Mark 1:21-39 – The Power of King Jesus on Display

Jesus’ authority and strength came through prayer. Note that Mark makes a connection with Jesus’ power over illness and evil with prayerful seclusion; being alone with his Father. That is a consistent pattern with Jesus when you read the gospels: he prays alone, he prays at night, he prays at times of crisis and before big decisions; he prays all night before he chooses the twelve disciples to be apostles; he prays alone at night after the execution of his cousin, John the Baptist; and lastly, he prays at night in the garden of Gethsemane, agonizing with his Father over what is to come. Here, when he turns to his Father, the crisis is the clamoring, shallow and superficial response of the people of Capernaum. Their only interest in him is how he can heal them and what he can do to make their make their lives better.
This is not what Jesus had in mind. We see, for the first time in Mark’s gospel, but certainly not the last, that the disciples don’t understand his mission. The people in Capernaum are looking for him because of the miracles, not because of his teaching and message. But here, the disciples also have been swept up into the frenzy, wanting to accommodate the recent surge in popularity.
Jesus’ resolve to move on to other towns comes from understanding his ministry: “I came to preach the gospel of God” (v. 15). Jesus’ purpose was not to heal as many people as possible, but to speak truth, to confront them with God’s claim on their lives. For Jesus, truth-speaking took priority over physical healing. But his confident authority in making this decision to move on and continue his preaching didn’t come from him. It came from his heavenly Father.
Jesus stresses this because he wants his disciples to understand that we live out our Christian life in exactly the same way he does. In the intimacy of the upper room during the last Passover meal the night of his betrayal, he tells his disciples:
“Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:12, 13)
That is why Jesus was alone with his Father in the wilderness. He was praying for direction and he was praying for empowerment as he planned to go to these other towns in the region to minister. What was true for Jesus is certainly true for us. For Jesus, prayer was as necessary as breathing. And although God knows all of our needs, praying for them changes our attitude from complaint to praise, and enables us to participate in God’s personal plans for our lives. That’s why Jesus prayed and that’s why we are called to the same kind of intimate dependence on our heavenly Father.

Doug Goins

Read Mark 1:21-39. Do you see the vitality of prayer and preaching to the ministry of Christ? What is the integral piece between prayer and preaching? How does our ministry look different than one filled with prayer and preaching? Why is that?

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Posted on: October 26, 2017 - 10:00PM

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