Summary: Every super hero has a secret strenth and a hidden vulnerability. Jesus, the only real superhero, has a strength to help guide Him in every situation and a vulnerability that each of us should possess.
Every superhero has a secret to their great strength, and a hidden something that some might call a vulnerability. For the Green Lantern it was the special ring he wore that gave him the ability to form things out of nothing; for Superman, Kryptonite was the only thing that stopped his superhuman strength. These stories, of course, are mere echoes of the greatest superhero story ever—one that is totally true—our super action hero: Jesus Christ. There was a secret to Jesus’ ability to do anything He wanted, and also a hidden secret that moved Jesus to do things that later hindered Him.
In the previous verses we have seen Jesus reach out and heal all the sick and demon possessed that came to Him at Peter’s house in Capernaum. It was a wonderful day of seeing the kingdom of God reach out and take hold of the victims of the kingdom of Satan and free them of sickness and possession by evil forces bent only on violence and destruction. Day stretched into night and still they came until the group finally lay down to sleep, I’m sure full of the wonderful scenes of healing they had witnessed. But now watch carefully what Jesus does.
“Very early in the morning” means the third watch of the night, or 3:00-6:00am. It was still dark. It doesn’t say it, but I’d assume that since the healings of the last evening didn’t even start until after the sun had set, that the event probably went on into the night. Perhaps around 3:00am everyone went to bed, exhausted, but Jesus headed out the door, without anyone knowing it. It wasn’t that He was unhappy with the accommodations and wanted to check into the Marriott Capernaum or something—no, He knew of something even more important than sleep, and that was communing with His Father.
We don’t know what He prayed but Mark is pretty specific about Jesus’ actions: He “got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place.” Jesus removed Himself from other distractions and relationships so that He could concentrate on His relationship with His Father. I think that it is fair to assume that Jesus prayed for direction. As we’ll see in a moment, the demands of urgent ministry were about to be pitted against the strategic plan of His life.
Mark records Jesus praying at three different occasions: here, in chapter 6 after feeding 5,000 people, and before His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the first two instances, huge success in public ministry had just been accomplished. Both here and in chapter 6 Jesus prays and then sends He and His disciples in a different direction, removing them from a follow-up to the success.
This kind of thing runs counter to every success-guru out there. It may have been a constant temptation to Jesus to take a short-cut and fashion a popular movement. But Jesus was not about popularity or doing what others demanded of Him. He was about one thing—fulfilling the Father’s mission of dying on the cross.
So the first lesson from this section is simple yet vital: get up, get out, and get praying for strategic direction in your life from your Father and especially when you have had success being used by God. The dangers we face in ministry come not primarily in the “failures” (though I would submit there is not failure when you heart seeks to do His will) but in the apparent successes. Do you take time before time takes you to seek the heart of God and reset the GPS for the next strategic move?
36 – 39
It seems plausible that word of the healings had spread even further and that the demands of the evening past were now turning into the opportunities of the present. But as I’ve often said, the presence of an open door does not mean you have permission to enter. The disciples were new at all this stuff and they seem a little miffed that Jesus would step away and be somewhere they didn’t know. It was just the beginning, really, of Jesus acting in ways counter to what they expected because He had come to be a Rescuer in a way they simply could not comprehend.
“Everyone’s looking for you” they exclaimed—meaning “why’d you run off when there’s work to do?” In response, Jesus does just the opposite and says “let’s move on, right now!” In fact, the phrase “let’s go on” could suggest that Jesus had already left and was perhaps just waiting for His disciples to find Him. Returning to bask in the accolades of healing would seem the logical thing to do, but not the right thing. That’s something we must often struggle with as well. The question we must ask ourselves, and ask God in prayer is: “what will bring you glory from my life today and into the future?” In this case the thing that brought the Father glory was to have the Son continue to preach the gospel because short term healing without salvation is meaningless. Really, short term anything without salvation is meaningless. Though not an excuse to without aid to those hurting—we must always at some point keep the gospel in mind.