In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. – Mark 1:35-39
Jesus was a hit in Capernaum. That’s what Mark tells us. When he went out to be by himself and pray, his disciples looked for him, and when they found him, they told him, “Everyone is searching for you.” The people in Capernaum received Jesus warmly – so warmly in fact that Mark records that Jesus made his adult home in Capernaum, a village on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 2:1). Several places were key in the life of Jesus it seems. The scriptural record tells us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, that he grew up in Nazareth, that he moved to Capernaum, and that he was crucified in Jerusalem. He was a hit in Capernaum. Unlike in Nazareth or in the country of the Gerasenes (Mark 5:17), the people in Capernaum loved him and gladly welcomed him into their city.
In reality Jesus was not in Capernaum much, at least according to the Mark. Perhaps Capernaum was Jesus’ home base, where he received his mail, but we have no record of him having a home and settling down; there has never been a place in Capernaum marked, “Jesus’ house.”
The fact is, Jesus would not stay put. He “was born a rambling man.” Just in the first chapter of Mark we see the pattern emerging, as we read that Jesus came to John at the Jordan to be baptized, that he went into the wilderness where he was tempted, that he walked along the Sea of Galilee where he found and called his first disciples, and that he went to Capernaum where he taught and healed and proclaimed the kingdom of God. Just when it seemed that he might linger a bit longer there, he left.
When Jesus was told that people were searching for him, he made clear his intentions – actually it was more than that. He made clear his mission. “Let us go on to the neighboring towns so that I may proclaim the message there also.” And then Jesus added, “For that is what I came out to do.”
What do we make of this? Most certainly we find that the Jesus never intended his work to be limited to one place, to be defined by a locale, to be confined by a building, to be restricted to a structure. There was nothing static about Jesus’ mission. It was dynamic, ever changing, ever moving. And that’s the key, isn’t it? Jesus “came out” to begin a movement – the Mighty Movement of God, and he kept moving.
When we are tempted to be overly protective of our church structure or finely appointed buildings or static beliefs or rigid rules, we need to remember that while all of these things may be helpful to us, Jesus did not “come out” for any of that. He did not “come out” to settle down or to settle for anything less than the mighty movement of God. And Mark tells us, “He went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.”
Good Father, how mighty is this movement! Bid me and your church to “come out” of the safety and security of our structures and to follow Christ Jesus, wherever he leads us. Amen.
A Bible study devotional blog by Gorman Houston.