Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Matthew 14: Second Wind

"When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them..." - Matthew 14: 13-14 (NIV)

I think if I withdrew privately - only to be met by a large crowd - compassion is the last response I would have.  I would probably get back in my boat and row somewhere else!  I've always wondered, how did Jesus do it?  And if we're supposed to be like him, how do we do it?

It makes me think about singing, probably because I do sing but specifically in regards to this story.  When you take a breath, you take in more air than you think.  In fact, when you think your lungs are empty, they're not!  Try it - take a deep breath and then exhale it completely.  Before taking another breath, sing a few bars of your favourite song.  Surprised?  That's because there's always a certain amount of air - called residual or reserve air - left in your lungs.

Or take marathon runners.  They often reach a "wall" in their running and then speak of getting a second wind - a renewed energy to continue running when they thought they had nothing left.

I wonder if it's like that in Jesus' case as well - if he got a "second wind" of being able to cope with the demands of the public, a renewed energy to care about people when he just wanted to be alone, and a "reserve compassion" when he thought he was empty?

Pause.  Take a deep breath.  Let it all out.  Guess what?  Your lungs are still quite full. 



Elisabeth said...

This. Is. AWESOME.

Jeff said...

John 5:19 records Jesus informing that he can do nothing apart from the Father. Matthew 4:11 records angels ministering to Jesus after having been tempted by Satan. John 14:15-31 records Jesus informing his disciples of the Holy Spirit, who is a helper, advocate, and counselor. Paul writes in Philippians 4:11-13 that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him, having learned the secret of having faced plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

Scripture informs that Jesus became fully human, while also being fully God; so though while he learned obedience through that which he suffered (being fully human), both his human and spiritual nature relied upon God the Father. Jesus was able to do what no human apart from God, could do; and because of Jesus, we who receive him have the Holy Spirit who can enable us to do all things through him who gives us strength. This was perfectly lived out through Jesus, imperfectly though made perfect lived out through the life of Paul.

Now, we can most certainly explore the finite capacity of our human abilities - training our body to endure fatigue, conditioning our mind to handle circumstance in one manner or another. A second or even third "wind" may be experienced through happenstance, but it will not likely be used effectively if it is not familiar and expected.

Recognizing this finite capacity apart from God; I know that the world will require my flesh and that I will at some point fail. However, because of the hope given me in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, the second wind that I seek is not human in nature, even though my human nature relies on it.

Jesus's lungs were no doubt full, as you beautifully describe in your exploration, Anna. I wonder if he privately wondered at the capacity of his earthly body. More so, I wonder what it was like for him to hit "the wall", having known the infinite capacity of his spiritual being.

Fortunately, we know by the example of scripture having been lived throughout history, that by the love of God we can indeed live out all things through Christ who strengthens us, and enjoy the benefit of a second wind, a grace in and of itself.

You'd posited the question; "And if we're supposed to be like him, how do we do it?"

I offer that he knew well the finite capacity of his earthly existence, and that he lived out grace, mercy and compassion through the empowering of his Father and the Holy Spirit.

So if Jesus relied upon the Father and the Holy Spirit, and he did nothing apart from the Father and the Holy Spirit who bears witness; I would offer that this is exactly how we would have compassion in such circumstance, whether or not are on "reserve".