Jesus’ Purpose

Posted: August 12, 2013 in Mark

Mark 1:35-45, “Jesus’ Purpose”

Purpose brings clarity.  Individuals that have purposed themselves towards certain goals understand what they need to do (and avoid) in order to achieve those goals.  Someone who desires to run a sub-4 hour marathon is going to have different priorities than someone who wants to win the annual July 4th Nathan’s hot-dog eating contest. When a group or organization knows its mission, then it becomes easier to discern the difference between things that are optional or essential, or that should just be avoided altogether.  As a church congregation, we have a mission to love God, love each other, and love the lost.  (Great Commandment – New Commandment – Great Commission.)  If a program or event comes up that doesn’t fit into one of those areas, then it’s an easy decision to avoid it.   

Jesus had a specific purpose, and He knew it well.  He prioritized the things that would help Him fulfill His purpose, and sometimes encountered things along the way that slowed Him down.  What Mark shows us at the end of Ch. 1 is an example of this.  The snapshot of one day’s events comes to a close, and Jesus is steadfast in His determination to do what God the Father had sent Him to do.  Jesus had a purpose to preach the gospel, and He has the power to back it up!  As He goes about doing it, He comes across a situation in which He never once veers from His purpose, but He does encounter a bump in the road and a well-meaning recipient of His grace gets in the way of the ministry.

How does it all begin?  With prayer. 

Mark 1:35–45
35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

  1. Please note that Jesus prayed.  “Big deal.  He’s the Son of God. Of course He would pray – it’s easy for Him.”  Keep in mind that Jesus in His incarnation is just as much Man as He is God (100%/100%).  Jesus has many of the same struggles as any one of us do (and in fact, far more struggles than what any of us ever experience because He IS the Son of God!).  He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.  Because prayer can often be a struggle for the Christian, we can know that Jesus faced some of these same difficulties.  What are our excuses?  “I’m tired – I’m distracted – I’ve got other things to do, etc.”  Think about what Jesus had just gone through in the last 18-24 hours.  He had ministered to all kinds of people all day long on the Sabbath.  First He had gone to the synagogue and preached (which carries its own form of exhaustion afterwards) – He had encountered and cast out a demon there – He healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever afterward – and by the time evening had rolled around, people had come from all corners of Galilee with their demon-possessed and sick.  Who knows how late Jesus stayed up that night ministering to those who came?  It would seem doubtful that any who came that night in faith left there without being touched by the power of Jesus.  Surely after all of that, Jesus was exhausted.  Did He need sleep – was He tired?  No doubt.  Did He have people needing His attention & other distractions?  No question.  Did He have much to do?  Yes, yes, and yes.  But over and above all of these things, what Jesus needed most was to spend time in prayer.
    1. There’s always an excuse as to why we can’t pray, but what would happen if we made prayer as much a priority in our lives as Jesus did?  What is it we miss out on because we do NOT pray?
  2. When did He pray? “In the morning” – scholars note this seems to be a reference to the 4th (and final) watch of the night.  Jesus woke up long before daylight (perhaps even 4am) to go to prayer.  (Keep in mind this is long before the days of alarm clocks & wake-up calls!)  Jesus made an effort to go and pray.  It was a burden upon Him to do so, but He did what needed to be done to ensure He could do it. … If we’re being honest with ourselves, sometimes prayer is a burden.  It takes effort & work.  A quick 10-second prayer asking God to bless our lunch is no big deal (45 seconds if you’re around other people J), but to truly spend time in prayerful intercession can be difficult.  Our minds begin to wander, and we’ve got to set aside time in our day to do it, etc.  What we need to understand is that prayer is worth the effort.  People don’t pray because people tend not to see the value in prayer.  What we value, we spend time & resources on.  If we truly recognized the value of prayer – if we saw prayer as Jesus sees it, we might have difficult time staying away from prayer.
    1. Because Jesus prayed in the morning, does that mean we should only pray in the morning?  Of course not.  Jesus also prayed at night in the Garden of Gethsemane – He prayed in the open public when He raised Lazarus from the dead.  There is no legalism in Jesus’ own prayer life, and there’s no reason to expect it in ours.  There’s no question Jesus had a priority on prayer, which is demonstrated through His morning prayer, but that is not the only time of day to pray.  When should we pray?  Always, at all times!  (Pray without ceasing – 1 Ths 5:17)
  3. With whom did He go?  No one.  He was alone – in “a solitary place.”  The word used here is actually the same word translated “desert/wilderness” elsewhere.  IOW, Jesus didn’t merely go find a corner outside of Simon’s house – He travelled a ways off to some place truly alone.  Knowing that people would soon look for Him, He went somewhere that He knew He would not be disturbed for a while.  Again, there is a priority on prayer here because He wants dedicated time with the Father.
    1. There is a time for corporate prayer, and there is a time for solitary prayer.  We ought to take advantage of all the times we have as a church body to come together in concerted prayer, but we ought not neglect the time we can spend alone either.
  4. So we understand that Jesus prayed, but it all seems to beg the question of “why.”  Why does Jesus (God the Son!) pray?  Since He is God, doesn’t God the Father already know His heart? (Yes – just like He knows ours.)  As God the Son, doesn’t Jesus already know how His Father will answer?  No doubt.  If all that is true, what would be the actual point to Jesus’ praying?  Several possible reasons – here’s three:
    1. Fellowship with God.  As God the Son, Jesus has a relationship with God the Father and God the Spirit that is unequalled.  There is love & relationship within the Trinity, and it only makes sense that they spend time in prayer.  Jesus often went away to pray (Lk 5:16), though the words of His prayers are rarely recorded for us.
    2. Submission to God, as in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Mt 26:39,42)  Jesus humbled Himself when He came as a man, and part of His ongoing submission is seen through prayer.  In Jesus’ prayers, He did not assert His own will (though He certainly expressed His desire); He prayed (in part) to help submit Himself to the will of the Father.
    3. Testimony to us, as at the tomb of Lazarus. (Jn 11:42)  Jesus knew that the Father always heard His prayers, but not everyone who surrounded Jesus did.  The skeptics believed that Jesus was in opposition to God, yet still somehow able to do miracles.  Yet when Jesus prayed and called upon God prior to raising the dead, there would be no doubt that God the Father agreed explicitly with everything Jesus did.  It was a testimony to all around.
    4. Keep in mind Jesus still prays today.  The Bible is clear that Jesus lives to continually make intercession for the saints (Heb 7:25).  IOW – right at this very moment (and at all moments), the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God is praying for every single born-again believer.  He’s praying for you & me right now.  Whatever the reasons are that He prays, we can praise God that Jesus DOES pray!
  5. For how long did Jesus pray?  Scripture doesn’t tell us a specific time-line, but obviously He was gone long enough to be missed by the others.  Jesus rose while it was still dark, and no doubt as everyone started waking up later in the morning, people noticed He was nowhere to be found.  See vs. 36…

36 And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. 37 When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”

  1. The word used for “searched” actually is a bit more intense than what comes across in the English.  The Amplified puts it this way: “And Simon Peter and those who were with him followed Him [pursuing Him eagerly and hunting Him out].”  Peter and the others woke up, saw that Jesus was missing & they went to go hunt Him down.  Obviously there was no reason for Jesus to tell the others where He was going (He is the LORD, after all!), but there’s something nice in the urgency in Simon Peter’s search.  Scripture does not go into detail as to all of his motivations, but it would seem he understood this much: Jesus wasn’t there, and he needed Jesus!
    1. Do we have that same sort of motivation?  Do we live in that same sort of reality with our Living God?  How badly do we need to be in the presence of Jesus?
  2. The one thing we DO know about Simon Peter’s motivation is that he came (partly) on behalf of others. “Everyone is looking for you.”  There had been much ministry the previous night, and apparently the line was starting early in the morning.  People wanted the healings and demon exorcisms to continue.  There was more to do.  (There’s always more to do!)
  3. That may have been Simon Peter’s plan for Jesus, but Jesus had something else in mind…

38 But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”

  1. For all of the people who had been searching out Jesus looking for healings – for all of the surely desperate needs that were represented back in Capernaum – Jesus had something more important to do.  He had spent time in prayer, and that helped prepare Him to continue the primary “purpose” in His ministry: preaching the gospel.  Jesus had a specific purpose from God – He needed to preach.  Jesus certainly did continue to heal & cast out demons (as we’ll see), but these things weren’t the reason Jesus came to earth.  There’s no doubt that these acts of grace and power validated Jesus’ identity as the Son of God – there’s no doubt that His healing were tremendous demonstrations of His love towards us and were incredibly valuable aspects of His time.  But those things were not the primary thing on Jesus’ mind.  That wasn’t His purpose.  His purpose was to preach the gospel of the kingdom.
    1. People so often miss this when they think about Jesus.  They want the “Hippie-Jesus” – the guru who taught peace & love & merciful compassion.  Or they want the “Social-justice-Jesus” – the revolutionary who makes all men and women equal.  Or they want the “Signs-and-wonders-Jesus” – the healer who does miracles and wonders everywhere he’s known.  And without all of the name-calling, there’s no doubt that Jesus did do aspects of ALL of these things.  He did teach love – He did show the need for reform – He did do all sorts of miracles.  But He cannot be narrowed down to these things – He cannot be contained to these categories.  Jesus’ own stated purpose was much bigger than all of this.  Jesus came as the Humble King, prepared to sacrifice His own body for the sin of His people, and to reconcile Mankind back to our God.  And He came specifically to proclaim this fact.  He came to preach the gospel of the kingdom, and the “gospel” is the good news about Jesus Himself.
  2. Knowing this was Jesus’ purpose – how would He fulfill that purpose if He remained in Capernaum doing nothing but healings & exorcisms?  Were there people who were still sick?  Yes – but all over Galilee (and all of Judea) there were people who were still lost, and they needed to hear the gospel.  People needed to hear, so that meant Jesus needed to go to them.
    1. People still need to hear the gospel…and we are the preachers!  Jesus’ purpose and message hasn’t changed; only the method of taking the message.  People all around us are desperately lost & they don’t even realize it.  They are comfortable living their lives, giving no thought to what will happen tomorrow, much less in eternity.  They have no idea what awaits them beyond the grave, and what they do believe is often totally false.  Even in areas saturated with churches (such as East Texas!) people still believe that good people go to heaven, bad people to go hell, and we’re all generally good people anyway & God will ignore all of our vices.  And people will go on believing those falsehoods until someone comes along and tells them the truth.  Jesus has given that responsibility to US.  WE are the preachers who continue to preach the good news of King Jesus, and we are the ones that need to go to them.

39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.

  1. So apparently that was it.  Jesus said He needed to go to the neighboring villages, and they went.  Mark gives a summary statement here (breaking away from the chronology of that one specific Sabbath day) to show what Jesus started doing beyond Capernaum.
  2. Notice Jesus did not stop “casting out demons.”  Nor did He stop healing.  These were things that He continued to do – He just did them in various places as the need presented itself.  What Jesus was known for in the area was two things: preaching the kingdom, and proving through displays of power.
  3. OK – so we understand the kingdom needs to be preached.  But proven?  When Jesus the King shows up, certainly He brings miraculous power with Him.  After all, wherever the King goes, His kingdom goes with Him.  It’s no wonder that He cast out demons everywhere He went and healed the people the way He did.  The only thing that would be curious about that is if He didn’t heal people!  But what about today?  Our King still lives, and we are still citizens of His kingdom.  Can we still expect to demonstrate that kind of kingdom power?  To put it simply, the answer is “Yes!”  Of course, the kind of demonstration of power might not be exactly what we expect.
    1. God still does miraculous demonstrations of power today, and yes, He uses individuals within His church to do so.  This is part of what we see in the spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit empowers some people to speak words of knowledge, others to experience a gift of healing, others to prophesy, to give, to lead, etc., according to the various lists of spiritual gifts in Romans 12 & 1 Corinthians 12. These gifts come directly from the Holy Spirit to individual believers within the church for the benefit of the whole church (1 Cor 12:7).  That’s not to say that all of the reported instances of miracles are true miracles of God – there is much deception and abuse that goes on in the name of Jesus Christ.  However, Scripture makes it clear that God can and does empower His Church for the work of the ministry.  We need to believe the Scripture for what it clearly says.
    2. Some of the demonstrations of power we see today might not be what we would normally think of as “miracles,” but they are miracles, nonetheless.  When two former enemies reconcile because of Jesus after years of conflict, that is a result of the supernatural work of God in their lives.  When a Christian forgives a tormentor for crimes against him/her simply because Jesus had forgiven them, that’s a work of the grace of God.  One of the best examples is salvation itself.  Anytime someone is born-again, they move from death to life – and there’s no way that can be labeled anything BUT a miracle!  Jesus demonstrates His power in miraculous ways every single day.
  4. Mark goes from the general to the specific.  In the process of Jesus preaching the kingdom, and proving it through works of power, we get a very specific example along the way.  See vs. 40…

40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

  1. This is a desperate situation – in fact, it’s about as desperate as one could get at the time.  The actual disease the man had is unknown.  There is a disease known today as leprosy (Hanson’s disease), but the ancient term was used for all sorts of skin ailments.  If it was truly leprosy as we know it today, the man would have basically been considered a dead man walking.  In the eyes of the culture, he was as good as dead.  Incurable, unclean, contagious to all – he would have stayed away from the public, calling out to those who might be near, warning them of his diseased presence.  Leprosy was as bad as a disease physically as demon-possession was spiritually.  Aside from physical death, things just couldn’t get any worse.
  2. It’s with all this in mind that this man approaches Jesus.  Notice several things here:
    1. Desire.  He is in desperate straits, and he comes to Jesus with a desperate appeal/attitude.  NKJV says that the leper was “imploring” Jesus – the word could be translated “begged / beseeched / urge / plead, etc.”  This was no half-hearted request.  This was not something that he could live or die without.  This was something that truly mattered to the man, and the only hope that he had was found in this Man, Jesus.
    2. Reverence. Whether the leper actually understood Jesus to be God in the flesh is uncertain – we don’t know enough about the situation to truly analyze his theology.  But there’s no doubt that the leper respected Jesus enough to kneel before Him in his urgent appeal.  The word used here is not the normal word used for worship, Mark’s description shows the man falling to his knees (rather than on his face).  Matthew’s description does use the word for “worship.” (Mt 8:2)  Whatever the case, there’s no question the leper revered Jesus and fell before Him.
    3. Faith.  The leper knew that Jesus could do it.  He does use an “if,” but the “if” is by no means a lack of faith.  Jesus’ ability is never in doubt for this man; the only question is one of Jesus’ will.  As long as Jesus might desire to see this man clean from the leprosy, Jesus had the power to ensure it would happen.
  3. How this leprous man approached Jesus is highly instructive to us as to how we ought to approach Jesus in our own prayers.
    1. Desire.  We need to be careful on this point, because it would be wrong to think that just because we want something bad enough, God will somehow grant it.  False doctrines & new-age authors teach that we just need to desire something urgently enough, to visualize it in our mind, and act as if it will come true, and it will.  That’s categorically false, and has nothing to do with Biblical teaching regarding prayer.  OUR will can’t make anything reality; only God can do that.  That being said, we have to acknowledge the idea that our desire does matter when it comes to prayer.  Sometimes it seems that we expect God to care more about our prayer requests than what we do.  So many of the things we take to God in prayer we bring with a lackadaisical “take-it or leave-it” attitude.  Why would God answer that kind of prayer?  If it doesn’t matter to us, why should it matter to Him?
    2. Reverence.  Just because something matters to us does not give us the right to boss God around, and start barking out orders that we expect to be obeyed.  God is still God, and Jesus is still our Lord & King.  Because of His grace, we can have the boldness to come to God in prayer at any time for any reason – we can come with the loving relationship as a true child of God – but we cannot come with our demands thinking that God is somehow obligated to do what we want just because place a “claim” on certain things.  We come with reverence, respect, and worship, recognizing God always to be sovereign.
    3. Faith.  Do we believe that our God is able to answer?  Not a half-hearted belief that just checks off the right “Jesus” box on our Sunday school lesson – but a REAL belief in which we know beyond doubt that as long as God speaks the word, it WILL happen.  The apostle James wrote against half-hearted wishy-washy faith, describing it as being like a wave driven by the sea and tossed by the wind (Jas 2:6).  Our God is the Creator God.  There is nothing impossible for Him.  When God wills something to be, it will be.  Do we believe this?
  4. Again, all of this comes down to whether or not Jesus was willing.  What was Jesus’ wish – what was His desire in the situation?  When God wills something, mountains can be moved, and dead people come to life.  There’s no question of His ability, but what was His will?  Jesus answers that Himself…

41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.

  1. Jesus WAS willing, and the man was cleansed!  An amazing work from the amazing Son of God!  Just as there were several aspects about the leper’s approach of Jesus, there are several aspects about Jesus’ response.
  2. Jesus felt compassion.  The one word used for “moved with compassion” is the same word used when Jesus felt compassion upon the multitudes because they were like sheep having no shepherd (Mt 9:36), or when He saw that the multitudes had been with Him for three days and had nothing to eat (Mt 15:32).  Jesus did not reserve this kind of compassion for multitudes, but He felt it for individuals, as well.  The word speaks of a movement in His inner being – literally having His bowels yearn for the man.
    1. It’s difficult to overstate the amount of grace that is demonstrated in the fact that Almighty God is moved with compassion towards His creation.  There is no obligation for God to even pay attention to us at all.  We are but miniscule creatures in His almost-infinite creation – one of 6 billion+ humans currently on earth, dwarfed in number by the other animals that God also created.  Not only that, but we are in rebellion against Him every time we sin.  Not only do we not give God any reason to take notice of us, but we actually give Him reason to ignore us!  But God doesn’t ignore us…He actually goes so far as to feel for us.  This is grace!
  3. Jesus acted in compassion.  Not only did Jesus feel for the man, He acted in His compassion – and not only in the healing (which actually comes in a moment).  The compassionate action is shown in His touch.  Think about it: how necessary was it that Jesus would touch the man?  Not at all.  This is the God who spoke creation into existence.  Jesus merely needed to will the man’s healing, and he would be healed.  The touch was completely unnecessary from a physical healing point of view.  And yet He did it anyway.  Who knows how long it had been since anyone had touched this man?  It would have been illegal to do so, due to the contagious nature of leprosy.  And yet Jesus touched him, not fearing the disease, nor breaking the law (since Jesus was fulfilling the law even as He moved).  Jesus literally reached out and acted with the compassion that He felt in His heart for this man, no doubt providing far more than mere physical healing.
  4. Jesus spoke in power.  Out of the two other accounts of this event from Matthew 8 and Luke 5, only Mark records the detail connecting the man’s healing with Jesus’ word.  Jesus healed many people with a touch, but it this specific healing took place with Jesus’ statement.  Jesus spoke of His will, He pronounced the man clean, and he was!  We’ve seen other instances of the authority of Jesus’ word, and it’s demonstrated here as well.  When God speaks, He has the authority and power that goes with it.  His words are never in vain.
  5. Jesus’ healing was immediate and total.  The man was completely cleansed!  All disease had left his body.  All damage caused by the months or years of leprosy had been restored.  Everything that had once been unclean about this man was now reversed at the word and touch of the Savior.  Jesus had cleansed him totally!
  6. What a picture of the power of Christ to forgive sin!  Leprosy is often used in the Bible as a symbol of sin.  Like sin, it affects someone from the inside-out – like sin, it spreads – like sin, it brings death – like sin, there is no human cure – like sin, it leaves us unclean in the sight of God, completely defiled…and like sin, only a miracle of God can cleanse us.  That’s what Jesus did for the man, and that’s what Jesus does for everyone who comes to Him in faith asking for cleansing from the spiritual disease of sin.  He will completely and totally heal us from the eternal damage of sin, making us clean and holy in the sight of God.  And as with the leper, all we need do is come to Jesus in faith!

43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

  1. There are a few instances of Jesus telling someone to remain quiet about the things Jesus revealed or did, and it is always curious.  After all, Jesus came to preach the gospel of the kingdom, so He was proclaiming how the kingdom had come because the King had arrived in fulfillment of prophecy.  He was basically preaching about Himself.  He wanted people to recognize Him as the Messiah, the Son of God.  So why would Jesus command a few people to stay silent?  And there’s no question that this is a stern command from the Lord on the matter – the word used for “strictly warned” carries the idea of the snorting of a horse, and was used to express strong emotion.  This was a firm command from Jesus.  Why?  There are a few possible reasons:
    1. Jesus did not want to be known primarily as a healer, but as the Messiah. The existence of people appearing to be miracle workers was not unknown – some of whom were known in pagan areas (Simon Magus, Acts 8).  No doubt Jesus’ true healings would have set Him apart from the rest, but that was not how Jesus wanted to be known.  He did not want people to look to Him only for a healing & then go their own way.  He wanted people to look to Him for the truth, because it was the truth that would set them free. (Jn 8:32).
    2. Jesus needed to control the timing of His message.  There would be multitudes following Jesus around soon enough.  He would reveal Himself to all the nation – but He would do it in His way, and His timing.
  2. In this case, Jesus tells the man the specific reason why He didn’t want the former-leper to say anything: the law needed to be fulfilled.  The King of the Jews healed a Jewish man of a disease dealt with in the Jewish law.  There were very specific instructions regarding this (Lev 14), and Jesus wanted them fulfilled.  The word about the man would spread quickly when the healing was acknowledged; what this would do would be to document the healing according to the law of Moses, and serve “as a testimony” on the matter.  The priests would examine the man, pronounce him clean, have him received back into the community, and perform sacrifices on his behalf showing that God had also seen him as clean & undefiled.  The former leper would even undergo some of the similar ceremony that the priests themselves had undergone when being anointed for the priesthood, having the blood of the sacrifice put on the man’s right ear, thumb, and big toe (Lev 14:14) – showing that he was completely covered in the blood of the sacrifice, and completely cleansed by God.  This would have been a very public testimony to the healing that God had provided, and God would receive the glory not only through the miracle but through the fulfillment of His perfect law.
    1. What’s interesting about the Jewish law regarding leprosy is that there is so much written about it, but there are only two cases of divine healing from leprosy recorded in the OT.  To be sure, there were other minor skin diseases that would have been treated the same way as leprosy – but when it came to what was considered the true walking death, Biblical instances of healing are extremely rare.  There was Miriam the sister of Moses (who had been given temporary leprosy as an act of discipline from the Lord – Num 12:10), and Naaman the Syrian (who was healed of his leprosy by Elisha the prophet – 2 Kings 5).  No Jewish male is recorded of having been healed from leprosy (not even King Uzziah!) until the appearance of Jesus.  It would seem that all that was written in the OT law was written specifically to point to the work of the Messiah.  It was so rare that when it DID happen, it was something that would testify greatly to the glory of God.  (And Jesus didn’t just heal this one leper; He did it time & time again!)
    2. What’s true regarding the law of leprosy is true regarding ALL of the Bible.  All Scripture ultimately points us to Jesus – the whole book is about Him.
  3. Not only would there have been testimony to the people, and testimony regarding the law of God, but there would have also had been testimony to the priests.  After all, they would be the ones to personally examine the leper (whom they would have originally pronounced unclean), and they would be forced to admit his cleansing.  That has profound implications considering their opposition to Jesus.  If the man had gone to the priests the way that Jesus had commanded him to have gone, then the priests would have had incredible testimony by their own examination that Jesus had performed incredible healing by the power of God.  They would have had to testify against themselves in order to make the decision to send Jesus to His crucifixion.
  4. Of course that’s not what happened, and the man disobeyed Jesus…

45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.

  1. There’s no indication at all that the man ever went to the priests, but rather just went out and told his friends.  It would seem that the law was just ignored in this case, and there was no public examination.  Although there was testimony that spread about the healing, it wasn’t the testimony that Jesus had desired, and although the man surely had good intentions, his actions were actually detrimental to the progress of Jesus’ ministry.  Look back to vs. 38 – Jesus had desired to “go into the next towns.”  His desire at this point in His ministry was to be able to walk into town, preach at the synagogues, and where there were instances of healing along the way, great.  And Jesus seemingly did it for a time, but after the actions of this man, He could do it no longer.  Being in the region of Galilee, if the man had gone down to Jerusalem to show himself to the priests, he would have been gone several days if not weeks for the journey.  But now the opportunities that Jesus desired were gone (at least for a time) – He would have to enter cities secretly now, if He was going to enter them at all.
  2. There’s probably no reason to doubt the faith of the man.  Surely he was truly excited about the work of Jesus in his life, and he just wanted other people to know Who it was that healed him.  But excitement is not an excuse for disobedience.  His disobedient exuberance slowed the work of Jesus’ ministry, and Jesus had to stay “outside in deserted places,” i.e., the wilderness.
    1. Sometimes the things we do are well-meaning, but they aren’t always beneficial.
  3. Jesus wasn’t able to go to the people, but the people certainly came to Him.  At this point, it seems that people were not always coming to Jesus for the right reasons.  The implication here (as earlier in Ch. 1 when folks were lined up outside Peter’s door) is that the multitudes flocked to Jesus for miracles; not to seek Him as the Messiah.  People came for the healings, and the displays of power.  As Jesus teaches more and more in depth about discipleship, many of the people in these crowds fall off over time, to the point that Jesus asks His 12 disciples if they too, want to leave.  To their credit, they understood what was more valuable… John 6:68–69, "(68) But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (69) Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”" []
    1. Why is it we come to Jesus?  What are we looking for from Him?
  4. Question: did Jesus know in advance that this man would disobey Him?  Certainly.  Jesus is God.  There is no way Jesus did NOT know that the man would spread the news and that Jesus’ ministry would be slowed a bit.  And Jesus STILL healed him. 

Jesus came with the purpose of preaching the gospel – He continually prayed as He did what God called Him to do – He demonstrated power that proved the things that He preached – and He did it all with amazing displays of compassion and grace.  What an amazing Savior we have!

Jesus had a priority upon prayer.  He understood its importance in His own life – do we in ours?  How is it that we approach Jesus in our prayers?  With indifference – with demands?  Or do we seek after Him fervently (like Peter & the leper), and humbly submitting ourselves to Him in faith?  Are we willing to engage in the effort of prayer that we would see God glorified in our lives?

Jesus had a purpose to preach the gospel.  He understood exactly why He had come forth, and He wasn’t going to get distracted from what was most important.  As His disciples, we’ve been given the same mission.  To be sure, the way we go about it might look a little different from person to person.  Not all of us are going to stand in front of a group of people and teach the Bible. But ALL of us know people who are lost…all of us know someone who needs to know the Lord.  We are their preachers.

Jesus proved His purpose through His power and His compassion.  There was no doubt when Jesus acted that the kingdom of God was coming because of the presence of the King.  Miracles happened because the supernatural living God was at work.  And this Living God is filled with incredible love, grace, mercy, and kindness.  Question: is that what people see in our lives?  When they come in contact with us, do they see Jesus?  Do they know that the King of Kings lives from how they interact with us?  As His disciples, that is what we most want people to see!


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