Friday, August 12, 2011

“Come away with me. . ."

“Come away with me by yourselves and get some rest.” These rank among my favorite things that Jesus said to his disciples. Probably every person has needed, at one time or another, to hear and practice those words. Especially now, disciples of Jesus experience refreshment when we set aside time for prayer, study of the Gospels, and meditation on how our Savior lived his daily life on earth.

            Get ready for a treat if you decide to read the Gospel of Mark. You will meet anew Jesus the Wonderful, the breathtaking Savior sent to redeem the entire world. You’ll also get a glimpse of the time frame of Jesus’ day-to-day ministry, when he went from one good work to another and didn’t grow weary. The book of Mark uses the terms “immediately,” “at once,” “without delay,” and “as soon as,” over 40 times.

            Those time references allow readers to realize that Jesus’ day was crowded with needy people much like some of ours’. The disciple Mark helps us to see the immediacy of the needs that surrounded Jesus, and that Jesus chose to lean on the Father, to fuel his teaching and compassion. New Testament writers tell us that Jesus was sometimes so busy there was no time to eat. Huge crowds pressed so close to him that he barely had room to move, and he even had to make special arrangements to have time alone with his disciples to train and teach them.

            The purpose of Mark’s gospel—written primarily to Gentile readers—proves by Jesus’ works that he was sent from God, and empowered over nature, demons, and illnesses. Mark also emphasizes the authority and miracles of Jesus rather than the teachings of Christ. Mark’s inspired writing technique—of relating mostly miracles—reminded me of God arming Moses with miracles to prove to the Egyptians that God ruled supreme.

            The word servant is only used seven times in the text of Mark, but the prevalent theme is captured in chapter 10:45 when Mark writes about Jesus that he came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as ransom for many.

             If I could rouse your interest in one area of Jesus’ life, I would encourage you to remember how he still interacts with you and life-supports you each day. I encourage you to daily offer a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus’ intervention, rebuke, healing, or comfort. At the end of your day, think back over all the happenings and look for the moments when Jesus rescued, aided, or gave wisdom. Then think about Jesus’ life, stories about him and find one that correlates to your circumstances and pray remembering the old story and the your new experience. Christians know to pray through the name of Jesus, but so many times that phrase, In Jesus’ name,” can end up becoming trite or meaningless to us.  

            At the end of your day, freshen your walk with Jesus by really thinking about exactly how Jesus helped you throughout the day and end your prayers in that way. Here are a few examples of prayer endings: When you respond to accusations with silence instead of retaliating with unkind words, say thank you in the name of Jesus who stood silent before his captors, or when you choose to help someone instead of indulging in selfishness, give thanks through the name of Jesus who provided for a hungry crowd on a hillside.

            Our county suffers from a heat drought that can cause us to be hot, tired, and frustrated, but a well of living water will quench thirsts, nourish bodies, and replenish strength like no other, and his name is Jesus. The calendar may say August, but a day can bring a refilling through time spent with Jesus. Do you want to shiver with delight in August? Spend an hour or so reading the book of Mark. Underline your favorite verses, and memorize our scripture words for this week, an invitation from Jesus that will give you a breather and help you endure.

Index card verse for week 32: “Jesus said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’” (Mark 6:31).

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