Not Deflected From His Purpose
It was an amazing miracle. Feeding 5,000 men, and many other women and children, had shown everybody that Jesus had supernatural power. Some of the Jewish people identified Him as the 'Prophet' who Moses spoke about (Deuteronomy 18:15-18). In other words, they recognised that Jesus was on a mission from God, to bring people back to honour God's covenant. But Jesus knew that their primary interest was not simply to listen to the Word of God: they wanted to make Him fulfil their ambitions, making Him their leader in a public uprising against the Roman occupiers.
Jesus refused to be knocked off course or flattered by popularity. It was true that Jesus was the King (John 18:37), but it was not part of God's purpose for Him to be a political revolutionary leader. The people wanted Jesus as a king who would give them freedom from the Romans. But Jesus' mission was to die as a sacrifice for the sins of everyone, freeing those who trust Him from the slavery of sin, so that He would be King over their hearts.
Jesus did not debate with these political opportunists; He simply withdrew through the crowd, became anonymous and went up the mountain to pray (Luke 5:16). It was the spiritual secret He also taught to the trainee apostles (Matthew 6:6) – a secret that we will do well to learn too.
Although power-agendas seem to be common in politics and business and even academic circles, Jesus does not operate like that and nor should His disciples (John 18:36). If people insist on distorting truth to suit themselves, then Jesus withdraws. He does not seek our vote or approval. He will not be manipulated; neither will He allow Himself to be used to fulfil our ambitions. When that happens, He withdraws. Instead, we ought to be asking, ‘What does Jesus want and how can we cooperate with Him?’
© Dr Paul Adams