Jesus moved on Mark 1:29-39

The visiting lay-preacher has had a marvellous Sunday. A day full of blessings with many miracles of healing and deliverance. The gospel has been preached with power. The whole town is queuing up to see and hear more. What would you do next? Book him for a summer season? Call him to be your minister? Set up a revival committee with sub-committees to oversee follow-up and plan an extension to the church building? I am sure those are the things the crowds in Capernaum would have been looking forward to.
In fact none of these things had any part in Jesus’s plans. He did the very last thing we would think of. Jesus moved on. He went away. He left the crowds disappointed and his followers astonished and went on somewhere else. “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (v 38)
This simple decision Jesus made to move on shows us a number of principles: some are particularly relevant for people in full-time Christian service as ministers or missionaries, but others apply to every Christian in our everyday Christian living and our witness to the world.
Jesus controlled his own ministry. He didn’t just respond to needs as they arose. He had his own agenda. Jesus controlled his own ministry despite pressure from his disciples.
36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
There are always tremendous pressures from within the church on Christian ministers and missionaries, outreach workers and youth workers. There is never a shortage of advisors suggesting how they think he or she should be exercising their ministry. Always lots of jobs people think should be done “when you’ve got a minute.”
Then there are also the pressures from the world around. We read in Luke’s version of these events, Luke 4: 42 The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.
When Jesus fed the 5000 in John 6 we read, 14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself..
Jesus always resisted all these well-meaning pressures from his friends as much as from the world around. Jesus knew what He had come to do.
(v 38) “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Jesus knew why He had come. Not just why he had come from Nazareth to Capernaum, but why he had come to earth, Son of God, Son of Man. Jesus knew what his mission was and he was not going to be deflected from it. Mission is being sent – and the father had sent the Son with a job to do. From start to finish Jesus’s ministry had purpose. Jesus’s ministry had direction.
Next week I am planning to say some more about what it means to be a minister or a missionary and I will explain that “ministry is not rendering a service but becoming a servant.” Ministers and missionaries are servants, and indeed all Christians are servants. But we aren’t primarily servants of the Church. We are all servants of God, to do the work HE has sent them to do. Not just responding to needs and circumstances, not just fire-fighting. But playing our assigned part in building the church of Jesus Christ, not just redecorating and papering over cracks.
The heart of Jesus’s ministry was to call people to decision.
Mark 1:14 Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
Jesus came to call people to repent and believe in him and to follow him. In that ministry Jesus did not have a carefully designed strategy for follow-up. He simply trusted God to take care of his own. And any minister or missionary needs that same faith in God. The work of ministry is never done. There will always be loose ends. Things we won’t be able to do. We need to learn to trust in God so that, when we have done what He has sent us to do, we can leave the rest to God and move on to whatever is next. What would you do next? Jesus moved on!
Not just for Ministers and Missionaries but for every church and indeed for every Christian as we seek to serve God in the Church and in the World. In deciding to move on, there are at least three very human ideas which Jesus completely ignores.
The first is “the need constitutes the call”. We can all find ourselves rushed off our feet responding to all kinds of needs and opportunities. Our lives can be controlled by the tyranny of the urgent, so that the important things get squeezed out. Here in Capernaum Jesus deliberately turned His back on some needs to go elsewhere to heal and preach to others. He didn’t try to meet every single need. His priority was to do the will of his Father – to meet the specific needs God wanted him to meet. And then move on. At this point Jesus’s priority was preach to other people who had not heard the Good News of the Kingdom yet.
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
Jesus sowed the seed as widely as possible, so as many as possible could hear and respond.
Sometimes we try to do all God’s work for him, instead of finding out which part of that work he has for us to do and which parts we should leave to other people.
1 Corinthians 3: 5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labour. 9 For we are God’s fellow-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.
There are so many needs. But we really do not have to do everything! We need to recognise that sometimes God might want to meet some of those needs through somebody else! Our church doesn’t have to do everything. There may sometimes be some things that God can accomplish through some of his other churches. It isn’t all down to us!
This leads us to the second very human idea which the world follows but which Jesus ignores here. “Never leave a job unfinished”. “I’ve started, so I’ll finish.” Now that is true in the sense that if God gives us a job to do we should do it with all our might until it is fully completed. But that idea is mistaken if it means we end up ploughing on in the same old thing when God has actually shown us He wants us to move on to something new. Sometimes God will call us to set aside some well established activity or some successful sphere of service, sometimes because it isn’t working but at other times simply because God ‘s will is that we move on to something else. Sometimes sticking to what we know and what we are good at is just an excuse for avoiding fresh challenges. Perseverance is only a virtue if God wants us to be persevering.
And there is a third very human idea which Jesus ignores here. “Keep on while the going’s good.” Or it could equally be expressed, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” We often judge the success of what we are doing by its popularity. By how many people are coming. “How great a temptation that report of the disciples would have been, “Everybody is looking for you.” I have talked before about this “age of measurement” and how we need to resist the temptation of only assigning value to those things which we can measure. Size isn’t everything. How popular something is or how enthusiastic people are about it are not usually very good guides as to whether something is actually God’s will or not. Jesus Christ dying the death of a traitor and blasphemer on the cross was a success in God’s eyes even though sacrifice isn’t a very appealing or popular option in human terms. In my own life, if I had followed the maxim, “keep on while the going’s good” I would never have given up doing chemistry to become a teacher. And then I would never have left being a teacher to answer the call to ministry. The only important thing for any of us is to be doing what God wants us to do. And there in Capernaum – Jesus moved on.
So how did Jesus know for certain what His Father wanted Him to do? How can we be sure we are doing what God wants?
THE PRINCIPLE FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING for all of us all the time
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.
It is so simple. And so vital. If Jesus Christ the Son of God needed to go away to a solitary place and pray from time to time – how much more do we need to pray.
Notice that Jesus prayed very early in the morning. It is good to start the day with God and end the day with God even when we would much rather be in our beds sleeping. Early in the morning while it was still dark. That would be inconvenient, in many places in those days that would even be dangerous. But Jesus still made the time to spend with God in prayer.
So he went to a solitary place. We like to surround ourselves with noise. But deep communion with God requires silence. Prayer which is not so much asking but much more listening.
What was the secret of Jesus’s powerful preaching? It was PRAYER!
If we want to be clothed with power from on high, power to be witnesses for Jesus, we need to pray!
What was the secret of Jesus’s signs and wonders? It was PRAYER!
If we want God the Holy Spirit to bring healing and deliverance in our midst, we need to pray!
How did Jesus know what God wanted Him to do next? It was PRAYER! If we want to find God’s will and God’s direction for our lives, we need to pray!
I’ll say it again. If Jesus Christ the Son of God needed to go away to a solitary place from time to time to pray – how much more do we need to pray.
Jesus never did what other people expected or demanded. Jesus always did what His heavenly Father wanted.
John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
John 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
John 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.
That little parable of the Son, the apprentice, points us to the Son who learns from His Father how to do what the Father wants Him to do.
Jesus prayed. He heard what His Father wanted Him to do. And then He obeyed! 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
Here is the secret of Christian ministry and of Christian service. Here is the fundamental principle for the whole of our Christian lives. We need to find out what God wants us to do and then we need to be obedient. Whatever that may cost us. Whether it is what other people expect or the exact opposite of what they expect. However unpopular that may make us or however unsuccessful we may then appear in human terms. Prayer and faith. Trust and obey.
It really is that simple. In our lives each one of us needs to hear from God what HE wants us to be doing. Not trying to meet every need – just to meet the needs God lays on our hearts. Not afraid to leave a job unfinished if God calls us to move on to something new. Not mindlessly keeping on while the going’s good. But praying to discover where God is leading us next. Jesus prayed. And then he moved on. And as a church together we need to hear from God what HE wants us all to be doing. And then we just need to obey.

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