On Saturday mornings I have the great pleasure and true honor of meeting with a small group of sister disciples. We are blessing one another, as we work our way through the Gospel of Mark. My thoughts on chapter one fastened onto this:
Jesus could no longer openly enter a town,
but was out in desolate places (Mk 1:45b).
Jesus went out into desolate places because of the crowds who wanted healing.
The incessant demands of the people drove Jesus out of their towns. Away . . . away from their presence. Because He was kept from doing what He was there to do.
Was Jesus a Miracle-Worker? Yes!
Did He perform healings? Yes!
But He didn’t come to perform miracles. That wasn’t the purpose of the Incarnation. That’s not primarily why He came. They did serve a purpose—especially in revealing His heart, His authority, and identity. Jesus has that power . . . that mercy and compassion.
But, when “everyone was looking for Him,” to the point that it became a distraction from His purpose, Jesus moved on to other regions (Mk 1:38), but He didn’t enter their villages (Mk 1:45). He stayed outside of their towns.
They could have had Jesus!
He could have been there. Within their walls. He could have been near. With them!
They could have listened to Him . . . learned from Him. Sat at His feet.
Like the Samaritans. For when He stopped at Jacob’s well, and met the Samaritan woman, she went back to the town and invited the people to “Come, see” the Messiah (Jn 4:29).
Jesus entered their town . . . their company. He spent days with them (Jn 4:43). Inside their walls. Because they wanted to listen to Him. To hear His message.
They did not drive Him out with their demands.
They wanted Jesus near. They wanted Jesus.
The clamoring crowds, however, denied themselves the blessing of Sychar. Because their expectations prevented Jesus from accomplishing the will of the Father. The precise—and supremely good—will He came to do.
At times I have felt that my selfish demands were such to drive Jesus away. Thinking, if He only knew the ugliness in my heart, He would choose to move on. Well, He does see. And He knows our hearts—intimately. Better than we do ourselves. But He is not put off by them. He still loves us. And longs to be near.
We must keep in mind that Jesus was on a loudly ticking clock. His time was limited. His mission was God-sized. And, pre-resurrection, He had the physical limitations of His human body to enter but one village at a time.
But these verses in Mark, chapter one, drove me to go deeper. To ask hard questions—precisely what the Word is meant to do.
Do I want the blessings of Jesus . . . more than Jesus?
Is my faith one that values Jesus more than His blessing? I’d love to rush to an easy yes. And yet, if I were to be completely honest, I would find the answer to that question in my prayers. What do I pray for most? Do I pray more for the healing of others? Rather than the saving of others? For wellbeing, rather than the Word being preached? Isn’t this an indication of the priorities in my heart?
Can my selfish expectations keep Jesus at a distance, hindering Him from accomplishing the will of God? And keep Him from doing the good work He longs to do?
The answers to those hard questions are dependent upon whether we are in Christ.
It is possible to deny Jesus access. To reject Him. Walk away.
But the glorious news for those in Christ is that He is covenantally committed to you. We have the great consolation of knowing that He is near—patiently abiding . . . preserving and persevering. For the Lord has said:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty
That doesn’t mean every Christian will know healing here and now. But that doesn’t keep us from calling Him Lord and Master. From praying for healing. Believing He can. And knowing He is near—even in our lowly and afflicted state.
We rightly hold onto the hope that a Day is coming when all will, in fact, be miraculously healed. All of Creation. Made new.
When the multitudes will remain in the presence of the Lord . . . forevermore.