“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for You.’ 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.'” -Mk. 1.35-38
This passage gives us a remarkable insight into the inner-Man of Jesus Christ. The verses preceding this portion inform us that Jesus had, just the day before, “healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons.” The whole city had gathered at the door of Simon and Andrew’s home, for the word had gotten out that Jesus was touching people, and radically altering their lives with a historic day of healing and deliverance. The city of Capernaum had witnessed a moving of God’s Spirit through one Man, with miracles and exorcisms more notable than all of our modern healing campaigns combined.
The night fell, and Jesus went to sleep in Simon and Andrew’s home.
We can be sure that if “the whole city had gathered” there, and He had healed “many,” there was likely a host of needy souls waiting for Him the next day. Though this was another remarkable event with innumerable works of power, it is quite probable that the entire population of Capernaum’s sick and diseased were not healed. The Gospels seem to indicate the occasions when Jesus healed all who were present, and since that was not said here, we can assume there may have been others in this particular instance who were not healed.
Now, in the face of so much neediness, we can see the nature of how the Apostle and High Priest of our confession enters into His mission.
“In the early morning…. Jesus…. went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.”
Isn’t it remarkable that the Son of God desired (and was perhaps required) to get to a secluded place to come more fully into the heart of the Father through prayer; to find replenishment, direction, and wisdom for the next day? The awesome thing about all of this is that Jesus did not primarily do the works that He did because of His Divinity, but rather, because of His utter dependence upon God as a Man. This is why He is the pattern for all true men, who would learn to function in this life as God has always intended. Even after such a noteworthy day of miracles and exorcisms, Jesus did not wake up assuming He had everything in order, or that a new “healing ministry” had been established that would be carried on by yesterday’s events. Every day for Him was a day to be set before the Father, to cooperate with Heaven, in bringing the wisdom which comes from above to bear upon the earth in an intensely personal way.
The disciples came feverishly looking for Him. Their counsel was anti-sabbatical: “Everyone is looking for You!” What would your reply be to a statement like that? Most modern saints would be receiving that statement as we rolled out of bed, or while we were checking morning emails, rather than being found in a “secluded place, and praying there.” We have not sought the Father for our days, and that is why we are always being moved and jerked by shifting situations and the opinions of men.
Isn’t it remarkable that something so valid as continuing to minister to the ones who are “looking for you” can become a disobedience once you have learned to function as a priest? It’s not that Jesus was hard-hearted or loveless. Indeed, in the verses following He goes throughout all Galilee performing works, having been “moved with compassion.”
So why did He leave Capernaum, when there were likely others there in need of His touch? When the disciples interrupted His time of seclusion with a drama-induced clamor, “Everyone is looking for you,” His reply was the opposite of what their knee-jerk faith expected: “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” It’s not that the manner of His ministry in Capernaum was inferior to something He would do elsewhere. In fact, in the neighboring towns, He did exactly what He had done in Capernaum. The answer is simple, and it was Jesus’ mode of being, which we ourselves have been invited to come into:
“…. I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.
And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” -Jn. 8.28b-29
Have we come into this kind of union, or are we still dictating our days? Jesus is the great High Priest, unmoved by the spirit of this age and the clamoring of the nations, and He has paved the way for us to come into the same kind of prayer and obedience that was His own experience.
Are you fed up with laying your head down at night, wondering where the day went, and whether or not it was pleasing to the Lord? You must stop listening to the clamoring voices around you which say, “Everyone is looking for you.” “We must do this thing.” “We must go to this place.” “You must watch this show.” “You’ve got to surf the internet.”
You’re going to be required to rise early, find a secluded place, and pray to Your Father in heaven. Our lives are not meant to be congested and clogged up with an endless array of events, errands, occupations, hobbies, and entertainments. We are meant to hear the Father and follow the path He sets before us, being unmoved by the clamoring voices in our generation.
So how about it, saints? Have you found a secluded place today? Have you sought the face of Your God?