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Saturday, 7 February 2015

Mark 1:29-39 Solitude and Prayer Help Us to Do God’s Work


A Baptist minister and his wife decided to get a new dog. Ever mindful of the congregation, they knew the dog must also be a Baptist. They visited kennel after kennel and explained their needs. Finally they found a kennel whose owner assured them he had just the dog they wanted.

The owner brought the dog to meet the couple. “Fetch the Bible,” he commanded. The dog went to the bookshelf, found the Bible and brought it to the owner.

“Now find Psalm 23,” the owner commanded. The dog dropped the Bible to the floor, leafed through it, found the correct passage, and pointed io it with his paw.

The couple were impressed and bought the dog.

That evening a group of church members came to visit. The minister and his wife began to show off the dog, having him locate several Bible verses. The visitors were very impressed.

One man asked, “Can he do regular tricks, too?” “I haven’t tried yet,” the minister replied.

He pointed his finger at the dog. “HEEL!” the minister commanded. The dog immediately jumped on a chair, placed one paw on the minister's forehead and began to howl.

The minister looked at his wife in shock and said, “Good Lord! He’s Pentecostal!  

Have you ever been so busy that you’ve had to go to a quiet place to be alone for a little while? Jesus certainly was. He was always busy teaching, preaching and healing. He was always followed by a crowd of people, including the disciples. He was always busy, but he always had time for solitude and prayer. In the reading from Mark 1:29-39, Jesus had a successful day of casting out demons and healing the sick. He ran the risk of exhausting his energy. It’s no wonder, therefore, that he had to be alone and pray.

We do have busy lives. We have enough things to do in our lives-work, home, rest, maybe the odd movie. Jesus was probably the busiest man in history, but he always found time to pray. If he, as busy as he was, could find time to pray, so can we.

In prayer, Jesus allows God to do for him what he did for Peter’s mother-in-law. The reason why Jesus healed people was to proclaim God’s love in human affairs. In order to do this, he had to be in constant fellowship with God through prayer. God had a firm grasp on Jesus and would never let go. Jesus always made time for prayer, and we need to make time for prayer too. Prayer fills our spiritual gas tank. Prayer gives us the energy we need to do God’s work in our world. Prayer refreshes us. Prayer allows God to use his love to warm our hearts and ease our suffering. Jesus knew that prayer could help us get through life. He knew that prayer would give us life. He knew that prayer changes us for the better. Prayer becomes a lifestyle. We must never become too busy to pray. We are special to God, and he loves us so much that we wants regular time with us.

Prayer involves order and discipline. It will stand the test at work. It is decisive for the day. If we neglect prayer, it will cause wasted time that we are ashamed of, temptations, weakness, lack of discipline and discouragement. Prayer will allow our time to be ordered and well-scheduled.  

Jesus went to pray in a place that was spiritually similar to a desert wilderness. He was free from distractions so that he could find strength from the God he came to serve. Jesus regularly prayed in a solitary place before his day began so he could commune with his Father and prepare himself for the challenges he would face. Even when our plans are laid out for us, we need to take time to listen to God’s will for our lives.

When his disciples found him, they told him that people were looking for him. Mark’s mention of the whole city suggests a crowd large enough that everyone in Capernaum knew what Jesus had done. The disciples thought that Jesus would build his popularity by attending to the people he had already attracted. Because Jesus knew that his primary purpose was to preach the good news of salvation, he could ignore the expectations of others and concentrate on his mission. He wanted people to hear the word of God and not see his miracles. He knew that his mission was preaching and teaching instead of healing, and he knew that there were more people who had to hear his message. That’s why he moved on instead of staying in Capernaum.

Jesus set a good example for us to follow. He wants us to grow as Christians. If we stop growing, churches become paralyzed and the body of Christ becomes infected with our frustration. Jesus chose risk over security. He did not know how people in other towns would react to his message, but he pressed on because of his mission.

We have the same mission. We are called on to witness to other people. We have to fulfill the Great Commission. That does not necessarily mean that we have to preach in other churches like I do. We can fulfill our mission by sharing our faith with our friends and neighbours. 

Jesus’ healing of Peter’s mother-in-law was typical of all of his earthly miracles. It was tender, personal, low key, matter-of-fact, and without fanfare that other healers often sought. When Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, he made it possible for her to help others and to serve them with dignity. He does the same thing for us so we can serve others in the same way.

When Jesus heals, he also gives new life. Those who receive this new life become willing and able to serve others. When one receives, one usually wants to share. The best ministers among us do their work with a sense of joy that comes from their experiences of Jesus “raising them up.” I’m speaking from personal experience. Jesus has raised me up from the valleys I’ve had to walk through recently. I have a sense of great joy when I do my work as a minister to all of you. The new life Jesus gives us gives us the power to see the needs of others and respond with energy and enthusiasm.

Jesus does not need the endorsement from the forces of evil. His teachings and deeds would prove that he was the son of God. When Jesus casts out demons, it shows that God’s kingdom is advancing and is driving back Satan’s power over our lives.

We need to be motivated by what God calls us to do and not by what other people expect us to do. We have to do God’s will even if it doesn’t please people. God’s message is not in sync with the rest of the world. The way the world works isn’t how God works in teaching, healing and dismissing the evil in our hearts and minds. That does not mean that we must abandon the world. We need a certain amount of power, money, community and enjoyment, but none of these can take the place of God.

Jesus knows what it’s like not to be able to please people. He could not heal and help everyone. He consoled himself with the knowledge that he would do what he could do for the people he met. We have to remember this. We can’t please everyone, but we must remember that if we help the people we can help, God will be pleased. God favours service, not power. Christ blesses us when we take on the role of a servant.

When we are ready to be healed, we are ready to let Jesus come into the place that is wounded and help us. Jesus didn’t seek out the sick. They came to him. Jesus frees us from what binds us so we can offer our lives in service to others. We are drawn to what God asks us to do, and we can go about it with a deep sense of purpose.

 Bibliography

 
1.      Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing, 2013)

2.      ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 10 Bible software package.

3.      Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, 5th Sunday (B).” Retrieved from www.preacherexchange.org

4.      Sharon Jaynes, “Avoiding Burnout, Part 2.” Retrieved from www.girlfriendsingod.com

5.      William L. Self, “Jesus and Prayer: Programming the God Machine.” Retrieved from www.preaching.com

6.      Jim Burns, “Too Busy to Pray.” Retrieved from www.homeword.com

7.      Berni Dymet, “Jesus Prayer.” Retrieved from Christianity.com@crosswalkmail.com

8.      Pastor Bob Coy, “People Pleasers?” Retrieved from www.actsweb.org

9.      Exegesis for Mark 1:29-39. Retrieved from www.lectionary.org

10.  John Shearman’s Lectionary Resource, Year B, Fifth Sunday after Epiphany. Retrieved from www.lectionary.seemslikegod.org

11.  The Rev. Danae Ashley, “Is There Healing Without Curing?” Retrieved from www.episcopaldigitalnetwork.com

12.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Day 3.” Retrieved from biblegateway@e.biblegateway.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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