They accused Him of being a glutton and a winebibber, of being born
illegitimately and casting out demons by the power of Satan. But no
one ever accused Jesus of being busy or unapproachable, uptight of
Our culture values busyness. In our society, the busier one is,
the more important he is. But in reality, deep within our hearts, we
know that barely making it here, narrowly making it there is not the
way life was meant to be.
Jesus moved in serenity and tranquility —
opposite of what we value in our society, but what we desire innately.
How did He do this? As I read Mark’s Gospel, I am increasingly
convinced that Jesus’ life focused on three things . . .
The Father’s Will
In talking about His relationship with His Heavenly Father, Jesus
said, ‘Truly I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but
what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these
also doeth the Son likewise,’ (John 5:19). ‘I’m not doing My own
thing,’ Jesus said. ‘I’m not pursuing My own pleasure, toying with My
own hobbies. My life is about one thing: What I see and hear the
Father doing and speaking. My own will? I have none.’
This was seen nowhere more clearly than in the Garden of
Gethsemane, when Jesus prayed, ‘Father, if it be possible, let this
cup of My suffering pass from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Thy
will be done,’ (Mark 14:36).
The Father’s Heart
Regarding His earthly ministry, Jesus was able to say, ‘I always do
those things which please the Father,’ (John 8:39) — not simply
keeping His commandments and following His instructions, but pleasing
It’s one thing if my kids obey me. But it’s something altogether
different if they hear my heart and want to please me. That’s the way
Jesus was. He heard His Father’s heartbeat.
The Father’s Time
‘Son, they’re out of wine,’ Mary said, implying He do something.
‘Mine hour is not yet come,’ Jesus answered. ‘This isn’t the right
time,’ (John 2:4).
‘Lord, come quickly,’ Mary and Martha said. ‘The
one you love is sick,’ (John 11:3). Yet Jesus wouldn’t go until the
time was right.
He waited for His Father’s timing before moving in any
direction. What did this do? It freed Him completely from every other
We feel frazzled because we’re always trying to figure out,
‘Should I do this? Should I go there? We see opportunities open before
us, and we think that because we’re busy, we’re accomplishing a lot.
But so does the chicken running in circles whose head has been cut
off. People who don’t know any better might look at him and say, ‘Wow!
Look at all he’s doing. He’s really living.’
In reality, however, he’s in the process of dying because he’s
disconnected from his head. So too, when you and I lose contact with
our Head, Christ Jesus, watch what happens. We’ll run here and sprint
there; do this and attempt that — but although the world may applaud
us, in our hearts, we’ll know something is inherently wrong.
didn’t do this. There was a tranquility and a serenity about Him
because He was focused intently on one thing singularly: pleasing His
When I wake up every morning, I don’t have to go through
mental gymnastics or philosophical acrobatics concerning the question
of whether or not I should brush my teeth. No, as did most of us, I
decided a long time ago that I’d brush my teeth every morning. And
because of that, I don’t spend my day thinking about the question of
doing so. The same should be true of spiritual disciplines.
people think the practices of Christianity are legalistic and
confining. Not true. They’re freeing and liberating, for concerning
whatever we say, ‘This is a non-negotiable priority in my life,’ we
are free from wondering if it will fit into our schedules.
winner of the all-city handball championship in Portland was unusual
because, at 37 years of age, he was relatively old for a handball
champion. It was also unusual because he didn’t start playing the game
until he was 35. But more unusual than his age or his newness to the
sport was the fact that as a Vietnam vet, having lost his right arm,
he played handball with only one hand. When asked how he had won, he
pared his answer down to one word: Decisions. ‘Every time the ball
comes towards my opponents,’ he said, ‘they must decide right hand or
left hand. I, however, am absolutely sure which hand I’m going to use.
There’s no debate.’
I like that! When you simplify your life concerning certain non-negotiables,
you no longer ask, ‘Should I pray this morning? Should I go to Bible
Study on Wednesday?’ Should I be in church Sunday night? — for the
decision has already been made.
The question then arises, ‘How do we
discern the will, time, and heart of God?’ Watch what Jesus does in
our text . . . After teaching the multitude in Capernaum, after
healing the sick, and casting out demons, Jesus rose early the
following morning to pray.
Meanwhile, His disciples realized that
everyone was looking for Him. In my imagination, I hear them saying,
‘Wow! Good job, Jesus! You came through perfectly! Everybody wants You
now. Now You can establish Your Kingdom — in a beach town no less!’
But Jesus said something remarkable when He said, ‘Let us go into the
The word translated ‘town’ is an interesting Greek word
which in all of the New Testament is used only once. It refers to an
un-walled town — a town with no protection, no identity, but rather
just a place on the map. Thus, Jesus was saying, ‘Let’s leave Surf
City and go to Cow Town.’
This amazes me. I mean, if, as an athlete
with aspirations to make the pros, you heard that the 49’ers and the
Seahawks, the Giants and the Royals all wanted you, would you say,
‘What an answer to prayer!’ or would you say, ‘Let’s get out of
If, as a businessman, you realized every corporation in the
career of your choice was on the phone saying, ‘Please come and work
for us. We need you. Name your salary,’ would you disregard their
Didn’t Jesus come to reach people? Didn’t He come to establish
the Kingdom? Wouldn’t it be wise for Him to take advantage of the
publicity and the opportunity in Capernaum? Wouldn’t this be a great
moment for ‘Christianity’?
Why would Jesus leave Capernaum? The answer
lies in the second half of verse 38: ‘for therefore came I forth.’ As
G. Campbell Morgan points out, the place from which Jesus came was the
solitary place of prayer (verse 35). As He talked to His Father, Jesus
was given direction for the day. Thus, even when demands were placed
upon Him or seemingly good opportunities opened before Him, He wasn’t
How often you and I get detoured and distracted by hearing,
‘All men seek for you.’ We spend time talking about a ‘great
opportunity’ and pursue it — only to find we’re tired. Not so with
Jesus. The will of the Father, the timing of the Father, the heart of
the Father directed Him to go to the un-walled cities that day. And
that’s what He did.
The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should
know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth
morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
Morning by morning, Jesus was awakened to hear the directions of
His Father that He might know now to speak during the day. If Jesus
needed to pray day by day by day to hear a word, to gain direction so
that He might move in priority and peace and serenity — how much more
Not only is prayer communion with God, but it is also a
commandment from God. At least 200 times in the Scriptures the command
to pray is given. Thus, prayer is not a suggestion. It’s a command.
Why? I suggest two reasons . . .
Because life is oh, so short, our Father has a very big job to do
in the 70, 80, or 90 years we’re here in order to teach us the
language we’ll be speaking for eternity — the language of prayer.
it because doctors are mean and brutal that they spank babies upon
birth? No. Babies come out of closed environment into a whole new
world in which they must breathe immediately. Time is limited. So
doctors spank them — causing them to cry out and breathe in. Mission
So too, our Father must get us breathing and
communicating. So He spanks us. ‘Why are You doing this, God?’ we sob.
Then we inhale. And the process begins in which we are being prepared
for the environment of eternity in which prayer is the language
spoken. Because our ability to serve in the next billion years depends
upon how we communicate with the Father this side of eternity, He
says, ‘I’m going to have to send you through some difficulty from time
to time in order that you will cry out to Me and learn about prayer —
for that is the only way you will be prepared for the ages to come.’
And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
The Lord not only prepares us for eternity through prayer, but that
He partners with us in prayer. This means that the relationships we’re
developing, the kids we’re parenting, the places we work will not be
blessed without our partnering with the Lord. He has chosen to use you
as a partner in what He desires to do.
This article appeared this week in the San Francisco Chronicle . .
Dateline: Johannesburg. A couple saved a 7-day-old puppy from the
belly of a python after they heard a faint yelping inside of the snake
and forced it to cough up their pet, a newspaper reported yesterday.
Magda and Henny Botha were quoted as telling the Star newspaper that
they heard their terrier barking frantically outside its kennel on
their farm 15 miles west of Krueger National Park. When they rushed
outside, the python was curled up inside the kennel. The puppy was
gone, but they heard faint yelps from inside the snake’s stomach.
Botha said that while his wife held the snake by the tail, he shook
the head up and down and rubbed its bulging stomach. The snake’s jaws
gapped and out came the puppy. Mrs. Botha massaged the puppy’s chest
and moved its front legs until it began to breathe again.
A man and his wife partnered together to free a little puppy. I
don’t mean to be cute, but I see a real parallel with what we’re
called to do. I hear the faint yelp of people in Jacksonville and
Grants Pass, people who are trapped by the devourer, the serpent, the
devil. They’re caught up in all kinds of stuff, deceived by what the
world has to offer. And here’s our Hero, Jesus Christ, Who will take
the head of that serpent and begin to shake it even as Genesis
foretold He would (Genesis 3:15).
Our job, then, as His Bride, is to
join hand in hand with Him, binding the work of the enemy, allowing
our families and our communities to be free. Do you hear the faint cry
of people caught in the grasp of the enemy?
Will you say, ‘Yes, Lord, I will partner with You through prayer,
through intercession, with a focus in my life and a determination in
my heart to obey You’? If that be our heart, if that be our prayer,
our lives will begin to take on the peace and purpose, the stability
and tranquility, the flavor and focus of Jesus.