Luke 9: 10 “When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida”
Yesterday a church in the UK announced that a married missionary couple would be returning from the mission field after serving for 8 years, to join the leadership team.
Like me, you may have seen many missionaries return home who have been serving God for 1 year to many years. Returning home can be as much a culture shock as going in the first place.
These missionaries need help to get re-established, they have often given up their homes and household items, they don’t have surplus money and it is not easy commencing a new chapter back ‘home’.
Then there is the much needed de-brief as they process just exactly what they have achieved and what went wrong and how they handled things. Looking at how missionary work changed their lives and looking ahead to what God has in store.
The Twelve apostles hadn’t been overseas for 8 years, maybe they were in the region for a week or so but nevertheless they had lots of stories to tell Jesus. They couldn’t wait to tell him what they had achieved, the lives that were changed, the healings that had occurred through their ministry. The debrief was exciting. They had never done such things in their life. The Kingdom of God was indeed here. What they had seen Jesus do they were doing. The power and authority that He gave them was the same as what He had. There was much excitement!
Jesus then led the Twelve to Bethsaida. It was the home place of 3 of the disciples, Philip, Andrew and Peter. But it was to the desolated part of Bethsaida that they went to. To the place with little population.
They withdrew to be alone with Jesus.
Even though it was short-lived the principle is there. Time alone with Jesus after a season of activity in the Kingdom of God is what He wants.
No doubt along the way they were still sharing stories. Maybe there were some lessons to learn. But as they processed this there was the growing awareness that they were not just going to Bethsaida, they were actually back following Jesus. Their eyes were back on Him. Their ears open to what He had to say. What they had done was being replaced with who He is.
You may not have travelled as a missionary overseas. You may not even have returned from a miraculous week or so of itinerant ministry. But maybe you have come to the end of a chapter. Perhaps you are changing your job or moving house. Maybe you have gone through a busy season where you have given much to people in terms of your time and energy. What should you do? Just keep going? Somehow you need to replace what you have done with who He is. His identity needs to overwhelm your activity. Your ability to keep going is dependent on your decision to keep pursuing Jesus.