Our current preaching series is from the Gospel of Mark and the today’s passage is Mark 1:35-45.
Read Mark 1:35-45 (Link)
Jesus wakes up early in the morning while it is still dark and goes to a desolate place to pray. Simon and some others come searching for him because there were people looking for him to get their needs met.
Instead, Jesus replies saying “Let us go to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came”. And then he went to throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
When a leper comes to him, he is moved with compassion and heals him but also tells him not to go out and tell people about it. But the leper does the opposite and goes out telling everyone about Jesus and the healing he performed because of which Jesus is unable to enter the town and had to stay outside in a deserted place.
The Main purpose of the passage
Since it is important to understand the passage in its original context we need to pay attention to what the author is trying to communicate to us.
If you pay close attention you will understand that in this passage what Mark is trying to say is that Jesus was determined and focused to preach the message of the Kingdom of God more than just meeting the needs and wants of the people by performing healing & miracles.
How do we know that?
1. His reply to Simon
When Simon came and told him that there were people waiting for him, and we all know the number the people who’d gather around Jesus, they might have been in hundreds or thousands.
Jesus instead of attending to their needs goes to the neighboring villages to preach in their synagogues saying “that is what he came to do”.
2. The reason why he asked the leper not to speak
The reason Jesus told the leper not to go and talk about the miracle is because he knew there would be more people gathering around him for the wrong reasons, which is what eventually happens when the leper goes around proclaiming.
Because of which Jesus couldn’t enter the town and had to stay in a deserted place where people came to him.
Jesus’s expectation from the people was not just to come to him for healing and miracles but more so that they listen to his preaching of the Kingdom of God.
What was Jesus preaching?
In Matthew 4:17 we see Jesus was preaching “Repent because the Kingdom of heaven has come near”
Jesus wanted the people to know that the fulfillment of the old testament prophesies about the Messiah is happening.
That he was the one whom God the Father sent for the redemption of mankind.
Jesus wanted them to know that He is the only way, truth, and life and that no one can go to the Father except through him, through his sacrifice on the cross.
He wanted to know the Father’s love for them, so much so that he sent his only son to die for their sake, in their place, and anyone who believes in him are the only ones who will enjoy eternal life in heaven.
He wanted them to know the TRUTH that will set them free from their bondage, curses, and infirmities.
He wanted them to know that the way to restore their relationship back with God was only through him.
But instead, people were flocking to him just to meet their temporary needs and wants. And we see that Jesus would withdraw himself from them.
What does it teach us?
It teaches us that every time we go to Jesus with our concerns about life for the sake of a healing or a miracle or a financial breakthrough. Jesus’s concern for us whether we’ve know him – the true source of all joy and fulfillment.
Jesus’s concern is whether we’ve understood the message of the Kingdom of heaven. Whether we are consistently aligning our lives, our goals, our affections, our dreams, our pursuits to towards the Kingdom and for the sake of God’s glory.
Sadly, we all know that is not the picture of our lives. Isn’t it!
Every day when we get up in the morning our minds and hearts and filled with worries & anxiousness about our circumstances. We are perplexed and confused all the time because we don’t know what to do and where to go to fulfill our needs and wants.
We want to hang out with Jesus only to receive his blessings and to see our prayers answered. We go to church to get something out of it.
What if I told you that there is a possibility that Jesus might not meet your need and that he has bigger agenda for your life then to just meet your needs and wants.
Would you still like to hang out with him?
You might say doesn’t God care about the situation I’m going through.
Of course, he cares about us but he cares more about His glory been manifested in and through our lives when we walk in obedience to his word.
Jesus wants us to see him and know him.
When we look at the story of Job – after he’s gone through all the sufferings and trails and accusations from his friends. When God speaks to him and reveals himself to him Job speaks to God and says in 42:5-6 “I had heard of you by hearing of the ear, but now my eyes sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
But that’s not the end
In Job 42:10 we see God restores everything back to Job in double measure.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all things will be added to you.”
Now that we know that Jesus’s focus is on our spiritual well-being and not just meeting our needs, and we also know that the problem with us is that we are constantly distracted with our needs and wants, our painful circumstances, with our desires for the things of the world.
What do we do to stay focused on the main thing?
The answer I believe is right there in the passage itself.
“We do what Jesus did”
Jesus, when he was surrounded by people trying to gain his attention and distract him from doing God’s will, he withdrew himself and went out to spend time with God in prayer all alone.
And that was Jesus’s regular pattern, he would often withdraw himself from the chaos around him to pray and re-align his thoughts and mind to focus on the main thing.
And what did he pray?
Look at the pray model Jesus gave us.
He asked us to pray that God would let his Kingdom come and let his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus himself in the most painful time when he was about to be crucified prayed if God could take the cup of suffering away from him but then he says but not my will but your will be done.
What are some of the distractions in our generation that we need to get rid so we can chase after the real thing?
1. Mobiles & Social Media Sites
Number one on my list is our mobile phones. I’m sure you didn’t see that coming.
Yes, it is!
Researchers have found that the mere presence of a handset is distracting – even if it is not your own. And the devices are likely to sidetrack you, even if they are not ringing or ‘pinging’ with text messages. (Read more)
In today’s generation, mobile phones are the number one distraction for us to spend time with God and his word. Our minds are constantly been bombarded with unwanted information and irrelevant thoughts all because of the easy access through our mobile phones.
If you think your mobile is a distraction for you to pursuing God for the right reasons then it’s time we act upon it and withdraw from it as far as possible. Use it only when it is needed.
Don’t let the phone dictate what you need to do and when you need to do. Instead, use it on your own terms.
My way of getting rid of the phone is to switch off all my notifications and keep it on silent all the time. I don’t take immediate calls cause I’m away from it most of the time. I only check my phone a couple of times during the day.
It’s a weird thing to do especially when you are into business, I get to hear that all the time.
But I’ve made my choice. This is how I want to stay focused on what God has called me to do. Do keep me in prayer.
2. Demands of Life
The other distraction could be the daily demands of our life.
Rushing to go to work in the morning, rushing to doing the work assigned to us, rushing to catch the train, the bus, the rickshaw.
The day goes by just attending to the immediate demands and we totally forget that we need strength to go on, we need hope to press on, we need guidance to stay on course.
It’s time that we realize how the demands of life are stealing our time with God which leads us in totally different directions, away from God.
For some its entertainment that’s distracting them from spending time with God
Sometimes, it could also be our family, children, friends that can be a distraction for us to be able to spend time in devotion.
… the list goes on.
You need to identify what’s the distraction in your life that keeps you away from growing spiritually and mature in your faith.
Remember, Jesus is interested in your spiritual maturity and not just meet your needs and wants. It happens when you spend time in prayer and meditate on his word day and night.
Psalms 1 promises that when we meditate on his word day and night we will be like the tree planted by the streams of water whose leaves will never wither and will be fruitful all the time.
And in the end of our lives we will find greater satisfaction when we live for God and for his purposes, more than the satisfaction we receive when our temporary needs are met.
So, lets gear up and chase after the main thing in life.