Mark’s Gospel begins, not with the nativity in Bethlehem, but with John the Baptist’s ministry (Mark 1:1-8), the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:9-11), the temptations of Jesus (Mark 1:12-13), and call of the earliest disciples; the four fishermen, Andrew, Peter, James, and John (Mark 1:16-20). Mark then reported Jesus’ activities at Capernaum on the northwestern shores of Galilee where He taught in the synagogue and “healed many who were sick with various diseases and drove out many demons” (Mark 1:34).
Leaving the “synagogue, they went into Simon (Peter) and Andrew’s house,” where Peter’s “mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever” (Mark 1:29–30). Hebrew women were sturdy and wouldn’t have slowed down for a minor case of the sniffles. She must have been sick, alarmingly so, because they told Jesus of the malady “immediately” (Mark 1:30, ESV). Compassionately, Jesus “went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she began to serve them” (Mark 1:31). Wow!
In his first thirty-one verses, Mark covered lots of territory!
The excitement surrounding Jesus’ ministry was electric! Capernaum’s crowds were swelling with interest and enthusiasm. Jesus was a star! “When evening came, after the sun had set, they brought to him all those who were sick and demon-possessed. The whole town was assembled at the door, and he healed many who were sick with various diseases and drove out many demons” (Mark 1:32–34).
Read that again… “The whole town was assembled at the door!” Everyone in the zip code came to see Jesus and the miracles He was performing! Everyone!
It must have been a short night. After ministering late into the evening, “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying” (Mark 1:35). Sacrificing sleep, Jesus rose before the sun, slipped out of town undetected, and found a solitary place to commune with His Father. (Oh, to be a fly on the wall… to hear the intimate conversation between Father and Son!)
When Peter had finally smelled the coffee, he and his pals went in search of the Master. Incredulously, Peter said, “everyone is looking for you” (Mark 1:37). The disciples wanted Jesus to set up shop on the town square, to continue to draw great crowds and to receive their accolades and lavish praises. They wanted Jesus to become famous so that they could be famous too!
Jesus had a different plan.
“Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come” (Mark 1:38). “It is necessary for me to proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I was sent for this purpose” (Luke 4:43).
Jesus cared about people and their physical ailments. He still does. However, His focus was not physical, but eternal. His priority was not crowds and their applause. Jesus was on an urgent mission to “proclaim the good news!” Jesus came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).