Summary: Jesus gave us an example of how to get through every kind of pressure, and He has provided for us to live abundant lives.
If you look at the title that I have assigned to this passage of Scripture, you will immediately know that this message is going to be relevant to you. Regardless of who you are and what you do, I would venture to say that you know what it is to feel the pressures of life crowding in on you. One man, who was telling me about the pressures of his job, said that he found it very relaxing to get on his riding mower and mow his grass. He said, "All I've really got to worry about is that I keep that left front wheel on the line of cut and uncut grass." Most of us have a hard time finding times that we don't have any more to think about than that.
By this point in Jesus' ministry, He had gained tremendous popularity, but He had also gained great criticism, and even the hatred of the religious leaders. The pressure was constantly on Him to not be overcome by the hatred of the Pharisees, and those who united with them, as well as the pressure to train His disciples, who showed more signs of not getting what He was teaching, than they did of getting it. Then, there was the pressure of finishing His earthly ministry in such a way that the Scripture would be fulfilled.
In this passage, we see Jesus steering His way through these things, and we are given an opportunity to make some much needed personal application of how we can handle the pressures that come our way.
Step aside from that which you know will hurt you, v7. We are told in the verse preceding our text that there was a plot to destroy Jesus, and our text says, "But Jesus withdrew..." He did not withdraw because of fear, but because of wisdom. At this point, He had five disciples: Peter, Andrew, James, John, and He had just called Matthew. These men were raw recruits. They need a lot more training before they would be ready to take on the task that Jesus was planning to lay on them.
Our ultimate enemy is the devil. He would like to see us rendered totally ineffective for God's kingdom, and he doesn't care what means he uses to accomplish it. He will even use a bad church experience. If you have never had a bad church experience, you just haven't gone to church enough! The devil will move on people in church to say and do some of the dumbest, most hurtful things you can imagine; and, if he doesn't do it that way, he will move on you to interpret things wrongly, so that you think people are intentionally being mean to you, when they really aren't. We've got to know how to side-step the devil's attack, and the way to do it is just like the Bible tells us to do it. First of all, we've got to love one-another and be committed to reconciliation with people, wherever it's possible. What the devil tempts us to do is to either blow up in anger, smolder in malice, or stay home in resignation. When we do any of those, the devil is laughing, because he knows he's accomplished his purpose. Whatever the devil uses to steal, kill and destroy our effectiveness, he will approach us through either the lust of our flesh, the lust of our eyes, or our pride.