Withdraw-there is something sad about that word. Armies withdraw troops, losing ground to their enemy. Politicians withdraw from a race, experiencing unmet expectations of what could be in their city, state or county. Families withdraw funds to pay for broken cars, homes or bones; making life a bit more insecure with less funds available for other needs.
The word withdraw connotates unmet expectations, unfulfilled dreams, hopes and expectations that are left empty and to some point, simply broken. So when we see this word attached to the Savior of the world, it is extremely sad.
John 6:15 says "Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself."
What is the context? Jesus had just finished showing His disciples and rag-tag followers that He indeed had the resources to supply the provision for daily sustenance. Jesus fed 5,000 men (this is not including the women and children) with only 5 small barley loaves and two little fish. Through this demonstration of His ability to rely upon God's ability to provide in the middle of the need, the people surrounding Jesus recognized His potential as their long awaited king.
However, this motley mob's agenda for Jesus was different that Jesus' agenda for Himself. Through John's testimony, the people were attempting to seize Jesus and force Him to be a king he never intended on being. They were going to force His kingdom to come through the sword instead of the cross and the agency of the Holy Spirit.
So how did Jesus respond? He withdrew Himself from the people who were trying to coronate Him. Jesus left His followers and went alone to the mountain. It is as if Jesus was pressing reset on His kingdom mission.
Oh Jesus would reengage the disciples. He would continue His teaching for what the kingdom of God could and would look like. But he needed to withdraw and allow everyone to take a breath.
Here is how this event interacts with us. Could we be so focused on our agenda for Jesus, to do something in His name, that we miss out on His agenda? Could our activity get to such a frantic pace that the only choice that Jesus has is to withdraw for a time in our lives, in our families, in our church?
What are the warning signs? How would we know when this has happened? How would our welfare be impacted?
All of these questions are very important and need to be thought through. One fact remains, that despite Jesus withdrawing we know that He still has His eye on us in the storm. After Jesus withdrew, the disciples continued on in life by getting in a boat to go to another part of the lake. They encounter a life-threatening storm that was sure to destroy their boat. In the midst of this storm, Jesus comes to them to show His ability to protect and deal with life's storms.
So even when Jesus withdraws He is but a prayer away, a moment away from showing Himself. This gives us hope. Take hope in this truth, even while wrestling over the signs and reasons for a withdrawing.