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Weekly Devotion – John 10:40

By Mike Caton

John 10:40, “Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed.”

Bethany across the Jordan was where John the Baptist had been in the early days. This is not the Bethany where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived, that one was much closer to Jerusalem, just a couple of miles, and was more like a bedroom community for the big city. Bethany across the Jordan was farther away, about 20 miles. (Remember this as we begin chapter 11 soon.) John had used this place for many of his baptisms, and in fact, Jesus himself was baptized here. Jesus seemed to want to put some distance between himself and the city at this time.

Jesus could have many reasons for his departure here. Obviously, the Jewish leaders are not happy with him. But Jesus does not fear them, they had threatened to stone him here and at least once before, and Jesus escaped their grasp. Jesus knows the Father is ultimately in control, and he knows that it is not the right time for his death. His retreat is not because he is afraid, but there is no need to antagonize his enemies, either. Maybe Jesus is simply letting things cool off a little. Maybe Jesus wants some time to himself and the disciples. He often did this very thing; slipping off alone to pray, taking his disciples aside to teach them privately, or to simply get a little rest. No doubt this had been a stressful time, and everyone needed a break.

Jesus shows us several things here. One, not to back down from a confrontation, but to realize there is a time to let things drop. Jesus would, and often did, go toe to toe with the religious leaders. But he also knew there was a time to slip away. Sometimes continuing the discussion will only make things worse. And there is nothing wrong with taking a step back, a deep breath, and looking at things in a different light. Also, we all need time to rest and recharge. We need time away, time alone, time with our closest friends, and we don’t need to be ashamed to take it. Real wisdom tells us when it is time to hang in there, and when it is time to back away. That is something we all need to work on, no doubt.

Father, help me know when to charge in and when to fall back. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Mike Caton is the preacher at Mount Olive Church of Christ in Belhaven. He volunteers at the Ponzer Fire Department and works part time with Hyde County EMS. If you would like to receive daily devotions in your inbox, email mikecaton@centurylink.net.

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