11 Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. 12 When they were filled, He *said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.
I have always wondered why Jesus took so much effort to avoid the crowds. In one of my previous posts, Quit Arguing, I mentioned Jesus avoiding a confrontation that was pointless. Here we see He is avoiding the crowd for a different reason. Through previous bible study, I have learned that the political arena at that time was pretty competitive. The Jews were under Roman rule and they once again felt oppressed. They yearned for a king. Their assumption was that the Messiah they had hoped for would be a political king to regain control over Israel, by Israel, so that the Jews could go about living the way they wanted. This is why there was so much distaste for tax collectors: not just because they were seemingly turncoats in favor of the Roman government, but because they also represented Rome’s rule over the Jews. In verse 14, the Jews refer to “The Prophet,” which we read about way back in Deuteronomy 18, “ 15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from yourcountrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ 17 The LORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well. 18 I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.”
I find it ironic that the term “King of the Jews” was His final charge that would hang Him on the cross, even though He wasn’t the king they wanted Him to be. Let’s think about that for a moment. How often do we lose heart or faith in God because He doesn’t do what we want Him to? We thank Him for our blessings and answered prayers when they fall in line with what we want, yet we curse God and turn away when it doesn’t. I can imagine some of you thinking, “I would never and have never cursed God.” Really? Maybe you didn’t shake your fist to the sky screaming four letter words. I found an interesting definition of what a curse is: “a profane or obscene expression of anger, disgust, surprise, etc.; oath”. We might think the word “obscene” refers to the middle finger or the like. To God, obscene is merely when we turn our back on Him because we are dissatisfied with Him.
I heard on the radio the other day a discourse about God’s involvement in the political arena of America today. The preacher pointed out that God doesn’t choose political parties. This is evidenced in this passage since Jesus was avoiding being thrust into it and being made a worldly king, as the Jews would have it. Rather, the message I heard made a very good point: “It is not about God being on our side, but rather if we are on God’s side.” You see here, it wasn’t about Jesus doing what we wanted Him to do in order to appease our worldly desires, but rather it was about people following Him. He wasn’t following the Jews and their ideas, rather He walked away to see who would follow Him.
Are you following Jesus or are you pleading with Him to follow you?