As I posted on my Facebook page last week about “the disappearing Act” I kept thinking that it made a lot of sense. I didn’t think that it necessarily made sense because I wrote it, but because disappearing, a.k.a. retreating, is exactly what Jesus did. Disappearing, then, when done in the right way (by disappearing into His love) is actually a very healthy habit, one we learn from Jesus himself.
“Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.” – Matthew 14:22-23. Maybe it is the introvert in me, but I rejoice when I see Jesus needing some “me” time. He needed time away from the crowds, away from even His disciples, so that He could be filled with Love. Jesus disappeared, He retreated and took time to be refreshed and renewed in the Father’s love. It is fitting, then, that after He retreats, something miraculous happens. Immediately after the above passage, we read about Jesus walking on the water and inviting Peter to do the same. Good things happen after we retreat. We can’t give what we don’t have, and it is in retreating/disappearing that we are filled by Him.
I thought about this characteristic of Jesus and realized that Mark’s Gospel account is actually full of stories in which Jesus retreated, disappeared, or was led away from the crowds. Why was Mark so focused on this habit of Jesus? Because we should be too. In Mark 1:12-13 we read, “At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” The Spirit led Jesus to the desert, and not to an overnight silent retreat, but for 40 days. He was tempted, and yet we read that the angels ministered to Him. We will be drawn into the desert. We will want to disappear. But that clearly doesn’t mean that we will be freed from temptation, but it also doesn’t mean we will be left without hope. After Jesus’ temptation in the desert He begins His public ministry – another miraculous effort. Jesus disappears, God’s love is poured out, and miracles happen. In Mark’s Gospel, following Jesus’ temptation we read about the call of the first disciples, then the curing of a demoniac, the curing of Simon’s mother-in-law, and even more healings. Good things happen when we disappear into His love.
Finally, nearing the end of His earthly life, Jesus retreats one last time, this time, to the Garden of Gethsemane. He took with Him Peter, James, and John (Mark 14:33). He advanced a little ways from them and then fell to the ground and prayed (Mk 14:35). In this final retreat, this final living disappearing act, Jesus was prepared by God for the ultimate Sacrifice. Good things happen when we disappear into His love.
Do you see it? When we disappear into His loving arms we are refreshed and renewed, but also prepared to be sent back out into the world to do good and wonderful – even miraculous things – in His name.
Then came the ultimate disappearing act of Jesus: His death and burial. He was gone. Dead. Lost forever. Swallowed up by the grave. Sin and death seemed to have won. Seemed to have won. Jesus disappeared for three days. We doubted. We feared. We hid in the Upper Room. We denied Him. (I say “we” here because I doubt that we would have acted any differently.) Then He came back. He disappeared into the Father’s love and out of that disappearance came the greatest good we have ever known (and will ever know): The Resurrection. Jesus came back. He didn’t just disapppear and say that was it, He came back, conquered sin and death and invites us to do the same. He then invites us to the best disappearing act ever: the one where we will disappear from this life, only to reappear in eternity. Are you ready to disappear into eternity when He calls?
Other passages to consider: Mark 1:35, Mark 1:45b, Mark 3:13, Mark 6:30-32, Mark 6:45-46, Mark 9:2-3, Mark 14:32-42.
What I’m Listening To:
“Keep On” by Eric Church
“Begin Again” by Taylor Swift
“Sittin’ Pretty” by Dustin Lynch
“Bluebird” by Sara Bareilles