Mark 1:35-39 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. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘‘Everyone is looking for you!’’ Jesus replied, ‘‘Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’’ So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
Jesus got up early in the morning. People who love sleep don’t usually change the world. If we can’t even drag ourselves out of bed, how can we expect to move anyone else? Jesus didn’t walk with the Father when he ‘‘had the time,’’ or preach when he ‘‘had the time.’’ Instead, Jesus slept when he ‘‘had the time.’’ He knew he needed sleep, so he slept. But Jesus pushed himself hard. He was consumed with his purpose, and here he shows us his serious commitment to relying on and praying to the Father. Jesus was extremely eager for prayer, and he came out of his prayer times deeply convicted, focussed and ready for action. He came out with specific plans for his day and for the future.
Jesus saw his purpose very clearly. He knew that he was on earth to preach to the people of Israel. He also knew that he could not wander far from Jerusalem for he would eventually die in that city. Most of us live with only a vague idea of our purpose. Even those of us who are disciples of Jesus tend to accept a rather general description of our purpose—"to seek and to save what was lost"—without bothering to focus in on the more specific and personal purposes to which God may have called us. For example, what types of people has God best prepared us to share our faith with? What talents or experience do we have that can be developed and used for the good of the kingdom of God?
To best appreciate the significance of the outcome of this prayer of Jesus, we need to look carefully at the context. In contrast to the persecution he had met with elsewhere, Jesus had been well received in Capernaum. In fact, he was downright popular. He even had a house to stay in when he visited. It would have been very comfortable for Jesus to settle down in Capernaum and make disciples there. He could alter his original plan and base his operations in this more hospitable northern city rather than roaming around the countryside with frequent stops in Jerusalem, the city where they stone the prophets. But Jesus, in prayer, deepened the conviction that he had to stick to his original plan.
In the same way, in different areas of our lives such as our marriages, our jobs, and our personal ministries, we can be tempted to ‘‘lose the fire,’’ to settle down and get comfortable. Often as we grow older we begin to achieve some of our goals and we are able to attain some of the niceties that were always out of reach in the past. But these niceties, whether they be a spouse, children, financial independence, or the opportunity to invest our money, always bring complications. They tend to make focussing our hearts and minds on our ideals and goals more and more difficult. We come to laugh patronizingly at friends younger than us who are yet idealists, zealots and radicals. We amuse ourselves with the knowledge that they too will mellow with age, they too will become more balanced and level-headed, ‘‘sobered by the realities of life’’—or perhaps, more accurately, discouraged by the cost of change.
We, like Jesus, need time to refocus—preferably every day. For those of us who have a relationship with God, to whom could we rather choose to go for advice and wisdom, comfort and conviction? Jesus didn’t have a legalistic, putting-in-his-time relationship with his father. His relationship with God fueled his life.