During His ministry here on earth, Jesus often sought out quiet places to pray. But why? It tells us in Mark 1:35, “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.” The answer to “why He did this” is in what happened the night before. The town of Capernaum had witnessed Jesus healing someone in the Synagogue…and so later that night the entire town converged at the house where Jesus was staying…bringing in tow every sick and demon-possessed person they could find. And it says Jesus healed them. When we give much, our emotional gas tanks gets low. And the only way to fill them is to find a place of quiet reflection so that God can renew us . Jesus was practicing the discipline of silence in order to replenish, restore, refresh, and revive His soul…and it’s something we could do well to imitate.
No one walks casually into the Olympic Games and announces they’ve decided for the fun of it to compete in a race. Olympic athletes train for years…fully committed in all aspects of their lives with concentration and drive. And in the end for a few, their heroic struggle pays off with a gold medal. Our Christian life is one of training daily and fighting for victory over temptation. James 1:12 tells us, ” Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” We are in training for a crown of life, a crown of glory that will never fade away, and eternal victory.
It could have been me doubting the unbelievable story the women were recounting about the empty tomb, the angels, and their words – “He is Risen!” Now we usually just give the apostle Thomas the bad rap of doubting the resurrection…but in Luke 24: 9-11 it tells us that when the women came back from the empty tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others…but no one believed them, for their words seemed like nonsense. How many times had Jesus told the apostles about what was to happen? How He must suffer, die, and then be raised from the dead three days later. Still they did not believe it when it really happened. Yes, I could have easily been among those doubters when the words, “He is risen!” echoed across that room.
It could have been me speaking with such irreverence towards Jesus. The Greek word for “hurled insults” in this verse is Blasphemeo, where we get the word blaspheme from. The robber who reviled Jesus, mocked Him by saying, “If You call Yourself the Messiah, then show us by rescuing Yourself from Your own impending death!” So any time I operate in disbelief and mistrust of the Lord…I’m basically hurling insults His direction also. Yes, it could have been me.
It could have me with that agitated crowd yelling, “Crucify Him!” Or worse yet, it could have me standing within that frenzied crowd too scared to open my mouth and object to the injustice I was witnessing. Would I have just stood there silently condoning the atrocity as it played out before me, more afraid of man than God? Yes, that could have been me.
It could have been me among that group of dosing disciples. There they were in the Garden of Gethsemane, having just been warned by Jesus to watch and pray as He moved off to pray alone. Coming back to them, Jesus was dismayed to find them all sleeping and asked, “Are you sleeping? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you won’t fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Mark 14:38) Yes, it could have been me that Jesus found asleep. For how many times have I started to pray only to have my mind wander and become distracted after only a few minutes?