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Devotion 3 - 21 Oct 2012

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Mark 1:35-39 - “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.”

Knowing When to Move On

There is one particular occasion in Jesus’ life that has often presented itself as a bit of an unnoticed surprise (to be fair, there are many such occasions in his life, but this one stands in such stark contrast to our usual way of thinking and doing that it goes by almost unnoticed).

In Mark 1:35-39 we read of a time when Jesus’ ministry was being well-received by the people. So much so that everyone was looking for him, not to take his life, but to be ministered to by him – people were desperate to be around him. From the preceding verses we see that Jesus had been teaching, healing and delivering in such great fashion that “his fame spread everywhere” (1:28). Its little surprise then that people were looking for him and clamouring for his time and attention.

But what is a surprise is Jesus’ response to this great demand on his time and presence… Peter comes to tell Jesus that he’s being sought after by the crowds; and we can imagine how excited Peter must be about this new-found celebrity-like fame Jesus’ is enjoying. It must be pretty exciting to be a member of Jesus’ entourage at this stage (how things would change for them!). And Jesus replies by saying, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came.”

What!? Peter must have been flabbergasted. What do you mean we must go on, can’t you see the crowds begging for your attention? Everyone here wants you to stay. They’re singing your praise in the streets, talking about you at dinner, whispering your name in gossip with neighbours, who wouldn’t want that kind of attention? You’re famous here, why not stay and enjoy it a bit more?

But Jesus is adamant; the time has come for him to move on.

How different is this to what we would have done? Probably very! See, we listen to the call of the crowds, we tend to get distracted by flattery and lend a lot of weight to popularity and fame – we live in a world where the pop-culture of our day esteems fame and teaches us to chase it and hold on to it. But often this fame is misleading and as a result we miss our time to move on. We choose to bask in the glory of our success in one place just a little bit longer and before long we’ve over-stayed our welcome and missed the call to move on.

Jesus knew when to move on for two reasons. Firstly, he knew why he had come. He had a sense of purpose and direction and knew when to say no to the crowds and follow the path marked out for him. It’s easy to lose focus and wander from the path if we don’t have a clear sense of where we are going. Secondly, Jesus remained in close communion with his Father. In the midst of the frantic time when crowds demanded his attention and his schedule was, no doubt, filled to the brim he nevertheless made time (early in the morning, before the day ran away with him) to meet with his Father and ask for direction. We cannot possibly remain sensitive to the guidance of God if we never take time to hear from Him, and the more busy our schedule is the more vital it becomes to do so.

Friends, I don’t know ‘where you are at’ today. Perhaps you’re contemplating a career change, or a move elsewhere or just a change in grocery store. Whatever the case for you, we all go through seasons when we have to consider the need to ‘move on’. Jesus did. This may be all the more difficult when things are going well, when people love us where we are and things seem to be as they should be – why change then? We will only know when to ‘move on’ if we develop a real sense of direction and purpose, and if we maintain a close and intimate relationship with God.

The challenge for us all today, and every day, is to ask whether or not we are where we should be. Have we lost our way? Are we being mislead by the flattery of the crowds? Is it time to ‘move on’? If yes, then I pray that God will give us a renewed sense of purpose and direction as we seek his face and spend time with Him.

God bless all of you this day and always! AMEN

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