|"Everyone Is Looking for You!"
October 3, 1999 / Mark 1:27-37
The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching Ė and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." News about [Jesus] spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simonís mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 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 ó to the nearby villages ó 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 1:27-37).
When you read the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus and notice the demands made on him, you marvel that he lived long enough to be crucified. How in the world did he manage to keep from wearing out, falling apart, throwing in the towel? As soon as he began his public ministry of gifted, authoritative teaching, people flocked to him ó each of them with questions to ask. Then he began healing sick people and driving out demons. His audience of scores turned to hundreds turned to thousands ó every newcomer wanting a favor. Crowds were around him all the time. "Everyone is looking for you!" He was misunderstood and misjudged. Some people thought he was crazy. And so far I have only talked about his fans, friends, and family!
If you check the Outline of Mark in your notebooks, youíll see that 2:1 begins a section on the "beginning of hostility in Capernaum" that is followed by a passage at 3:7 on the "intensification of conflict." Trying to do good and announce the kingdom of God, Jesus made enemies! At the end of the section starting at 2:1, Mark writes: "Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus" (3:6). From that point forward, Jesus could do nothing that pleased them. They criticized him at every move and made his life miserable. And you thought you had stress!
Yet Jesus was the most composed, controlled, and confident man who ever walked on Planet Earth. Stress didnít make him sick, take away his ability to be productive, or burn him out. He neither came unglued nor gave up because of his frustrations. How in the world did he cope? And can we learn anything from him on this point?
He Took Breaks
The first thing that jumps out from this text is that Jesus did what some people canít seem to do. He took breaks. He got away from his daily routine. He thought it was acceptable to relax, take some time, and enjoy life. Knowing full well that there were crowds of people with never-ending demands waiting on him, he got away now and then for his own sake.
Alcoholism is an addictive behavior that is no longer socially respectable. Nobody laughs at drunks anymore. But those of us who are workaholics are cursed to have a socially respectable addiction to our jobs. It is reinforced by visible productivity, praise, salary raises, etc. But it is still an addiction ó unhealthy and unspiritual.
Dick Vermeil used to be coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a textbook workaholic who hardly ever saw his family. He had a cot in his office and studied tape, thought game strategies, and coached players day and night. Then came the strike-shortened season several years ago when players stopped the NFL dead in its tracks. Vermeil didnít know what to do with himself. He was bewildered and lost. So one day his wife said, "Dick, letís just go for a drive through the countryside this afternoon."
As the Vermeils were driving down the highway, he turned to his wife and said, "Whatís wrong with these trees?" And she had to explain to him that the trees turned yellow and gold in autumn around Philadelphia. It began to dawn on a professional football coach that day that his life was out of balance! At the end of that season, he resigned. He told people he was burned out and needed to get a life. And thatís where any of us can wind up who donít know how to take breaks, keep things in balance, chill out.
The fourth commandment of the Decalogue says there is a balance between work and rest that we are supposed to observe. "Work six days of the week," Yahweh told Israel, "but take one day off for rest and recovery for your body and mind." In the old Soviet Union under Stalin, people were going to be made to work seven days a week in order to increase productivity. Productivity dropped. Many people became physically sick. Emotional exhaustion became commonplace. Tempers were short, and worker morale on farms and in factories was at an all-time low.
A few pages ahead in the Gospel of Mark, we run into this text: "The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ĎCome with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some restí" (Mark 6:30-31). Werenít there still people needing to be healed when he said that? Werenít there still demon-possessed children who needed to be released? Werenít there still people who needed to be saved? Yet Jesus took time to find a quiet place and renew himself.
Is there anything in your schedule more important than Jesus and the apostles were doing? Mother, your children need you! Dad, there are house repairs to make! Your career needs a boost. You have assignments looming. There are things to study. Yes, but if you donít occasionally break your routine to "get some rest" ó to borrow Jesusí words to his apostles ó you will be unable to do what needs to be done. Cemeteries are full of indispensable people.
He Spent Time With God
Scripture says: "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psa. 46:10). One thing Jesus did when he took time away from the pressures of his routine was to be still, meditate on his Fatherís will, and pray. No matter how busy he got, he always took time to pray. No matter how pressed he was, he prayed. And when things heated up to the boiling point on the night before his crucifixion, he was still praying. In telling his young pupil about Jesus, Peter called attention to his Masterís habit of spending time in reflection and prayer.
Mark wasnít the only Gospel writer to notice Jesusí habit of spending time with his Father in heaven. Here is what Luke writes: "Crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed" (Luke 5:15b-16).
Is it hard for you to "be still" before the Lord? When is the last time you sat still, alone, and quiet for just ten minutes? Can you even ride down the highway in your car without having a radio or CD blaring?
Hereís the way a day goes for most people. You wake up to an alarm clock and function in a state of alarm for the rest of the day! You listen to radio news about nuclear accidents, earthquakes, and Y2K readiness as you shower. While you dress, you turn on the TV and learn about the latest war, famine, and political scandal. Then you open your newspaper at the breakfast table and catch the headlines about murder, stock market problems, and business downsizing. As you get in and out of your car through the day, you listen to Rush, Dr. Laura, and other talk-show hosts agitate you with their topic for the day. And you wonder why youíre stressed out!
Suggestion: When you get up tomorrow morning ó and for the rest of the mornings through the coming week ó change your pattern. Turn off the alarm. Go to a private place with your Bible and spend no less than five and no more than ten minutes reading your Bible, reflecting on God, and praying. Get your One-Year Bible, and read only the Psalm or piece of a Psalm for the day, think about a key phrase or idea in what you read, and start your day asking God to go before you in everything that will happen. I guarantee it will change you ó lower your stress level, focus your heart, keep you closer to the will of God.
He Knew His Real Task
The disciples were startled that Jesus would pull away from the crowds, leave them looking for him, and pray in a solitary place. They were obviously shocked to find him so focused when they were so frantic. When they found him, here is what he told them: "Let us go somewhere else ó to the nearby villages ó so I can preach there also. That is why I have come."
Jesus had a singular mission to accomplish while he was on Earth. It was to preach the good news about the kingdom and to call people to take up their cross and follow him. He wasnít about to lose sight of that mission for the sake of drawing big crowds and creating a name for himself. He wasnít about to forfeit the important for the urgent. He had set his priorities and was not going to get sidetracked from them. How many people do you know who have learned how to focus on what is truly important?
A lot of us are frustrated because we canít distinguish priorities for our lives. Paul could say, "One thing I do . . ." (Phil. 3:13). To be honest, many people today would have to say this: "These 30 or 40 things I dabble in." The devil may not have you doing some terribly evil thing. He may simply be distracting you by having you spend all your time on things that donít amount to much.
Itís all right to say no to someoneís request on your time. There is no moral law requiring you to answer the phone when it rings during dinner. You donít have to champion every worthy cause. Trying to do a few things well is far more realistic than getting so many irons in the fire that you constantly have blisters on your hands!
Why donít you join a small group for Bible study, prayer, and support rather than gripe that you just canít know everybody in a church this big? Why donít you find one ó just one ó ministry of this church and devote yourself to giving God glory through it rather than half-heartedly dabbling in six or eight or ten? Why donít you begin praying for, building a relationship with, and trying to lead to Christ just one person over the next year ó rather than lamenting that there are so many lost people in the world?
I happen to believe that life cannot be stress-free ó and shouldnít be. You need stress in your life to add challenge, flavor, and opportunity to your existence. Whether you need stress or not, you have it! So the question is how to manage it so as to make it work for you rather than against you.
Gary Carr tells the story of Chippie the parakeet. Chippieís not-too-bright owner decided to clean his cage with a vacuum. She had stuck the nozzle in to suck up the seeds and feathers at the bottom of the cage when the phone rang. She instinctively turned to pick it up when ó sswwwwwpppppp! Chippie got sucked in! The lady gasped, let the phone drop, and switched off the vacuum. With her heart in her throat, she unzipped the bag.
There was Chippie ó alive but stunned ó and covered with heavy gray dust. She grabbed him and rushed to the bathtub, turned on the faucet full blast, and held Chippie under a torrent of ice-cold water, getting him clean with a power wash. Then it dawned on her that Chippie was soaking wet and shivering. So she did what any compassionate pet owner would do: she snatched up the hair dryer and blasted him with hot air.
Did Chippie survive? Yes, but he doesn't sing much anymore. He just sits and stares a lot. It's not hard to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over! It's enough to steal the song from any stout heart. And life will do its equivalent of that to you, unless and until you learn how to cope with all its pressures.
Jesus knew the secret. His was not a carefree life absent of stress. He simply knew how to deal with it by taking occasional breaks from the pressure, maintaining constant communion with his Heavenly Father, and keeping his priorities focused. If you want to be Christlike in your lifestyle, you need to follow him down the path of enjoying life and embracing it with a healthy rhythm and sense of balance ó so you can still sing as you make the journey.
provided, designed & powered by|