Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.
John 11:54We're two weeks away from Easter.
We're a week away from the beginning of the Passion Week.
But what of this week?
What was Jesus doing as He prepared for the Triumphal Entry?
What was He doing in those days before He would bear the sins of the world?
How did He spend His time as He began writing His opus of grace?
The Gospels are a bit vague on these days.
That time of quiet follows what is Jesus's most dramatic and prophetic miracle, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. His notoriety and ministry would have been at its height, His Gallup Poll numbers huge. But He retreats.
The Gospel of John gives us a bit of clue. John records that Jesus retreats to a small village called Ephraim, removing Himself from the purview of the high priest Caiaphas.
It's an ironic name for a burg in the desert. Ephraim was the name of Joseph's second son, Joseph of the coat-of-many-colors fame. Ephraim means 'doubly fruitful', almost akin to naming a small hamlet in the Mojave Desert "Lush" or "Eden". Ephraim, 'doubly fruitful', a forgotten spot in the desert, remote enough to keep Jesus and His disciples hidden from the vengeful motives of the High Council.
But Jesus will emerge from Ephraim ready to produce more fruit than even the results of His miracle with Lazarus. He will come into Jerusalem, ready to lay down His life to give us a doubly fruitful life, a life lived in this world and then another life to come in glory. Double fruitful. A double harvest from the sowing of seed He is about to make.
What were those days in Ephraim like for Him? John records that He had His disciples with Him there. I suppose that means Judas Iscariot was with the group. How often in those days did Jesus looks across the room at him, knowing what was to come? How often did He look into the faces of his dear friends and know that their lives would be irrevocably changed in just a few days?
I want to reflect during the Passion Week on His journey into Jerusalem. I want to remember His time of agonized prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. And as Passover arrives, I want to think on His final meal with His disciples.
But this week, I want to remember His being in a desert town ironically named Ephraim. Because that time in Ephraim was when He could have walked away. He knew that once He entered Jerusalem, the ball would start rolling, so to speak. It was in Ephraim that He reminded Himself that He was about to make His life doubly fruitful.
And I want to offer Him double the glory. And double the gratitude.