plan was to sail to a quiet part of the lake, a nice beach perhaps, to retreat and spend some time sharing about their recent experiences. No doubt, he wanted to pray with them, encourage them and unpack the lessons they had learned while on mission.
But the crowd had other plans. Somehow, they had worked out where Jesus was headed, so they ran ahead by land to get there before him. As Jesus stepped off the boat and saw the people running toward him, he likened them to “sheep without a shepherd”.
So, even though he himself was grieving the loss of his cousin and friend, he was overcome with a deep sense of compassion for these helpless people.
The team debrief would have to wait.