I mentioned last week that I was away for a time of study, rest, and prayer. The time was a blessing and I am thankful for our elders who have encouraged it. My time away also stirred my thinking about the rhythms of life which shape our work and relationships. With that in mind, will you join me back in Mark this week as we look to another passage from the early days of Jesus’ public ministry?
Wednesday, September 23rd
Larger Portion of Scripture - Mark 1
Particular emphasis - Mark 1:35-39
Reflecting on the Text:
What is your first reaction when you read those opening words in verse 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.” Do these words leave you feeling exhausted? Or, might they stir in you a sense of longing? Read them again and listen to your heart.
Why might Jesus have needed that time in prayer? Why was it so important that the Lord chose to highlight it in His Word? And what are we do with this verse? Is it instruction? Or could it be something deeper? Again, listen to your heart.
Jesus’ little early morning quiet time almost seems like a side note in the passage. It is almost parenthetical, offering a pause in the “action” between His work of healing the sick, casting out the demons, and cleansing the lepers. Almost.
Early in His ministry, Jesus’ fame was growing. His ministry was taking off. He was successful, and yet He took time to step away from it all. He seemed to need time to take away from it all. But His time away was not spent sleeping in. On the contrary, He was intentional to rise very early. He did so to get away and be with His Father. That time seemed to nurture His soul and prepare Him so that He could continue in His calling. So in verse 39, He moved on to the next town to preach. That was why He came.
It seems as if verse 35 is included in the description of Jesus’ early ministry because He is setting forth a rhythm. In the course of pursuing His calling, Jesus sets forth a rhythm of non-productivity…of rest…of being with. This “being with” the Father tells us something foundational about the heart of Jesus, and something foundational about the productivity of His ministry. It was founded on a relationship that Jesus needed, desired, and was fueled by.
So we go back to the question. In this verse, is Jesus setting before us instruction for regular devotional time? Or could it be something deeper? If Jesus sought time with the Father in prayer, how much more do we need it? Answer with your heart, and establish a new rhythm for life in Christ.
Questions for personal reflection:
What gets in the way of you making time to be with Jesus in His Word?
Have you ever considered establishing a regular rhythm of devotional time in the Word out of need and desire rather than out of obligation?
How might a rhythm of “non-productivity” further strengthen you in your life’s calling?