Jesus Returns To The Wilderness
John 11:54-57 Therefore Jesus walked no more openly among the Jews; but He went away from there to a country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and continued there with His disciples. (55) And the Jews' Passover was near. And many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover in order to purify themselves. (56) Then they sought Jesus, and spoke with one another as they stood in the temple, What does it seem to you, that He will not at all come to the feast? (57) And all the chief priests and the Pharisees had given commands, that if anyone knew where He was, he should make it known so that they might seize Him.
Life has become increasingly dangerous for Jesus. The plot against Him is now systematic and widespread and involves the entire national leadership. They are focused on Him like laser beams and there is a price on His head.
“and the Pharisees had given commands, that if anyone knew where He was, he should make it known so that they might seize Him.”
Jesus does not dignify their rage with a single comment. He just goes elsewhere and continues with His ministry.
“He went away from there to a country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and continued there with His disciples.”
This is a principle I call “flowing around the obstructions”. Often we are obstructed in ministry, and we are tempted to explode in anger or make cutting comments. This is always unwise and often ungodly. Just leave the obstruction in place and flow around it like a creek flowing around a large rock.
Find your “Ephraim” – the place you can go when you cannot minister where you would most like to minister. There is a place hidden away in God that will gladly receive your gifts, it may seem “out of the way”. It may be “near the wilderness”. But it will be peaceful and fruitful.
Notice the word “continued” – “and continued there with His disciples.” Ephraim was not a silent period - it was a continuing in ministry, a valuable time of preparing His disciples prior to the traumatic Passover in Jerusalem.
When you head out to Ephraim you are being prepared for the next phase in your ministry, often much larger in scope. Ephraim is not the end; the obstruction to your ministry has not relegated you to obscurity, but to continuing ministry and preparation.
Jesus’ absence is noted. The rest of Israel is purifying them, but Jesus does not need that. He is pure, the One who sanctifies is Himself sanctified.
And the Jews' Passover was near. And many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover in order to purify themselves. Then they sought Jesus, and spoke with one another as they stood in the temple, What does it seem to you, that He will not at all come to the feast?
“They sought Jesus” – but to what end – to kill Him, to see more miracles, or to believe? Jesus was a “topic on conversation’ a subject of national interest, but little more than that for many. They were going on with their routines, doing what tradition demanded, and gossiping about the Messiah with little real intent to believe. This is the power of the routine and the familiar. Passover was familiar and it entrained the mind into a certain groove. They went on with their habitual behaviour and missed Christ – who is the True Passover. We can rush through our days and discuss God and theology as so much interesting gossip, but it has no real impact.
We need a faith that stops us in our tracks and takes over our life, a faith that commands our attention!