Not long ago, my pastor finished a sermon series on the Gospel of Luke. Throughout our two-year study, many of us in the congregation read Luke multiple times. It wasn’t until my last time through the book, though, that I found myself re-examining one story. Actually, a series of stories.
In Chapter Eight, Jesus and the disciples board a boat headed for the country of the Gerasenes. In the midst of a much-needed rest, Jesus is shaken awake by His followers, and calms a storm that has made them fear for their lives. The water once again tranquil, they eventually land, and immediately encounter a demon-possessed man. Jesus commands the demons to leave, but agrees to let them possess some nearby pigs…which, naturally, causes consternation amongst the locals. After instructing the newly-restored and grateful man to tell others what has happened, Jesus (at the request of the locals) departs.
Upon his return, Jesus meets an eager crowd and is petitioned to heal the ailing young daughter of a man named Jairus. On His way to do so, Jesus stops in the middle of a crowd to heal a woman suffering from chronic bleeding. After speaking with her, He proceeds to Jairus’ home, where the girl has already died and the household is weeping. Jesus soothes the mourners, then restores Jairus’ daughter to life.
These stories reveal a great deal about Jesus — about His power over nature, over evil, over sickness and even death. However, as I read Luke Eight this time around, a new thought struck me:
He must have been exhausted.
Amidst the messy, humdrum tasks of my own day-to-day life — homeschooling, cleaning up spills, breaking up fights, scrounging up ice packs for bumped heads — I sometimes wonder what it means for me, a stay-at-home mom, to follow in the footsteps of One who knew no sin, and who possessed infinite power. I wonder how I can present my life as a living sacrifice when I’m so worn out from the demands of motherhood that I hardly have time to pray. I wonder when I can take a break from this earthy stuff that consumes my time so I can truly serve the Lord.
It occurs to me now that, in some ways, Jesus’ daily life was not so different from mine.
When He accepted the limitations of human flesh, Jesus accepted the need for rest…and the Bible tells us that He often went off by Himself to pray. Sometimes, though, that “alone time” just didn’t happen. In the above account, people’s needs just kept piling up — overlapping, even — and, in addressing those needs, Jesus simply pushed through the exhaustion.
When the disciples roused Him from His well-deserved sleep, Jesus quelled their childlike fears. When a hurting woman detained Him on His way to somewhere else, He showed her compassion instead of treating her as an interruption. Although He craved time alone with His Father, Jesus instead ministered to His children.
It can be tempting to focus so much on Christ’s deity that we forget about His humanity. This imbalance, for me, can lead to a misguided conception of God as being “out there” — my Creator, and the reason for my ultimate hope, yes — but somehow distant from the realities right in front of me. Luke shows us, though — if we can open our eyes to see it — that Jesus knew those realities better than any of us.
I cannot calm storms, but I can soothe my children when their bad dreams disrupt my sleep. I cannot raise the dead, but I can clean scraped knees and bloody lips. I cannot save the world, but I can patiently and lovingly serve my family — even when I’m tired…or in the middle of something else…or yearning for spiritual refreshment.
When I do so, I am following in the footsteps of Jesus. And when I choose to be joyful instead of grudging, compassionate instead of irritable, I come closer and closer to being a reflection of Him.
What an amazing privilege: to walk as Jesus did, knowing that He understands what it means to serve others as we tread this tired earth together. As I cling more closely to this truth, my own burdens feel lighter…and my foolish feelings about Jesus being “out there” are replaced by the realization that, through every moment of the day, He is vibrantly, intimately present.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:15-16)