Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Out of sight, out of mind.

It was the Sabbath day and Jesus took his disciples to the synagogue in Capernaum, where he taught the people. All the people that heard him were amazed at his teaching. They were even more amazed when a man overcome by an evil spirit began to shout at Jesus, because just as soon as he started, Jesus silenced the demon and freed the man. The whole city began to talk.

Later Jesus and the disciples went to Simon Peter's house. Peter’s wife’s mother was sick in bed with fever. Jesus touched her and she was healed. After sunset, people from all over Capernaum began to carry their sick and lame and demon-oppressed to the house where Jesus was. The whole city turned out and crowded the house. Jesus healed a great many of the sick and lame, and freed people from demons.

The next morning, before sunrise, Jesus had already left the house and gone to a quiet place outside of the city to pray. His disciples found him later that morning and told him that everyone was looking for him.

But Jesus replied, “Let's go to these other villages, now, so I can announce the gospel there too. That is why I have come.”

a loose telling from somewhere in Mark 1

This is an amazing day in the life of Jesus.

After everything Jesus did during that day, he could have remained at Peter’s house and established a mega-church at Capernaum that the whole city would attend. Instead, the next morning Jesus is nowhere to be found. When his disciple finally catch up to him, he basically says “There are people beyond this crowd who need me. We don’t know them yet, so let’s get going.”

Had Jesus chosen to stay put, I can imagine the disciples hard at work, organizing schedules and talking about renovating the house to accommodate more people. “Good thing you’re a carpenter, Jesus.” There would be a great many things to take care of. How many times a day would Jesus teach? When would be the specified healing times? When would they close up for meal time. What about cleaning? Bathroom space for all the people? Would the noise bother the neighbors. Maybe they could buy the neighboring houses and expand a little?

The disciples could have done a lot of work, good work, but that wasn’t what Jesus had called them to do. He called them to become fishers of men. Their calling was to mission, to leaving the 99 to find the one. So, bringing the light of the gospel to the ones still in the dark was the work that Jesus had them do. “Come, let’s go to other places now.”

Simon Peter’s house continued to be a ministry outpost.

In the next chapter, his house is full of people again and having its ceiling torn open for a paraplegic. Our modern church buildings are and should also be ministry outposts, but to be effective in reaching out to a lost world, we need to learn a lesson from Mark chapter one. The meeting place was incidental, secondary. The real outreach was being done outside its walls and with no thought given to its prominence or status. People were first.

  • Are our churches really putting people first today?
  • How much of your church budget is spent on the meeting place and its upkeep?
  • How much is spent on people you haven’t yet met?
  • Can you see the point?

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