Quiet Time with God: Mark 1:29-39

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Continuing our journey through Mark’s gospel, as soon as Jesus left the synagogue where He cast out the demon, Mark describes how Jesus then heads home with of some of His disciples, and how Jesus again has the opportunity to help someone when arriving at this disciple’s home.

Let’s jump into the passage and discover what happened. Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 1, and we will read from the New International Version. Starting in verse 29, Mark tells us that:

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

Let’s pause briefly here in our passage, because Simon’s mother-in-law’s response is one of the best responses we could have when Jesus comes into our life. When Jesus touches Simon’s mother-in-law, the fever leaves her and the first thing she does is serve Jesus. When Jesus touches our lives with some healing or some blessing, the best response we can have is serving Jesus. Like Simon’s mother-in-law, serving Jesus is the best way we can say thank you to Jesus.

However, it is also worth noting that Jesus did not heal Simon’s mother-in-law so that she would serve. In that home, there would already have been people capable of serving. Instead, Jesus helps because He can and because there is a need, and not because He wants people to serve Him. God wants to help us because that is who God is, not because God wants more servants. If God wanted servants, He could have created millions and billions of perfect servant robots who would have no freedom of choice. God gifted His creation with the gift of choice because love requires the freedom of choice for it to mean anything.

I believe Jesus also healed Simon’s mother-in-law to relieve a little piece of stress in that home. The Sabbath was given for rest, and when someone is sick, those around them helping them are not experiencing rest, and in the case of the person who is sick, while they are resting, the rest they are experiencing isn’t the same quality of rest as they would have if they were well. Jesus likely healed Simon’s mother-in-law to help everyone present enjoy that Sabbath afternoon more and to give glory to God for what He had blessed them with.

However, Mark then jumps to that evening. Continuing in verse 32, Mark tells us:

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Pausing reading again, it appears as though Jesus is so busy helping people that He doesn’t get any chance to rest. However, while this was the case during some parts of His ministry, I believe Mark simply wants us to know Jesus’ actions and not Jesus’ rest.

Jesus didn’t spend hours healing one person, and helping Peter’s mother-in-law up out of bed wouldn’t have taken long. The time Jesus spent for each healing was likely measured in seconds rather than even minutes. After healing Peter’s mother-in-law, Jesus would have been able to spend a whole afternoon resting and simply being with the first disciples and Simon and Andrew’s family.

Also, in this second section of our passage, Jesus silences the demons, not letting them speak, likely because of what we shared in our last episode. In our last episode, we concluded that it is not wise to listen to Satan, demons, or even temptation. While Satan is capable of telling the truth, there is always a deceitful motive behind it and a majority of truth with a little lie is like a cup of water with a drop of poison. It is much wiser to reject everything Satan says and take our cue from the Bible, rather than focusing on trying to sift truth out of error.

It’s also possible Satan would try to derail Jesus’ plan using the popular belief at the time that God’s Messiah would be a military leader and that He would need followers rallied around Him to overthrow the Romans. The more people hearing validation that Jesus was the Messiah could cause an uprising that would attract the Roman army and Jesus would be killed outside of God’s plan.

However, what comes next in the passage is powerful, because Mark gives us a clue into the habits of Jesus. While it would be very easy to skip over this to get to more exciting miracles and teaching, let’s instead focus the rest of our time together on this last portion of our passage. Picking back up in verse 35, Mark tells us that:

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

In this passage, we discover that early in the morning, before the sun had risen, Jesus woke up, and went out to a place by Himself to pray and spend time with God. While we have other places in the gospels that describe Jesus spending extended periods of time praying, I don’t believe this early morning prayer time was limited to this single event.

Instead, this event might get recognition because it was the first time Jesus did this while the disciples were with Him, and it was a time where these guys who had agreed to follow Jesus had lost Jesus. It is probable in my mind that after this point, Jesus’ habit of waking up early to pray wasn’t a surprise to the disciples, and perhaps even some of the disciples formed this habit as their time with Jesus lengthened.

I also wonder if Jesus snuck out of town early that morning because of what He tells the disciples in response to what the disciples tell Him. While the disciples tell Jesus that everyone in the town is looking for Him, Jesus emphasizes the need to go to other towns and villages and do the same thing.

In a subtle way, Jesus emphasizes in this event how He had come not just for one town or one small group of people, but to help many more people. Jesus likely wanted to also emphasize that God was willing to travel to where those who needed help were. While many people traveled to where Jesus was, Jesus also traveled to where people needed help. Jesus crossed the universe to come to earth and to redeem humanity, and He was willing to travel to where people needed help. Jesus came for more people than one town, one gender, or one race. Jesus came to help and bless humanity because God loves the human race!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life, and use Jesus’ example in this passage as a guide. While we might not have people flocking to our door and demanding our time to cast demons out of their lives or to heal them in miraculous ways, we can model our lives after Jesus by getting up early in the morning, going to a place where we can be alone, and spending time with God. Jesus modeled this for us and this is a foundational habit for a strong spiritual life with God.

Also, while growing and strengthening this habit, intentionally pray and study the Bible for yourself while you are alone with God. When reading the Bible in prayer while you are with God, He will send you His Spirit to teach you what He wants you to learn and know. While many Bibles have articles or snippets of text written by other authors within them, focus your time on God in the chapters and verses that make up the Bible. While Bibles with snippets are helpful, if you focus only on the snippets and extras, you can only grow as far as the author of that snippet has grown while God might want to teach you more. Focusing on the Bible opens the door for God to teach you about Himself and about what He wants you to discover in the pages of His Word.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or be distracted away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Mark – Episode 3: While Jesus had every opportunity to let busyness crowd out important things in His life, Jesus was intentional about an action that we would be wise to replicate in our own lives. Discover what this habit was and another piece of Jesus’ mission in this podcast episode.

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