Saturday, September 20, 2014

"For this purpose I have come forth..."

"But He said to them, 'Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth." - Mark 1:38

The Gospel of Mark was the first of the four gospels to be written. There were probably bits and pieces written about Jesus' life before but this gospel is very likely the first thing the early church had to read that covered the full ministry of Jesus. Later Matthew and Luke are believed to have taken Mark's Gospel as a starting point when they wrote their own, expanded accounts of Jesus' life and ministry. With that in mind Mark jumps right into action describing multiple events right in the first chapter. He writes about John the baptist and how Jesus came to him to be baptized. Then how Jesus was tested by Satan in the wilderness and then immediately jumps into several miracles and deliverances performed by Jesus.

In verse 35 the story takes a slight turn. Up until then we see that Jesus helps everyone who comes to Him to the point that the whole city was gathered together and he healed many and cast out many demons. But in verse 35 Mark records that Jesus rose long before daylight and found a quiet place by Himself to pray. In the midst of all this action, the entire city is coming out for Him to minister and Jesus sneaks away to be by Himself. Even His closest disciples didn't know where He was as in verse 36 it says that Simon and the rest of the disciples had to search for Him. Once they did find Him they immediately reminded Him that there everyone was looking for Him. 

Many times I feel that pastors and ministers today are looking and waiting for just this kind of moment. We strive to get to the point where people are seeking them out for their ministry and we feel that once people do seek us out we have to oblige because it is an 'opportunity from God'. However Jesus' response is very different.

"But He said to them, 'Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth." - Mark 1:38

Can you imagine? Jesus had multitudes, the entire city, seeking Him out; people were in need, there were sick people and probably still people possessed or oppressed by demons trying to find Him to help them and Jesus says, "Okay let's move on." And His reason? Because of His purpose: "...for this purpose I have come forth." He recognized that His purpose was not to be stuck in one town but to move and travel and preach. Notice He didn't even limit Himself to singular 'town', He said let us go into the next 'towns'. He knew that He was there first and foremost to deliver a message to the people of Israel, all the people of Israel, and His healing and deliverance ministry had to work itself around that purpose.

I don't think it is an accident that this revelation came after Mark records that Jesus found Himself a place alone to pray. This is where we find our purpose, in our alone time with God. We need to regularly make it a point to find quiet, alone time with God. Regardless of how many kids we have, or how busy our schedule is we need that time. Sometimes we have to get up "a long while before daylight". Jesus found the time to do it and He literally had an entire city pressing Him to minister to them. 

Once we find our purpose we need to make it our priority, even if it means turning down great opportunities to minister. We need to keep our focus on what God has called us to. What does He want me to do? Sometimes it takes faith because we can't see how that purpose is going to be fulfilled but we can trust that if God called us to do it then it will happen.

When I was reading this scripture I felt a confirmation in my spirit that this is also the purpose that God has called me to. God has called me to preach to "the next towns", He has called me to travel and preach. At this point I don't know exactly how that is going to happen. I don't have entire cities or churches seeking me out, but I believe that God will work it out.

What is your purpose? Have you neglected it to take care of other needs?

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