Luke 5:16

ESV But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
NIV But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
NASB But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
CSB Yet he often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.
NLT But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
KJV And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
NKJV So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

What does Luke 5:16 mean?

Jesus has just healed a man with leprosy who, instead of showing himself to the priests as Jesus instructed, spreads the news among the people (Luke 5:12–15; Mark 1:45). Jesus was already dealing with crowds—at least one so big He had to climb in a boat to make sure people could hear Him (Luke 5:1–3). Now it's even more difficult for Him to have any private time.

Jesus makes a conscious effort to get away and pray. He is God and the Son of God, but the Son needs His Father. Their relationship during Jesus' incarnation is slightly altered. Jesus has "humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). The communion the Persons of the Trinity shared is not broken, but it does take more effort to maintain.

Despite the importance of Jesus' connection to the Father, when the crowds come He responds to them (Mark 1:45). Even when Jesus tries to take His disciples away to rest and mourn for John the Baptist, a crowd follows them. Instead of hiding, Jesus "[has] compassion on them and heal[s] their sick" (Matthew 14:13–14).

Luke focuses on Jesus' prayer life more than the other Gospel writers. Believers should take note: if God the Son needs to break away from ministry to spend private time with His Father, we do, too. We cannot serve others faithfully if we are not empowered by the One who sent us to serve. When we are interrupted we should respond graciously. But knowing there is much to be done—many needs to fill—should send us to our knees before we try to meet the challenges.
What is the Gospel?
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