This is Why I Have Come - Mark 1:35-39
There are so many things these day that call for our attention.
There are things that demand attention in our home. Repairs to make, dishes to do, kids to parent, etc.
There are things online that call for our attention. I’ve discoverd that facebook reels, or youtube shorts are huge traps for me. I can watch video after video after video and before I know it an hour has passed.
There are things in the culture that seek your attention. Today is the Super Bowl, and an estimated 110 million people will watch today. There is a reason why a 30 second advertisement will costs $7M this year. Where else can you get that kind of attention on your product?
There are things in our jobs, politics, neighborhoods, etc that all seek your attention.
When it comes to personal priorities, how do you choose how to spend your time?
This week I was listening to a podcast about a particular discipline, and the host was argueing that every man in America ought to be making time to improve in that discipline. I got to thinking…I’ve heard that from several sources about a variety of disicplines…is it even possible to pursue them all?
All men should be physcially fit, practice a marital art, practice his shooting skills, be an expert in his faith, be an expert in nutrition, should raise farm animals, grow his own food, have two side gigs, spend individual time with every child, have regular date nights with his wife, read a book a week, gain skills to better his career....the list goes on and its like....how do I prioritize those things? How do I know which things I should or can prioritize?
If we aren’t intentional, what will happen is that we will go through life and others will set our priorities for us. The children will set the priorities for the adults, rather than the adults setting the schedule for the children. Your friends will set your schedule and priorities.
I’ve seen this quote in a few places, so I don’t know who said it first. But the idea is this:
If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
If you don’t plan your day, someone or something else will.
How do we prioritize our time? How do we make sure that we are giving ourselves to the things that are most important?
In our text today we will find Jesus making key choices so as to prioritize his mission. There are two key priorities on display by Jesus Christ, and many lessons we can learn from them.
What are those priorities? The priorities of Prayer and purpose. Let’s read this text.
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
What are the prioirities of Christ?
1. Christ Prioritizes Prayer
1. Christ Prioritizes Prayer
This is the first of several times in the Gospel that we will see Jesus withdrawing to spend time alone with His heavenly Father. From the way these episodes read, it seems as though this was Jesus’ customary practice, and so Mark may only records the accounts of it when there are other events that intersect with this practice of Jesus.
His habit was three fold:
a. To rise early
b. To be alone
c. to spend that time in prayer.
There is so much that could be said about this as a discipline. I’m sure we’ve all heard something to the effect that “If Jesus did this, and he’s the Son of God, how much more should we give ourselves to this”
Certainly there is truth to this. If Jesus, God in human flesh, was dependent upon his walk with his heavenly Father, then by way of argument from the greater to the lesser, we too must recognize our own dependency upon the Father and give ourselves to personal devotion.
However, often such rhetoric does little more than place a guilt trip upon individuals, and I’m not interested in that today.
There is practical value to doing what Jesus did. He arose early in the morning.
I am not naturally a morning person. My natural proclivity is to stay up late and want to sleep in later in the mornings.
However, I have also learned that my mind is most focused and least distracted early in the morning. If I get up before anyone else is up, before the noise of my mind starts spinning around, it is then I find my times with the Lord are best.
There is practical value to doing as Jesus does here. I commend to you the practice as a matter of practical wisdom for your times with the Lord.
There is an old Hymn that speaks of the value spending intentional time in prayer.
Perhaps you’ve heard it
Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer! that calls me from a world of care, and bids me at my Father's throne make all my wants and wishes known. In seasons of distress and grief, my soul has often found relief, and oft escaped the tempter's snare by thy return, sweet hour of prayer!
This is a song that I doubt many can resonate with these days, which is a sad thing. I’m not going to ask for a show of hands, but how many of us can honestly say that you regularly spend a straight hour in prayer?
I’m not trying to give you a guilt trip with that question. The Bible nowhere says “thou shalt spend and hour straight in prayer”
What I want to communicate is the value and benefit of spending time in prayer like that.
I had a seminary class a while back and one of the assignments was to pray for an hour straight. We were given specific instructions to help accomplish the task, but that was the assignment.
When I did that assignment, it may have been the first time I ever intentionally sat down for prayer and prayed for an hour straight. The time moved so much faster than I anticipated, and I found that I got through and hour without praying through my entire list.
I also found that I was so much more focused and productive that day and accomplished more than I had been able to on other days. We tend to think, “I’m so busy! I can’t spend an hour in prayer! I need to do other things!” You might be surprised how the Lord honors your efforts when you devote yourself to him.
It has become somewhat of a legendary quote, but Martin Luther is often quote as saying something along the lines of “I have so much to do today, but I must spend the first three hours in prayer.” There is debate about whether he every actually said that, but according to one source, even if he didn’t say it, it is consistent with his views on prayer that we do have and he did often spend three hours in prayer.
Should you spend three hours in prayer?
I’m never going to say no to that question.
But rather than making legalistic requirements for how much time you spend in prayer and when you do it, I would simply like to challenge you and myself with this:
Does your life reflect that your personal walk with the Lord is a priority in your life?
Do you know what power you are missing out on through prayerlessness??
There was a man named Peter Deyneka, he was nickname Peter Dynamite. He was a Russian-American eveangelist and missionary to the slavic speaking world, and was one of the founders of the Slavic Gospel Association, which is an IFCA mission organization whose mission is to help train Slavic pastors to reach their countries for Christ.
Peter Deyneka was called Peter Dynamite because of his prayer life. He wrote a book titled “Much prayer, much power”. He goes on to explain in the book. little prayer, little power. No prayer. no power.
So I’d like to challenge us this week. Do the 1 hour challenge. There are half sheets in your worship guide with some helpful tips for how to get started.
Find somewhere quiet, minimize distractions, turn your phone off
Take a list
Don’t get comfortable
Don’t get discouraged when your mind wanders. Just refocus and press on.
Use a prayer template like ACTS or something similar.
But try it. Set a timer and do it. just one hour, and see for yourself the difference it can make.
Again, this is not an attempt at a guilt trip. But an encouragement to spend time with the one who has promised you that prayer is effective. Consider what you may be missing out on in your life, and consider the example of Jesus Christ.
Jesus made time with the Lord a priority. Let’s follow him by making time with our Lord a priority as well.
What did this time with the Lord accomplish for Christ?
In the context here, Jesus is focused on His mission. Why is he here? This priority of prayer served to help keep him focused on his mission.
And it is his mission that is his next priority in this text.
2. Christ Prioritizes His Purpose
2. Christ Prioritizes His Purpose
Notice the disciples come to Christ. The text says that they were searching for Jesus. They were hunting him down, seeking where he went. Our kids love to play hide-and-seek. We all know how that game works, right? Everyone hides and one person is seeking and they look diligently until they have found everyone.
Here the disciples seek out Jesus, and when they find him, they inform him: hey. Everyone is looking for you. In the text the word “everyone” is in the emphatic position. All the people are seeking you out.
What is the implication of these words?
If everyone is looking for you, then you should come to find out what they want. By this phrase, Simon is placing an obligation upon Christ. These people want you, so you need to come and meet with them.
This is the kind of thing that I mentioned in the introduction. If you don’t plan your day, someone else will plan it for you. Simon was seeking to plan the day for Jesus. Or rather, he was acting at the behest of the people who were seeking to plan the day for Jesus.
This is going to be a minor theme in this Gospel. The disciples routinely just don’t get it. They don’t understand what Christ’s priorities are. This will come to a head in chapter 8 when Jesus rebukes Peter and says
For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man
Jesus has called his disciples to learn from him and follow after him. He is going to send the disciples out and they will minister to the people.
Jesus has called them to be his representatives to the people, but here they seem to acting like the people’s representatives to Jesus. They’ve got it all backwards.
But Jesus does not allow that to happen. He hears that the people are seeking him, but he doesn’t even address that situation. Instead of saying “alright, well let’s go see what they want” he says “almighty then. Time to leave.
Why? What if there were more people who needed healing? Jesus won’t you be missing out on some potentially incredible opportunities?
Jesus has a mission, and he is not going to let anyone else set the agenda for him. He will set the agenda, he will move the ball forward, he will determine what he does and when.
Look at what he says
“Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out”
In the Greek the words “That is why” are in an emphatic position. I am going to preach, and I’m going to preach because it is for the purpose of preaching that I have come.”
The most important thing for Jesus and his ministry was not the miracles. The most important thing about Jesus and his ministry was not healing people. the most important thing about Jesus and his ministry was not casting out demons. The most important thing about Jesus ministry was to call sinners to repentance and faith that they might enter the Kingdom.
This goes back to verse 14-15. The Kingdom of heaven has come near. Repent and believe the Gospel.
Everything else that Jesus did in his ministry was in service to this main central focus. His calling of his disciples was to train them to proclaim this message. The casting out of demons and the healings, and the other miracles that they we will see, they all serve to help authenticate this message. Everything that Jesus says and does relates to this central message.
Last week I spoke about about the compassion of Jesus and the need to be engaged in mercy ministry as followers of Christ. But I stressed at that time the need to keep things in balance and not get things out of whack. I talked about the errors of the social Gospel and how we can so easily get distracted by all the physical needs of this world that we go around and do everything we can to help those physical needs which is all good and right, but then we never get to the Gospel. We never get to people’s spiritual needs.
We never get to the central issues about why they are struggling with their physical needs in the first place, and its all because of sin! It might their own sin, it might be the sin of others, it might be the consequence of living in a sin-cursed world, but it all comes back to sin, and the only solution to any of it is through faith in Jesus Christ!
But we can get so distracted.
There was a book written a few years ago that was analyzing how church tend to suffocate under the weight of all their programs. There’s a program for children, a program for teens, a program for college and career, a program for young couples, a program for singles, a program for men, a program for women, a program for seniors, and the list goes on and on and the church gets programmed to death.
All of those things. Many of them might be excellent programs on their own.
But what. about. the gospel? Are we letting all the needs of the people distract us from what is truly important? And again, I’m an advocate for meeting needs when and where we can. But it takes away from Gospel ministry, we have our priorities misaligned.
And it isn’t that Jesus gave up meeting people’s physical needs. Look at verse 39:
He went through all Galilee, preaching in their synagogue and casting out demons.
This verse serves as a summary verse for all of Jesus ministry. This is almost like shorthand for all things that Jesus was doing. Healing, preaching, teaching, and casting demons.
Jesus didn’t forsake meeting physical needs altogether. But he kept his priorities straight. He didn’t let others set his agenda, but he set it for himself. Sure, he could have spent a lifetime helping the people of Capernaum, but there were many people in other towns who needed the Gospel message as well. So he prioritized His Gospel ministry over the desires of the people of Capernaum.