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Gospel of Mark~#5 (1:32-39)

Started by Al Moak, November 14, 2003, 02:25:56 PM

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Al Moak

Mark 1:32 - 39
Who Are You Serving?

Imagine yourself on a certain evening in Simon and Andrew's house. It's an exciting time to be there because Simon's mother-in-law has just been miraculously and instantly healed of a dangerously high fever. As was customary in that day, there were servants in the house, some of whom lived elsewhere in Capernaum. When the servants were no longer needed in Simon's house that evening, therefore, they went to their own houses, and, on their way, they excitedly told everyone they met about the astounding miracle they had witnessed!

And the miracle they'd seen was the more impressed on them because it was such a complete healing. Peter's mother-in-law was in fact so grateful that she gladly - and energetically – got up and served the people who were gathered in the house! In other words, she got up from what may well have been her deathbed to direct the entire household in their preparation of an important evening meal for at least five guests in addition to any servants who lived there!

So news went out all over the city, and the result was that many in Capernaum began thinking about their own illnesses and those of their loved ones, and they began thinking about what this Jesus might do for them. So it wasn't long before everyone in the town wanted to visit the healer! Many, many people began bringing the sick and lame to Simon's door, pleading with this wonderful Rabbi to repeat for them what they had heard He had done for Simon's mother-in-law.

How would you think our Lord responded? Did He send Simon out as an appointment secretary to screen people and set times for them to come during the coming week - so that He wouldn't be mobbed, and so that He could get to bed that night at a decent hour? Such a response wouldn't have been like Him!

Instead, He went right out to them, and, Mark tells us, "He healed many who had various illnesses, and He cast out many demons." Some have thought the word "many" meant that He wasn't willing to heal everybody who needed it. But the emphasis is on the word "many," not because Jesus healed only a few people, but because it was indeed many!

In fact, if mass media had been available in those days, television and radio programming would have been interrupted for special bulletins, and newspapers would have had headlines four inches high that read, "RABBI LABORS FAR INTO NIGHT TO HEAL HUNDREDS!" - and half the world would have been coming to Simon's door!

But there's something else that's more than a little unusual about these events.  The fact is that there are very few instances in the Gospels of our Lord healing so many people at one time and in one place. It was much more usual for Him to heal an individual here and an individual there. But great numbers were healed on this particular evening, yet there is none of the glamour and glitter of modern "healing ministries." In fact the entire occasion is wonderfully simple: people came in great numbers, and Jesus went out to them and ministered to one after another.

And it's more than safe to assume that He dealt with each and every one with genuine concern, wonderful gentleness, and kindly love, as well as with power. It's equally safe to assume that He encouraged each one to enter the Kingdom, to receive forgiveness, and to live righteously thereafter.

But let's move on to verses 35-39.   These verses should also be of great interest to us. They tell us that though the previous evening had been extremely long and arduous, yet, " . . . having risen exceedingly early, while it was still night, He went out. And He went from where He was to a desert place and prayed there!" The Greek emphasizes the earliness of the hour. Yet there's no grumbling about being too busy, too tired, etc. In fact He was up and praying even earlier than usual!

Remember too that the day before was also the day that He taught in the synagogue and cast out the unclean spirit from a man who had come screaming into the midst. Then He had healed Simon's mother-in-law as well as being a cordial, attentive, and loving dinner guest – and probably using the time at table to teach and exhort those around Him!

We need to consider the fact that we all greatly value some time off from work! We all like to relax with television, reading, or various diversions after "a hard day's work." How willing would you be, after work, to put in another 5 or 6 hours listening to complaints and hearing the moaning and groaning of (at least) hundreds of people?  Of course each one would want you to come to them first.  Of course your dealing with each one would have to be careful and gentle, and while you were healing people you'd also be encouraging each one to enter the Kingdom. Would you then be willing the next morning to get up at 3 or 4AM for some hours of intense prayer?

Well then - do you want to be like Him? The cost is high. But, if you do, you'll need two things: you'll need to love Him a lot more than you now do, and you'll need a powerful moving of His Holy Spirit in your heart to make you willing to deny yourself. These are really one and the same, since it's only by the moving of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that we can love Him more, and it's only our of love to Him that we'll be willing to deny ourselves.

But that doesn't mean we can or should sit back and simply wait for Him to make the first move. If we really want to love Him more, then there are some things we can and should do. For instance, we'll need to use His Word more and more – we'll need to use it solely for the purpose of becoming more acquainted with Him. And we'll have to pray for the moving of His Spirit in our hearts and lives to love the One we come to know.

And another thing we need to see here - our Lord wasn't success oriented! Some who were healed were no doubt also born anew and entered immediately into the Kingdom. Others may have taken longer. Many may never have experienced any inward change at all: Miracles don't make Christians. Yet Jesus healed just the same. His kindness, gentleness, love, etc. were just the same toward those who remained in rebellion toward His Father.

How about us? Who or what is it we serve? Do we serve our Father in Heaven, as Jesus did, leaving the results to Him, or do we serve success? God grant us the Spirit of our Lord! May He live in us as He lived in Him!

Finally, we need very much to see the place of prayer in Jesus' ministry. Because of His true manhood, prayer was as much a part of His work as anything else he did, and because it was so important to Him, He sometimes needed undisturbed time for it. We could say that in the instance before us, then, He got up early to get to work on time - He got up so that He could accomplish much before the hectic pace of the day caught up with Him.

And He was extremely successful in prayer. When the disciples finally found Him, He had already arrived at some very important decisions regarding His ministry. Although His disciples were sure that His highest priority should be to go back to Capernaum to minister to the thousands who were eagerly seeking Him, yet He did not think so. He answered them, "Let us go into the country towns they have in this area, so that I may preach there also, because it is for this purpose that I was sent out (from Heaven)." He came to that conclusion through prayer.

But why prayer? Did His Father not know the situation - did Jesus have to tell Him? What is the purpose of prayer, anyway? Our Lord Himself begins to answer that question in Matthew 6:8. He says, "Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him." The purpose of prayer isn't informing God. So what is its purpose?

For our Lord at least, one of its purposes was apparently to receive direction, to find out the Mind of the Father. The disciples had come to Him with the message that He should stay in Capernaum, but our Lord tells them He must broaden the scope of His ministry to the entire surrounding area (in fact, as we see in the following verse, to the whole Galilean region.) This new thrust was undoubtedly the direct result of His conversation with His Father.

Do you get directions that way? Do you think that our Lord is different, that because He is the Son of God, He therefore had some kind of direct, audible conversation with God, something you can't hope to experience? Remember Paul's words: "although He existed in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." (Phil. 2:6, 7) Since He emptied Himself, it's plain that He didn't use any special privileges as the Son of God. He was "in the likeness of men," so He didn't converse with God in any way differently than we may. We may do as He did, and we may experience similar results.

As He carefully considered the options and prayed, a course of action became clear. He could see with certainty that He must not stay only in and around Capernaum, because, as He here tells His disciples, He was sent out from Heaven to preach the Gospel widely.

In our own day, Christ has risen to the right Hand of the Father. The result is that He has fulfilled His promise to send the Spirit into His people's hearts. By His Spirit, He dwells in us just so that we may do what He did - we may commune with God, seek His will, consider all the options, and know how He would have us to go. God will not always deal with each of us precisely as He did with His Son. Many times, we must wait - perhaps even for a long period - before He makes the path clear to us. But He WILL lead us, if we are truly willing to be led.

Of course, to be sure we have His direction, we need to be more and more acquainted with His Word - with all of its principles regarding the things we might contemplate doing. We need to be so much in it that we just naturally apply its principles to whatever we do. God won't guide us contrary to it.

So I think we've seen something of our Lord in this passage. And now I believe there are at least three applications here for us.  First, Jesus' total self denial should move us to self denial too. Secondly, His intensely loving ministry to each individual - regardless of response - should also characterize our ministry.  And, finally, we can have complete confidence that He really will guide us.

I've had to ask myself some questions as I consider these three things. I'm sure you can figure out what they are. (I'm equally sure I'm not the only one who needs to ask them.) Firstly, it's easy to see that I'm not adequately dedicated to glorifying Him in my life. I'm quite sure that I'm going to need to pray that our Father will move me to love Him enough to be willing to sacrifice many of the pursuits and pleasures of this life - to actually give up lots of time and to devote much energy to studying His Word and to ministering to others.

Secondly, I need to be so related to our Lord that I'm serving Him, not success. In other words, I need to pray that I'll go on serving Him even when there are no visible results, even when no one turns to the Lord, even when no one thinks I'm doing right.

Finally, I need to pray. I mean PRAY! No matter how I feel, no matter whether I fully understand, I need to devote MUCH time to prayer - for myself, for others, for God's work in the world.

It's a matter, brothers and sisters, of rededication - and rededication again and again. Our Lord deserves it. Let's resolve to do it!


Thank you Pastor Al.  I am going to come back to this again and again.  Sometimes it is hard to keep trying when so many mock one's faith.  The thing is, when faith becomes weak, something happens to restore and encourage.  Many times that has happened in my life and I praise the Lord for never leaving.

Al Moak

Bless you Liz.  I pray He'll give you calm in the midst of storm of moving (I pray the same for us!).