Thursday, December 22, 2016

Keeping Sight of Our Purpose

Mark 1:35-45

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

The night before, Jesus had healed a number of people.  the next morning he got up long before daylight and went out to spend time alone with God in prayer.  He realized that even he as a human being could not continue to be a light unto the world without being spiritually refilled, just a s lamp needs to be refilled with oil if it is continue to give light.  Unfortunately, many religious leaders become wrapped up in ministry they neglect their own spiritual health, believing they can glean enough from the time they spend in teaching and praying with others. 

In Matthew 6:5-6, Jesus commanded, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”  Just as it is impossible to maintain a strong marital relationship without spending time alone with our mate, it is impossible to maintain a strong spiritual relationship with God without spending time alone, talking with him.  If Jesus found it necessary, it is pretty arrogant for us to think we don’t need to spend time with God. 

“And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.  And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.

And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.  And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.” (Mark 1:36-39)

Peter and the others were concerned that everyone was looking for Jesus.  Jesus pointed out that he had other aspects of ministry to deal with as well.  He needed to go into the surrounding towns to preach as well.  His ministry was not limited to healing the people in Bethsaida or Capernaum who were wanting his attention.   He was sent out to reach out to all of Israel, and demonstrate the power of God. 

And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.  And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.  And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” (Mark 1:40-44)

One of the most common mistakes in Christianity today is the focus on relieving physical suffering.  While Jesus healed many sick, including the leper in this story, the healing was secondary.  The primary purpose was and is to make people understand that Christ is the Messiah, the Savior who can take away our sin.  Jesus specifically instructed the Leper not to talk about his healing, but to go and follow the instructions in the law.  Those who knew the man would soon see the physical results. 

“But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.” (Mark 1:45)

Unfortunately, the man focused on the physical results, calling so much attention to the physical healing Jesus could no longer come into the city and focus their attention on the spiritual needs of the people.  He was forced to go into the desert, far enough away that many of the sick could not come in order to teach them the more important things.  While our work should have a positive impact on people’s earthly life, we must never forget our primary focus is preparing people for eternity.  Feeding the home-less, healing the sick, or helping alcoholics and drug addicts to escape addiction won’t count for much if they spend eternity in hell.  It is easy to get so caught up in doing good things we neglect the most important ones.  

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