Mark 1:35-39; Luke 4:42-44
First Things First
Today we take a brief passage, but one that is full of meaning, because it shows us a side of our Lord that we often do not consider. Jesus had spent the whole day preaching, healing, casting out demons, and, well, ministering to people’s needs. The passage gives the impression that people were coming from all over and pressing in on him, which was often the case with Jesus. One would think that by day’s end, he would have been exhausted. I imagine he was.
But tired as he might have been, Jesus does not neglect spiritual disciplines; specifically, to pray to his heavenly Father. The passage reads, “And rising early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” He did not sleep in from the busy day before. And though he was and is and ever shall be the Son of God, and though he had the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), he prayed to his Father. This reminds us that Jesus was ever in communion with his Father. It is also instructive for us concerning what we should be about. If Jesus rose early in the morning, even when it was still dark, to be sure to spend time in prayer, what should we be doing? The reason why the church in America is so weak is because too many of her members neglect basic spiritual disciplines as reading Scripture and praying on a daily basis. Indeed, if someone professes to be a Christian and does neither of these things, that person should examine himself to see if he be of the faith.
Well, when Peter and the rest found Jesus after a careful search (Jesus had gone to a “desolate” place, obviously wanting to be alone), they said to him, almost in reproof, “Everyone is looking for you.” No doubt, there were many more who wanted and needed healing. But Jesus refuses to allow that to deter him from his primary mission. Mark records him saying, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” Luke has it, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to other towns as well; for I was sent for that purpose.” Jesus knew both who he was and what he was supposed to do: he was the Christ of God, and he was to preach the good news of God’s kingdom – the kingdom that was breaking in through his very person and ministry. He was ultimately sent to redeem his people. Before his passion, there was much preaching to do, and he wasn’t going to let anything hinder that. Let us remember that praying to our heavenly Father and sharing the good news of the kingdom is of first importance. Jesus did. He always kept first things first.