Jesus took his disciples and retreated to the sea, and people from all over the place who had heard what he was up to followed in droves, from Judea and Jerusalem (south), from Idumea (west), from the other side of Jordan River (east), and from all around Tyre and Sidon (north) . The crowd pressed in upon him so that Jesus told his disciples to get a boat ready. He had healed many, and everyone who was ill was trying to touch him. And whenever spirits of ill saw him they fell, screaming, “You are the son of God.” But he forbid them to tell who he really was.
This was not a retreat in the sense of a vacation getaway or a spiritual renewal or an extended board-room brainstorming meeting.
Jesus was retreating because the church people back in town had started plotting to kill him. The church people. Because he insisted that doing good was more important than being religious.
Neither was it a break from the work Jesus was doing. In spite of having a warrant out for his arrest, people were coming from every direction. Because he was doing something worth going out of their way for. Something they couldn’t get from their usual “service providers.”
- You can’t be extraordinary at anything without offending people who insist that the ordinary way is the only way. And
- If you really are extraordinary at what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter to the people you are helping what the “experts” say about you.
[Bonus: Son of God was a title reserved for the Roman emperor. Two things are going on here:
- The spirits of ill are trying to name Jesus, which in the mythological framework of demonology would give them power over him. We do the same thing when we think we can treat a disease if only it can be diagnosed (given a name). But, Son of God is an incorrect name – it doesn’t render Jesus powerless and Jesus forbids them tell who he really is.
- We are getting a preview of what Jesus’ opponents – who are spirits of ill – will accuse him of to bring him down. Crucifixion was a sentence reserved for non-citizens convicted of treason against the Roman emperor.]