Matthew 14:10, 12 “And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison … And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.”
The violent way John was killed only added insult to the injury that Jesus and his disciples felt in losing him. Yet, there is a common thread of loneliness, emptiness and pain that those of us experiencing the loss must cope with whether our loved one experience a violent death or a peaceful transition.
As an initial matter, this author recognizes that a column cannot lay out words that will move a hurting soul from misery to joy. If you are experiencing the type of grief that has immobilized you from being able to get through your day or grief that has become a frequent distraction, please seek out your faith leader to either provide professional, Christian counseling or refer you to someone who can.
Yet, it is worth lifting a few thoughts from this text as helpful in the midst of the loss of a loved one. One, the text states that “the disciples came.” The plural “disciples” means that they came together. No one was left alone to retrieve the body of John the Baptist. Often times, we forget how cathartic just the mere presence of a family member or friend can be. As a pastor, I have sometimes fumbled my words in a poor attempt to comfort a grieving family. What I have learned is my presence far outdistances my words.
Secondly, the text noted that the disciples “took up the body, and buried it.” This shows us that as they grieved they continued moving. You should cry and mourn because you have experienced a great loss – but you have to keep moving. The body of John had to be retrieved. Arrangements needed to be made. Your children still need you to kiss and hug them before they go to school. Your wife still needs you to hold her hand. Your husband still longs for your embrace. This does not mean you do not take some time for yourself. This means that you do not give up on the life and plans that God still has for you (Jeremiah 29:11).
Finally, the text states that the disciples “went and told Jesus.” Inasmuch as our Lord was able to bear the world’s sins, he is more than capable of taking on our cares. The hymnist was right, “O what peace we often forfeit / O what needless pain we bear / All because we do not carry / Everything to God in prayer.”
Andrae P. Crismon Sr. is the pastor of Higher Ground Worship Center, Church of God in Christ, in Murfreesboro and the author of “Lord, Keep My Mind Clean: A 31 Day Devotional & Accountability Journal.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.