I read the gospel of Mark last night before bed. It only takes about an hour. Especially if you’re familiar with it … if you skim the parts you know best … if you’re not looking for anything in particular … if you can force yourself not to get hit between the eyes by something new and stop dead right there and ponder it.
What kept slapping me in the face last night was Fugitive Jesus. He is always trying to get away. He wants to preach. But people keep following Him because they are sick and they need to be healed, and He can’t help Himself; He heals them. They need demons cast out, and He casts them out. He tells the demons “Keep quiet about Who I am!” It was almost as if He were saying: “Let them figure it out by themselves!”
And He’d say to His friends, “Let’s go somewhere else so I can preach; that’s what I came for,” but people would still follow Him. When He heals them, He instructs them not to tell anybody. They tell anyway. One fellow He permits to go home and tell his family. They guy tells people in ten cities. And more people follow.
He needs rest; He sends out His friends. When they come back from teaching and healing, they need rest but they can’t get away. People are looking for Him. They’d follow till they were too far from home to go back for dinner. Then He’d teach. Then He’d feed them. Then they’d surround Him and press him right to the edge of the lake so that He has to take a boat to escape.
He’d try to hide and people would still find Him. A Greek woman with a daughter who needed help. Jesus answers: “Go home; she’s well.” A deaf man who could hardly talk. “Don’t tell anyone.” A blind man. “Don’t go into the village.”
He confronts the Pharisees from Jerusalem, who just wanted to see magic tricks or argue with Him or try to prove Him wrong. He confronts His friends: “Who do they think I am? Who do you think I am?”
Peter tells Him. Jesus answers: “Don’t tell anyone.”
Then – three times – He tells them what is going to happen to Him.
Moses and Elijah confirm what Peter has guessed.
The running away and hiding and secrecy all cease. “Fugitive Jesus” is gone.
He starts for Jerusalem.
It’s an impossible task. He can’t do it all. He’s on a deadline, and there are only so many more He can reach and teach and heal and bless before ….
Before He leaves the rest to us.
And it occurred to me last night … In the first part of His ministry, Jesus didn’t run from the task at hand; He ran from the recognition that was keeping Him from the task.
I tend to do just the opposite.