By Pete Briscoe and Patricia Hickman
Jesus had numerous sabbaticals. He went away to be reenergized through prayer, quiet meditation, and to spend personal time with close friends. Jesus, like many of us, was either unable or unwilling to spend large amounts of time away from His responsibilities. So He maintained a wise rhythm in the midst of His ministry life. In addition to His custom of taking the weekly Sabbath - “He went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day He went into the synagogue, as was His custom” (Lk. 4:16) - Jesus incorporated other forms of time off into His life as well.
We see evidence of time off after a period of victory.
After the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, “immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone” (Matt.14:22-23).
We see Jesus taking time off before making major decisions.
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, He called His disciples to Him.and chose twelve of them, whom He also designated apostles” (Lk. 6:12-13). The choice of the disciples was most likely not an easy task. Before making the decision, He prayed all night long.
He also took time off after a heavy period of ministry.
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, ‘Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place” (Mk. 6:30-32).
Jesus took time off when He’d had enough of people.
“Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet He could not keep His presence secret” (Mk. 7:24). Jesus wearied of constant people-contact just as we do. Even those of us who are off-the-chart extroverts have our people limits. So He hid away at a friend’s house in hopes of finding seclusion. By taking a people break, we give our bodies time to refuel so that when our lives integrate once more with others,’ we will be sincere and productive.
Jesus also took time off when He faced an intimidating task.
When He arrived on the Mount of Olives the night of His betrayal, “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed” (Lk. 22:41). Jesus was human - terrified of the cross, the pain, and the humiliation - but He knew He had to do it. So what did He do? He went off alone to pray.
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