Sermon Summary • Feb 5, 2017
Mark 1:35-39 • Pastor Tim Tseng
KEY POINT: Prayer is the prelude to your greater purpose!
In today’s scripture, Jesus got up in the morning, while it was dark, and prayed in a solitary place (v 35). Was he trying to get away? After all, the day before, he had been preaching, healing, driving our demons all day and all night long in the town of Capernaum (v 34).
I imagine that he might have felt exhausted by attending to and serving so many people. I often feel spiritually and physically drained when I connect with people constantly. So getting up early makes sense to me. No one else is up. I can be alone with God and recharge. Even though the bible doesn’t speak clearly here, Jesus likely woke up early to get closer to God and to recharge.
But let’s take a closer look at this text. If we ignore the rest of the passage we may think that prayer is only about feeling better. So why did Jesus really get up so early to pray?
The key lesson for us is this: Prayer prepares us to enlarge our calling. That is, prayer helps us discern our true purpose and mission in life.
In verses 36-37, Simon and his companions found Jesus and exclaimed “everyone is looking for you!” In the parallel story in Luke 4:42, “The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them.” Jesus was doing great things for the people of Capernaum, so everyone wanted him to stay.
But staying in Capernaum was not what God wanted. Jesus responded that his purpose was to preach the good news in nearby villages, too (v 38). During his morning prayer, God made clear to him that his mission extended to other towns in Galilee and Judea. Without this time alone with God, Jesus might have been tempted to stay in Capernaum where he was needed. But prayer helped Jesus affirm that God had bigger plans for him.
What can we learn from this?
First, without prayer, it is easy to fall prey to peer pressure. Everyone wants you to do this or that. Teachers and parents want you to do so many things to succeed in your studies. Young adults face the pressure of achieving success in order to be validated as adults. But peer pressure distracts us from the most important questions in our life: What is God calling you to be? What is God calling you to do? Where is God calling you to serve?
Second, without this type of prayer, we are tempted to domesticate Jesus. Like the people of Capernaum, we want Jesus all to ourselves. We want him to benefit us while ignoring God’s bigger picture. For example, if parents don’t connect to God’s bigger purpose, we’ll only seek to protect our kids from the world. We forget that God especially wants us to prepare our kids to engage the world that Jesus came to save.
Third, prayer alone with God helps us clear our minds and souls so that his will can come first in our lives. Time alone with God helps us battle the darkness around us and allows us see clearly the light that will wins the day.
In the end, time alone with God prepares us for a bigger purpose in our lives. Without it, I would have given up on my doctoral studies just to meet the needs of my home church in Brooklyn and family. But after much time alone with God, it was clear to me that he wanted me to be a witness in the academic world, an “other” village that also needed Christ! So I gave up my position as a pastor, became a seminary professor, and left my extended family in New York City. And it has been good! So, will you open you minds and hearts and lives to God’s bigger purpose in your life? Then go to God alone and pray like Jesus did!