Bible Passage: Mark 1:35-39
This is a short passage and can be easy to pass over, but it is pivotal for the course of Jesus’ ministry. At the time, Jesus was experiencing a lot of success in Capernaum and new opportunities were opening up for him, and it would have been possible for him to stay there and do a lot of good. Rather than jumping at the opportunity, Jesus chose to go out early and pray, and as he spent extended time with the father he emerged with clarity that he should move on to the next places and continue progressing his mission in that way.
Prayer: The heart of this passage is about prayer. Whilst we are not given lots of details about how Jesus spent his prayer time, it is made clear that this was a priority for him. He got up before dawn and went to a place where he would not be distracted. Often we can try to ‘squeeze prayer in’ amidst the business of life, but on this occasion Jesus made sure he was in a place to focus on the Father. Evidently he continued for a long time as the others worried about where he was and went looking for him. It may not be that every time we pray it is at such length, but it is good to build extended times of prayer into our lives. It was during this time that Jesus heard from the Father and found clarity over what his ministry priorities should be.
Mission: The result of Jesus’ time with the Father was a pivot in his approach to ministry. Despite things going well in Capernaum, Jesus was clear that his purpose was not just to build something big in one place but to proclaim the gospel throughout Israel, so he left for the neighbouring places and went throughout Galilee preaching and casting out demons. The mission of Jesus has always been to spread the gospel to new places, and we have been commissioned to be witnesses to the ends of the earth. As Jesus’ followers today, we should always be looking at how we reach the next place, not just the place where we currently are.
- Challenge people about their own prayer life. How could they build habits that follow the example we see from Jesus in this passage?
- Perhaps you could also create a bit of time in the meeting for people to listen to God and discern what he is guiding them to do?
- Point people to the mission. This could be a good moment to cast vision for your next church or site plant.