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

CONTEXT John the Baptist is done. He Baptizes Jesus and boom, the Man that would save the world begins a 3-year walk toward His cross. Jesus’ ministry has officially begun and boy does it start out with a bang. If memory serves me, Jesus immediately calls a few fishermen to be His world changers and then things really ramp up as Jesus casts out a demon and heals Simon’s (soon to be Peter’s), mother-in-law. He does this right out in the open, publicly. Now that we have some context, let’s read the text again, but a couple verses prior to verse thirty-five:

Mark 1:32-34 And at even, when the sun did set, (Night time) they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

Ok, without getting too far in the weeds, I want us to notice the small things in these two verses, the things that us longtime Christians are tempted to overlook if we’re not careful. So much is in the small things of scripture. I don’t know why God made it that way, but He did and it’s a beautiful thing. For me, the meat of the word- the best cuts- take a little more effort, but I find them most often hidden in the context and the context’s sweetest bites in the little things of scripture. With that in mind, notice it’s nighttime and that the whole city has found out where Jesus is staying; they’re standing outside His door. I can’t help but shake my head. It’s bedtime and a whole city has come out to be healed by this healer that they’ve heard about. It’s a little funny, but can you blame them? Think of the most credible person you know. Now, imagine that that person comes running to you and says that a man in town just straight up healed my mom! That is what is happening here. Jesus’ ministry has barely started and already, people are flocking to Him. Translation? Jesus was up all night long healing people and casting out demons. Now that is one heck of a way to start a ministry. It isn’t too long after this that the scriptures tell us what I really want to hammer out on the Forge today. Back to verse 35 it says:

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

So, what did Jesus do to recharge after healing people and casting out demons all night long? He spent alone-time with God and prayed!! For all of you students of scripture out there, don’t forget that Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days before all of this happened as well. Remember? He was tempted by the devil, ministered to by angels and I have absolutely no doubt, that Jesus was praying. So… this amazing, all-night ministry time was sandwiched between two times of unhurried time with God. In other words, Jesus was alone praying with God before the event and Jesus was alone praying with God after the event. Unhurried time with God… Just so you know, like most things on the Forge, this convicts the fire out of me. One of the most difficult things for me to do is to sit “unhurried” before God. I’m always in a hurry. Amazing…Jesus had a whole world to save. I guess He had to start somewhere but man, a single town seems too small a goal now that I think about it. But that is the gem in the context, right? He didn’t get overwhelmed. He didn’t start a world-saving committee to vote on the best global saving strategy. Where do we find Him? Over and over again we find the Son of God continually seeking unhurried moments to steal away with His Father. There’s a pattern! Remember the small things? It might not look like much, but Jesus is for certain showing us a pattern here. Alexander MacLaren says, “We cannot think of Christ too often or too absolutely as the object of faith; and as the hearer of our cries; but we may, and some of us do, think of Him too seldom as the pattern of faith,…” What Alexander is saying is, we as Christians tend to see Jesus as the object of faith but seldom remember that He is the pattern of faith. This is huge and painfully true for me. Which is easier, to worship someone (the object of faith) or follow someone’s example (pattern of faith)? When I was studying this, I believe God impressed upon me the phrase, “Pay attention to the pattern!” What did Jesus do to accomplish His Father’s will? Friends, there is a pattern! Right in the middle of Jesus’ insane schedule, fielding questions from confused disciples, and manifesting miracles (feeding 5,000), Jesus stops the machine again. And Chapter 6 tells us why!

Mark 6:46 And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.

There it is again; the same exact thing! Jesus sought unhurried moments alone with His Father, just the two of them. And just so we’d understand the weightiness of these moments, the pattern emerges yet again right before the most intense moment in Jesus’ life and ministry—His crucifixion. Only 8 chapters later the scriptures tell us,

Mark 14:32 And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.

Of course, Jesus comes back, only to find His disciples asleep, and you know the rest of the story. Again and again, Jesus spent unhurried moments in the presence of His Father. He protected these moments like they were priceless. In fact, He stopped everything to have them. He left His friends, stopped eating, stopped sleeping and even stopped His miracles to sit unhurried in the presence of God. No matter what Jesus accomplished, He ended up in the same place—in the presence of God. What does this mean for us? What does this say about our accomplishments? Ugh… for me, what comes next is a hammer blow to my ego, but a shaping one as well. Accomplishments- there are few places hotter in the Forge for me than this. A man, even the most-humble, will somewhere, hidden deep down inside, stretch a tape across the years of his life and measure his entire worth by his accomplishments. I’m not saying to accomplish is evil. I’m saying the pattern of Christ has awoken a notion in me. It hit me, on a plane ride home, in the form of a “what if” question. It came out something like this:

What if the greatest accomplishment in life is to be in His presence; to look at His presence as an actual accomplishment—as the accomplishment?

What if I changed the pattern of my thinking to embrace this pattern, the pattern of Christ? What if the greatest triumph in life is not position or power, but communion? Could I suggest that the High King of Heaven will never really be known among the low treasures of ambition? We must set our eyes higher, toward the greater peaks of faith, where holiness veils secret walks and secret talks, where Jesus stole away every chance He could to go there. We would do well to follow Him, you know—to drop the heavy tape of comparison and find that our highest aim is accomplished in the beautiful, unhurried pattern of Christ.

How can we, the people of God, ignore what the Son of God would not live without?

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