READ: Mt. 4:13-16; 18-25; 8:14-17; Mk. 1:16-39; Lk. 4:31-44; 5:1-11
I’m thinking these passages will merit more than one post – I’ve been processing them since Wednesday! I can readily picture Jesus ministering in Capernaum. Steve and I had the blessing of visiting Israel a couple of times in the past 15 years. Capernaum and the general area of the Galilee was a huge favorite for me. We visited the ruins of the synagogue there and also what is thought to be Peter’s home and the site of a very early church. The home site sits near the shore of the Sea of Galilee. I remember grilled, open-air windows where breezes and sights and smells of the area permeate the atmosphere. Bougainvillea drapes every wall in Capernaum and smells of hot honeysuckle floated on the breeze. The town of Capernaum is not inhabited today and the ruins are quiet, probably a lot quieter than when Jesus ministered there. But that quiet transported me to a simpler time when the sounds of town would’ve been people’s voices, laughter, perhaps hammering or chiseling, etc., etc. I felt nearest to the reality of the time and place of Jesus in this town and in a quiet boat on the Sea of Galilee.
With all of these memories, I can picture the chaos of Jesus’ ministry in Capernaum. So many people have begun to follow him. And as he ministers healing from sickness and new freedom to those from whom he expels demons, his popularity grows. One passage that especially ministers to me is the story of Jesus going off to a solitary place to pray in Mark 1:35 and Luke 4:42. People are clamoring for him to the degree that the story in Mark says Simon and his companions went to find him and tell him that everyone is looking for him. Once again I see Jesus’ firm grounding in his mission as he replies “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” I can’t help but think back to the temptations in the wilderness and that siren call to immediate celebrity and recognition that Satan offered him. Jesus made it clear at that point that he listened to and served God only. And in the face of increasing celebrity and increasing demands for healing, he goes in solitary prayer to the God he serves and then returns with clarity about what to do next.
What a model for the life that wants to serve God and serve God only. No matter what or who is clamoring for my attention, I want to do that which God has for me to do.
Lord, thank You for this demonstration of the primacy and power of prayer. You saw such need all around you and when the needy saw your power to help, that needy clamoring increased exponentially. Thank You for prayer that led to strategy that protected the mission of God that you came to fulfill. Lord, daily remind me to say to you “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening!”