Becoming a disciple: The art of timing and retreat


Scripture – John 11:54

Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.


There are strategic times in life to withdraw from the public eye, to go somewhere where you are not known, to stay with a smaller group of friends or believers. Although the Jews were plotting to arrest Jesus, he could have still gone into Jerusalem and prevented anyone from taking him by force, but Jesus understood timing and he understood retreat. In what ways can I learn from Jesus the art of timing and of retreat? Many would have thought that being in Jerusalem during the few weeks before the passover, as the crowds began to pour in, getting ready for the feast, doing the ceremonial washings and such, would have been an important time for Jesus to be able to interface with the masses, do a little campaigning, give some public exposure to some of his line up of miracles. But no. He retreated to a little almost-in-the-desert village, Ephraim, that was so podunk that no-one thought to look for him there. He wasn’t concerned about doing all the things people expected of him, but stayed focused on what his father had asked him to do.


In ministry, there are so many times that our presence is somehow expected, that it can feel like a performance. Jesus was anti-performance. He understood the wisdom of retreat and the art of timing. I want to grasp to a greater degree this art of timing and the deep knowing of when I need to retreat from public. I need to discern when I need to do this alone and when I need to do this as part of a team.


Father, please teach me to only do what you ask me, as Jesus did. Let me not be swayed by what I think people expect of me, but rather keep me focused on doing only what you say. Give me wisdom so that I may understand the art of timing and of retreat. I pray you are pleased with my heart today. I so desperately want it bent around you. In need of your mercy and grace, I am grateful to be considered your son today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

modern day ephraim (called taybeh) is the only christian town in israel/palestine.



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