Prayer, Passion and Preaching: Mark 1: 35-39

‘After a day of intense excitement, with the news of God’s kingdom going public with a bang, Jesus knew his need of a God given sense of direction and inner strength, both to build on the apparent success of the previous day and to take things forward in the right way.’(i)

Jesus, we are told, didn’t leave the house early. He left very early – before the sun was up.  Maybe he woke early. Maybe, after the excitement of healings on the previous day he was having trouble sleeping. It’s probable that in the early morning, more people were starting to arrive at the house, looking for Jesus the healer. People are excited and desperate for help. They have never seen anything like this. Everyone wants to see Jesus.

Jesus was a guest in the home of the disciples. The fact is, I suspect, that when the disciples awoke, Jesus simply wasn’t there. How can you mis-place a house guest? Especially one as important as Jesus. Where’s Jesus? Surprise and embarrassment turn to panic as they search for him.

When my children were small, I had an older friend who used to tell me that the key to good parenthood was making time for ‘a bit of p & q’. Sid wasn’t a man of faith, but he knew that moments of ‘peace and quiet’ were precious. They could be restorative and energizing. In our modern lives, finding the right place for downtime is a challenge. We have to work at it. So many things are constantly grabbing at our attention, we have to create space. Back then, I used to grab quiet moments to sit, all on my own, on the back step of our house. All weathers – day or night., that was my space. The family respected that this was my quiet place. Of course there were always interruptions. Visitors would occasionally find it strange when they arrived to find me sitting on the back doorstep in the rain.

If you read the Gospel’s, you’ll see that time and again Jesus made space in his life for a bit of very purposeful peace and quiet. A place where he can pray. A place where he can connect with God. A time when he could recover his strength and allow the Holy Spirit to direct His steps. If the Son of God needed that to keep Him on target, how much more do I need it!

In later times I have learned to find my own space in a field, or on a bench in the local park. As a commuter, I could be quiet on a busy tube train and I could pray as I walked across the city between meetings. As I write, I am having some downtime in a local coffee shop.

Of course, even for Jesus there were interruptions.  Can you sense the irritated tone of the disciples who found Jesus’ behaviour strange. ‘What are you doing here? Everyone’s looking for you!’ Yesterday was awesome. Today could be even better!  There are people queuing up outside my house and you’re up here taking a moment!

Yesterday, Jesus demonstrated his extraordinary power. Today he has the opportunity to really consolidate his reputation. But Jesus is not up for that. He is ready to leave Capernaum and head for the villages. The healings in Capernaum have announced his ministry to the world. But from now on,  His ministry is less about physical health. The heart of His ministry – his passion –  is spiritual health. From this point forwards, the heart of His ministry is preaching. ‘That,’ says Jesus, ‘is why I have come.’ (v38)

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