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November 26, 2011

Praying and Preaching

Mark 1:35-39

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   I hope you notice the link we have seen between the new teaching of Jesus and the power of Jesus over diseases and demons.  The miracles Jesus worked served to confirm His authority and His teaching.  They also demonstrated His love for the people He healed and exorcised.  Today, we will see the link between the prayers of Jesus and preaching of Jesus.

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went to a secluded place, and was praying there.

Mark 1:35

       Early Morning.   Jesus had been very busy with all the people of the city coming to Him for healing and exorcism.  Before dawn, while it was still dark, Jesus went out to pray (Mark 1:35).  Jesus prayed at other times also, such as in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross, so we do not have to pray only in the early morning.  We can pray anytime.  Jesus set the example of early morning prayer, before He started His day.  Praying is more important than praying early.  We must take the time to pray every day, and to set aside a quiet time to pray away from everyone else.  For some people, at some times, praying in the early morning darkness may be the best time.  I recall learning Hebrew in seminary, and I would get up at 4:00 a.m. to study Hebrew, because I found it a wonderful time to read God’s word in the original language, and study it more carefully, often praying for His help and guidance as I learned.

       Left the House.  Jesus left the house where the other folks and His disciples were staying (Mark 1:35).  We see that Jesus wanted to go to a secluded (“ἔρημον”) place.  He spent time alone with the Father, filled with the Holy Spirit, as God the Son prayed and listened to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

       Praying There.  Jesus was praying in the wilderness (Mark 1:35).  The term “was praying” (“προσηύχετο”) indicates it was a continuing act of prayer.  If you sit down and get prayed out in thirty seconds, I recommend you stop there and let God direct your thoughts.  The Holy Spirit will help you pray, because we do not know how to pray without His prayer ministry in our lives (Romans 8:26).  You can pray for things, give thanks, worship, adore, praise, intercede, and do so many things as you sit in a quiet place before God.  Let Him control your time, so you will feel refreshed and equipped by God for the day.

Simon and his companions searched for Him;

Mark 1:36

       Searched for Him.  Simon and his companions searched for Jesus (Mark 1:36).  Apparently, Jesus has not told anyone where He was going, or how long He would be gone.  Jesus never felt compelled to tell His disciples all of His plans, although He certainly told them about many things He intended to do.  In this case, remember Jesus wanted to spend time praying alone.  Everyone needs time away from others to pray.

they found Him, and said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for You.’

Mark 1:37

       They Found Him.  The disciples found Jesus, so He did not go that far away from them (Mark 1:37).  As disciples, we should always be seeking to stay close to Jesus.  Today, He never leaves, but remains spiritually present with us at all times.

       Everyone Is Looking for You.  The disciples told Jesus that everyone was looking for Him (Mark 1:37).  Notice that only the disciples found Him.  Because Jesus had healed so many people, and cast out demons, the whole city had come to see Him the day before.  Jesus did not come for the sole purpose of healing the sick and casting out demons (although they were important aspects of His ministry), but to bring salvation from sin and eternal life by giving His life a ransom for many.  Jesus focused upon His purpose, and not upon the immediate demands of other people looking for Him.  Do you have times in your life where you live under the pressure of the expectations and demands of other people?  If so, then be like Jesus, and take time to pray to sort out your priorities before God, and gain His power and direction for daily living.  You will never be ready to talk to other people until you have first talked to God.

He said to them, ‘Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.’

Mark 1:38

        Let Us Go Somewhere Else.  Jesus did not respond to the demands of “everyone” looking for Him, or even His disciples.  Instead, He taught the disciples a very valuable lesson, as Jesus always did.  Take time every day to be sure that you do not respond to everyone as they wish.  Put God first, and follow His plans for you, and not the plans of everyone.  Jesus explained to the disciples that it was time to go somewhere else, even though the crowds were clamoring for Him (Mark 1:38).  He had been to their synagogue, and healed their diseases and cast out many demons.  But the time had come to move on.  I meet many people who have never learned the lesson of ignoring everyone in favor of following only One God.  We follow Jesus, and not everyone else.  We follow Jesus every day, and get our daily bread and direction directly from Him, in the quiet and secluded times.  Jesus told them it was time to go to the other towns nearby.

       I Came to Preach There.  Have you ever had a single day in your life where you knew you were going to the place God had selected for you that day, to speak the words He had prepared, and to do the things He had ordained for you, and take along disciples with you?  Jesus did that every day.  Can you imagine that kind of purpose in your life?  Consider the disciples for a moment.  They were aware crowds were looking for Jesus, but they knew they should follow Jesus that day.  He would set the course, preach the words, and go where He must go.  The same plan holds today.  God has created us for good works, that  we should walk in them daily (Ephesians 2:10).  Notice too that Jesus emphasized His preaching ministry.  He came to spread the good news of salvation, that those sitting in the darkness of sin might see a great light.  Jesus not only offered them the kingdom of God, but also the presence of the King in their midst.  He came to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, to preach the Gospel to the poor, to proclaim release to captives, the recovery of sight to the blind, and to set free those who are oppressed (Luke 4:17-21).  In essence, we simply follow Jesus every day, walking in the Holy Spirit, and doing the works the Father has prepared for us. 

And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out demons.

Mark 1:39

       Jesus Preached in Their Synagogues throughout All Galilee.  We have seen Jesus preaching in the synagogue, and performing His miracles.  Now we see the fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah regarding the dawning of the great light upon Galilee of the Gentiles (Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:12-16).  Jesus was the great light, and the light of salvation dawned upon them through His preaching.  He came to preach to them the Gospel.  Jesus went into their synagogues, and read from the Scriptures and preached the fulfillment of those Scriptures to them (Luke 4:17-21).  Jesus preached throughout all of Galilee, fulfilling the mission of His heavenly Father (Mark 1:39; John 17:4).

       Casting Out Demons.  We also read that Jesus was casting out demons (Mark 1:39).  As part of His compassionate demonstration of His new teaching with authority, Jesus also demonstrated absolute power over demons, and that power astonished the people in the synagogues.  Jesus used His power over the demons, whom He did not permit to speak, to bring their attention to His teachings and to God in the flesh standing before them.  Jesus emphasized here that demons were real, inhabited people in many synagogues, and that His ministry including releasing the demon-oppressed.  Those freed from demons should always remember to follow Jesus closely, so that other demons might not come back to take up residence in the body now swept and put in order (Matthew 12:43-45).

        So we learn more about prayer and preaching today.

    ●  Jesus prayed in a secluded place, away from everyone looking for Him.

     ●   Jesus preached in the synagogues throughout Galilee, spreading the light of salvation and casting out demons.

     ●  Jesus prayed before He preached, and we should pray before we go out to follow Jesus every day. 

Application for Today

      As I walk through life today, I want to follow Jesus after I pray first.  I want to fulfill all the works my Father in Heaven has prepared for me today.  The Holy Spirit will guide me and fill me, that I may walk in Him today.  Jesus will be holding my hand, and guiding me along the way.  At the end of today, I intend to pray and thank Him for all the things He did through me today.  What will you be praying about tonight and today?