Summary: Jesus makes it clear that there is a time to take your stand, and there is also a time to retreat from your enemy so that you can be in control, and not at the mercy of the enemies choices.
Some of history's greatest battles have been won by means of retreat. The 13 colonies won the first
day of battle with England in the Revolutionary War because of a wise retreat. When Captain John
Parker saw several hundred British Redcoats marching on the double toward his 70 or so minute
men, forming a line on the Lexington Green, he knew at once he was facing a disaster. They had
vowed earlier never to run from the British, but Parker realized there is a time for everything, and
now was the time to run. He shouted, "Disperse, you men! Do not fire. Disperse!" They made a
hasty retreat into the countryside. Paul Revere and others took off warning the people that the
British were coming.
The result of this strategic retreat was that only a few Americans were killed in that first
encounter. By the time the British were marching toward Concord the Americans were prepared.
The British were shocked that these untrained farmers could shoot. The British suffered 250
casualties, and the Americans suffered less than 100. It was a day of victory because of a Captain
who knew the wisdom of withdrawal. The Captain of our salvation, the Lord Jesus, demonstrated
this same wisdom in His conflict with His foes.
Take note of the context of our text. In Mark 3:6 its says, "Then the Pharisees went out and
began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus." The kid gloves were coming off. No
more games. They were in a conspiracy to murder this miracle worker. Homicide was their only
solution for the solving of the mystery of a man like Jesus.
It is in the light of this context that we read verse 7: "Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the
lake." The Greek word for withdrew is anachoreo, and it caught my attention because Matthew uses
the same word in telling this account of the reaction of Jesus to the plot to kill Him. The word is
most often used to refer to a retreat, and a getting away from a dangerous situation. Jesus is not
ready for a showdown, nor does He have any macho need to prove His courage by courting death.
Instead He retreats from the city, and escapes the clutches of those who seek to kill Him.
By so doing Jesus makes it clear that there is a time to take your stand, and there is also a time to
retreat from your enemy so that you can be in control, and not at the mercy of the enemies choices.
This same word is used to describe the withdrawal of the wise men in Matt. 2:12. They took a new
route home to their country to escape Herod. Were they cowards by this retreat and refusal to face
up to the wrath of Herod? Not at all. They would have been fools to die for no cause, and they
would have done just that had they not taken the way of escape.
It is not only right to flee from evil men to avoid their anger and evil schemes, it is a Christian
obligation. To cooperate with evil by letting evil men kill you when you can escape is folly. The
wise men are heroes because they escaped and outwitted Herod. The same word is used also in
Matt. 2:14 where Joseph took the Christ child and Mary, and departed to Egypt to escape the wrath
of Herod. Joseph did not stay and fight for his right to have a son who would grow up to be a king.
He ran away. There is such a thing as positive escapism. We almost always think of escapism as
negative. It is a refusal to face reality, and a fleeing from reality. But the fact is, there is some
reality that it is wise and right to escape from. There is the deadly reality that evil men will do you
harm and even kill you, and it is not usually God's will that you die at the hands of evil men.
The theme of positive escapism runs all through the Bible.
Noah escaped the evil world and the flood.
Lot escaped from Sodom.
Israel escaped from Egypt.
Jonah escaped from the whale.
Daniel escaped from the lion's den.
His friends escaped from the fiery furnace.
David escaped from Saul.
Job escaped by the skin of his teeth and lived.
Peter escaped from prison and Herod's wrath.
Paul escaped from the Jews in the night.
All believers have escaped the judgment of God in Christ.
The greatest escape artist of all is Jesus. In John 10:39 we read that in a context where the Jews
were trying to stone Him, "They tried to seize Him, but He escaped their grasp." On another