Because I kept passing the reduced speed limit sign yesterday, we were not able to move out of chapter 1 in Mark. I hope you were encouraged as much as I was to allow the truth of living a convicted life to simmer within our souls and be willing to allow God to bring it to a full boil in our lives. Today we will pick up where we left off and finish our day with Jesus.
Take a moment to read Mark 1:29-39.
Today Jesus leaves the synagogue and travels to Simon and Andrew’s house. James and John are with them. As they travel to the house, news about what Jesus just taught and did in the synagogue spreads quickly (1:28). When Jesus arrives at the house, the disciples at once tell Him Simon’s mother-in-law has a fever. Having just listened to Jesus’ teaching as well as watching him drive out an unclean spirit, what do you think was going through their minds? What would be going through your mind?
Jesus takes her hand, raises her up and the fever leaves. Her response? She begins to serve them. We do not even have to go any further to glean a moment of truth from her life. Think about it. When Jesus raises us up out of our own circumstances, illnesses, situations, etc., how do we respond to Him? Do we take His loving kindness for granted or do we serve and obey Him because of our love for what He has done for us?
In order to fully grasp this next moment, one has to recognize which day of the week Jesus is doing all of this. This is important not only for this particular passage, but we will also see the significance of this day of the week fairly often throughout the rest of Mark. Verse 21 tells us it is the Sabbath Day. A day set aside by God for the Jewish people to stop all work and honor Him. Another insight to consider is that in a majority of third world countries, only one “large” meal is served each day and typically this meal is mid-afternoon. Keeping this in mind you can picture how this day may have looked for Jesus.
He went to church, preached, cast out the unclean spirit, healed his disciple’s mother-in-law who then she served them (dinner?), and then they rested and visited. Of course, the Bible does not say that they rested or what they did until evening, but most Jews were diligent to keep the Sabbath Holy as commanded by God. Since they were not allowed to travel very far and there was no television, I just imagine Jesus visiting with Simon’s mother-in-law and the rest of the family.
For Jews, Sabbath begins on Friday at dusk and ends Saturday at dusk. This means that after the people left the synagogue to hear the teaching, they all went home, ate, and relaxed the rest of the day. They were not allowed to work which would have included walking to far, carrying certain things, and a multiple of other forbidden things on that day. This is important to remember because when we pick back up in verse 32, the sun is setting and the people immediately begin bringing Jesus all those who were sick and those who where demon-possessed (1:32). Remember news about Him spread (1:28), and you can just imagine how anxious the people must have been waiting for the sun to set so they could seek Jesus out and have them heal their friends and family.
Jesus, after resting on the Sabbath, begins to heal many who were sick with various diseases as well as drive out many demons. It does not tell us how late Jesus performed these miracles but it was probably late into the night since He didn’t get started until dusk. Despite Jesus’ potential late night, verse 35 tells us something profound.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there.” Mark 1:35
It is no secret that I am NOT a night owl. I very much like to get in bed at a reasonable hour and enjoy rising early to the quiet, peacefulness before the storm. So when I go to bed late, it is extremely hard for me to rise at my usual time and when I do, I am usually cranky the rest of the day. Therefore it is often easier for me to be more like Simon and his companions and sleep in before starting to look for Jesus. Do we not have the same tendencies as Simon and his companions who looked for Jesus at their own convenience?
On the other hand, Jesus’ example challenges me. Even though He probably went to bed late, before the sun rises, Jesus gets up, goes out, finds a deserted place, and prays. It is from His time with His Father that allows Jesus to continue in the will of God. While everyone else that morning woke thinking Jesus would continue His miracles in Capernaum (1:21), Jesus tells his disciples that He must go to other villages because that is why He has come (1:38).
Whether you have had a hard day today or if you have to stay up late tonight, I would encourage you to resolve now to rise before the sun tomorrow morning so that you can pray and spend time with your Father. It will be that time with the Father that will satisfy you for the rest of the day.
“Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14
Then, make your way to the church “synagogue” to where you can fellowship with other believers, be encouraged and be an encourager.
“And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25
Lord, help us to follow your example. Help us to rise early and spend time in prayer with God, our Father. Even though we may have a really hard day at work today or a late night tonight, help is to set our alarms and seek you first.