That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. 33 The whole town gathered at the door to watch. 34 So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.
35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” 39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.
40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.
41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. 43 Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: 44 “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
45 But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him. – Mark 1:32-45
During one of our virtual workouts our trainer wanted to show us how long we could go before we had to stop. When we were at the point of muscle failure he urged us to keep going. He contended that we could go 40% longer than we thought we could. I’m not sure I went 40% longer, but I did manage to go longer than I thought I could.
When it comes to the Christian life, there are times we come to the end of our rope. We can’t go on. We need to power down. We have not been able to summon any more compassion for our neighbors who have suffered a loss. We lose our temper when our kids don’t obey as they should. We give into temptation to envy or lust. How do we keep going?
Jesus offers us a great example and reminder. We can’t go it alone. We need God’s power and help to keep on the path and finish the race of faith. When Jesus has finished a day of healing and casting out demons he has in mind more work to be done. He will retreat – and early in the morning for that matter. But he goes out to pray not simply to reflect, but to power up for further ministry.
There are some people who will lead all the others. He will run faster. She will last longer. But even the best athlete needs to rest. A marathon runner eventually has to stop and rest – even if only at the end of the race. Jesus will run for three years, but he does so only under the power of God. Even Jesus will need to rest (cf. John 4:6).
So Jesus is for us an example and a reminder. His example is that of prayer. He doesn’t take on the mission for which he came without seeking God’s help, insight, and power. There is much to be said here about Jesus as God in the flesh. It is a mystery that at the same time he is God in the flesh, he is fully and truly human. We learn that he emptied himself and laid aside his divine prerogatives in order to redeem us. As such he sought God’s strength and never sought to do anything apart from God’s power and guidance (cf. John 5:19).
Jesus seeks God’s guidance in prayer. This is a good example for us. Jesus also offers us a reminder. Don’t go this alone. Don’t try to do the work of God on your own strength. Seek God’s help, guidance, and strength in prayer. This honors God and aligns us with his will. This is a timely reminder for us all.
This is also a reminder that our prayers ought not to be totally centered only on our own needs. During times like these our needs and challenges are sure to focus our prayers. But perhaps this reminder will serve to focus our prayers also on how God wants to bless others through us.