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On your Mark

Somewhere else

Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else — to the nearby villages — so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1:36-39, NIV)

Picture the scene. It’s early Sunday morning in Capernaum. The previous day, on the Sabbath, Jesus had preached in the synagogue and delivered a demoniac, raised Peter’s mother-in-law from a bed of sickness, and after sundown stood in the street for hours while the sick and demon-possessed came to Him for healing and deliverance.

After only a few hours’ sleep, Jesus got up while it was still dark and went to a solitary place to pray. The disciples had slept in. When they wakened, people were already gathering again out in the street — so many, in fact, that when Simon found Jesus he declared, “Everyone is looking for you!”

At first it appeared Jesus had vanished. They looked for Him in the home, but He was not there. He certainly was not in the crowd that waited for Him. Normally, when a group of people looks for a lost person, they split up; but these disciples hung together for the search. They found Jesus in a solitary place.

Three years later, Judas knew exactly where to look when he led soldiers to Jesus in Gethsemane. Here, early in Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, they had not known where to look and it had taken them some time to locate Him.

But, in both Galilee and Gethsemane, Jesus sought out solitary places to pray. If Jesus knew He could not be effective without spending time alone in prayer with His Father, how much more do we need to follow His example?  When others go looking for us, would they ever find us praying? Or, would they always find us busy?

When they found Jesus, the disciples’ solution was for Him to remain in Capernaum and have a ministry that paralleled John the baptizer’s. John stayed in one place and people came out to him. Jesus wanted to model the lifetime vocation He would call Simon and the others to — a vocation that required the word “Go!”

No doubt Jesus could have had a vast ministry by staying in one place. Indeed, He may have reached as many people by being stationary as He did by being itinerant. When people are desperate for healing, they will go any distance. So long as Jesus healed and exorcised, the crowds would have remained undiminished. As a side bonus, Capernaum could have developed a nice tourism industry of hotel and dining accommodations, the sale of religious trinkets, and travel packages.

But, Jesus held the long view. What was needed in each community was His presence. Each village did not need to be vacated in order for people to go and find Him in a fixed spot at Capernaum. No, He would go to them. He would be in their midst.

There’s always a temptation in our lives to get stuck, to not venture out beyond the confines of what we know. But, is the Lord nudging you to get out of your familiar or comfortable routines and go with Him to some person, some place, some ministry you have never been before?

We follow the example of Jesus when we go.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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