“Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.”
“Two steps forward and one step back,” we say, often out of frustration even disgust. But the truth is, backward is the way forward. We have to go down to go up. Death is the way to life.
That’s the message of the cross of Jesus. It’s also how Jesus’ ministry started. With a big step backward. Jesus withdrew. He backed up, slowed down, disengaged.
You’d think we would get the message since it’s plain to see in the gospel, from beginning to end. But we remain people of endless progress, perpetual growth. We demand it from our economy, our children, even ourselves. We can be quite disoriented, shocked, and unkind when life doesn’t play along.
And yet, even there in this step backward, God does God’s best work within and through us. One step backward and two steps forward is God’s rhythm of salvation. It’s heaven’s dance step. And when Jesus says, “Follow me,” he means to lead us deep into darkness on the way to great light.
Suffering is just part of the deal. And Jesus, by his own suffering, reveals what we could never see on our own. There is nothing inherently good about suffering and death. But God made even them dance to heaven’s music of healing, grace, and life.
Withdraw now with Jesus. Ask Jesus for help trusting the backward steps. Remember what steps forward were made possible by the backward steps in your life.
Saint Paul Lutheran Church
715 South Third Street
Clinton, IA 52732
(at the foot of the south bridge)