John 10:40-42. Tactical Retreat

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,  41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

The religious authorities have made several attempts to seize or stone Jesus (John 10:39, and previously John 7:30-32, 44-46, 8:59; 10:31). But Jesus has managed to slip away unharmed. Once again, now, Jesus makes a ‘tactical retreat’ to avoid arrest. This time going to a place considered ‘in the wilderness’, and yet it was known widely as the place John the Baptist baptised. Jesus’ disciples certainly fear arrest (see John 11:8) and were no doubt pleased for the safety of the wilderness and a positive reception from the locals.

Why this tactical retreat? What does Jesus achieve by delaying his inevitable confrontation with the religious elite of Jerusalem? The answer has to do with timing. Throughout Jesus’ ministry we read that his ‘hour’ has not yet come. When Jesus’ own brothers urged him to increase his profile in Jerusalem he said to them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do…” (John 7:6-8). Jesus is purposefully timing his final showdown in Jerusalem to coincide with the Passover festival. It is then that he will say that his ‘hour’ has come (John 12:23-28).

Lord Jesus, please grant to me an appreciation of your timing. When I want something immediately, grant me patience to wait for your timing. When I am stubborn or resistant to your prompting, grant me courage to embrace your timing. By your grace, enable me to know your timing, that I will know when to act and when to wait. Amen.