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  • John Bryant

Mark 1: 35-39: When Jesus Says No

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.


In the verses before this, Jesus had stationed himself at a house. And this house was crowded, all day and all night, with people who wanted to be healed. And the whole city gathered around him there. The whole city, the whole world, crowded around one small house. And what did Jesus do when the whole world gathered around him standing outside his friend’s house? He healed. He cast out demons. He helped people. He changed circumstances.

And then one day, before anyone wakes up, he sneaks out. And he decides he will not be the center of that world, either that day or tomorrow. He hides and prays. And when people finally find him, they want him to continue his ministry: the ministry of helping people, the ministry of changing people’s circumstances. Of changing their lot in life. It’s like they said, “Jesus, everyone wants you to stand at the center of the world, and make it better.” Make this world a place where people don’t die horribly. A place without tragedy. And make it happen for us.

And Jesus says, in that way typical to Jesus, “No.”

And he leaves this ministry of healing in this town, a ministry that would have kept the world coming to that door to have its problems fixed, and Christ leaves this place so he can preach.

In this moment, Jesus decides being heard is more important than healing.

And the question is, what can hearing do that healing can’t? What can be fixed with preaching that can’t be fixed with helping?

I wonder if Jesus healed someone with a terrible disfigurement, and then, when he saw they were completely healed, saw they were still disfigured. And why? Because he had not healed what they trusted.

What if he looked at the crowds of needy people, helpless, and thought, “No, something is wrong, this isn’t why I came.”

And I, laying at home these last weeks, sick with Covid, can wonder at a Christ like that. I would prefer that He heals, heals me, heals my family that is also sick with Covid. And Christ, so far, has not been the Christ who heals. And so who is Christ when He is not the Christ who heals?

He is the Christ who speaks. The Christ who preaches. And what can Christ do with my hearing that would not be done with my healing (instant healing)? Now, I can only wonder.

When someone heals me, then I have been helped. But I am still the point, I am still at the center.

But when someone speaks, and if I listen, then I am not the center. The Christ who Speaks is Center. And I am the one who listens. And this, apparently, is salvation. The salvation of not being the point.




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