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Gospel of Mark, 10 - JESUS IN SOLITUDE (MARK 1:35-39)

By G.A. Chadwick


      "And in the morning, a great while before day, He rose up and went out, and departed into a desert place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after Him; and they found Him, and say unto Him, All are seeking Thee. And He saith unto them, Let us go elsewhere into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for to this end came I forth. And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out devils." MARK 1:35-39 (R.V.)

      ST. Mark is pre-eminently the historian of Christ's activities. From him chiefly we learn to add to our thought of perfect love and gentleness that of One whom the zeal of God's house ate up. But this evangelist does not omit to tell us by what secret fountains this river of life was fed; how the active labors of Jesus were inspired in secret prayers. Too often we allow to one side of religion a development which is not excessive, but disproportionate, and we are punished when contemplation becomes nerveless, or energy burns itself away.

      After feeding the five thousand, St. Mark tells us that Jesus, while the storm gathered over His disciples on the lake, went up into a mountain to pray. And St. Luke tells of a whole night of prayer before choosing His disciples, and how it was to pray that He climbed the mountain of transfiguration.

      And we read of Him going into a desert place with His disciples, and to Olivet, and oft-times resorting to the garden where Judas found Him, where, in the dead of night, the traitor naturally sought Him.

      Prayer was the spring of all His energies, and His own saying indicated the habit of His mortal life as truly as the law of His mysterious generation: "I live by the Father."

      His prayers impress nothing on us more powerfully than the reality of His manhood. He, Who possesses all things, bends His knees to crave, and His prayers are definite, no empty form, no homage without sense of need, no firing of blank cartridge without an aim. He asks that His disciples may be with Him where He is, that Simon's strength may fail not, that He may Himself be saved from a dreadful hour. "Such touches" said Godet "do not look like an artificial apotheosis of Jesus, and they constitute a striking difference between the gospel portrait and the legendary caricature."

      The entire evening had been passed in healing the diseases of the whole town; not the light and careless bestowal of a boon which cost nothing, but wrought with so much sympathy, such draining of His own vital forces, that St. Matthew found in it a fulfillment of the prophecy that He should Himself bear our sicknesses. And thus exhausted, the frame might have been forgiven for demanding some indulgence, some prolongation of repose.

      But the course of our Lord's ministry was now opening up before Him, and the hindrances becoming visible. How much was to be hoped from the great impression already made; how much to be feared from the weakness of His followers, the incipient envy of priest and Pharisee, and the volatile excitability of the crowd. At such a time, to relieve His burdened heart with Divine communion was more to Jesus than repose, as, at another time, to serve was to Him meat to eat. And therefore, in the still fresh morning, long before the dawn, while every earthly sight was dim but the abysses of heaven were vivid, declaring without voice, amid the silence of earth's discord, the glory and the handiwork of His Father, Jesus went into a solitary place and prayed.

      What is it that makes solitude and darkness dreadful to some, and oppressive to very many?

      Partly the sense of physical danger, born of helplessness and uncertainty. This He never felt, who knew that He must walk today and tomorrow, and on the third day be perfected. And partly it is the weight of unwelcome reflection, the searching and rebukes of memory, fears that come of guilt, and inward distractions of a nature estranged from the true nature of the universe. Jesus was agitated by no inward discords, upbraided by no remorse. And He had probably no reveries; He is never recorded to soliloquize; solitude to Him was but another name for communion with God His Father; He was never alone, for God was with Him.

      This retirement enabled Him to remain undisturbed until His disciples found Him, long after the crowds had besieged their dwelling. They had not yet learned how all true external life must rest upon the hidden life of devotion, and there is an accent of regret in the words, "Allare seeking Thee," as if Jesus could neglect in self-culture any true opportunity for service.

      The answer, noteworthy in itself, demands especial attention in these times of missions, demonstrations, Salvation Armies, and other wise and unwise attempts to gather excited crowds around the cross.

      Mere sensation actually repelled Jesus. Again and again He charged men not to make Him known, in places where He would stay; while in Gadara, which He had to leave, His command to the demoniac was the reverse. Deep and real convictions are not of kin with sightseeing and the pursuit of wonders. Capernaum has now heard His message, has received its full share of physical blessing, is exalted unto heaven. Those who were looking for redemption knew the gospel, and Jesus must preach it in other towns also. Therefore, and not to be the center of admiring multitudes, came He forth from His quiet home.

      Such is the sane and tranquil action of Jesus, in face of the excitement caused by His many miracles. Now the miracles themselves, and all that depends on them, are declared to be the creation of the wildest fanaticism, either during His lifetime or developing His legend afterwards. And if so, we have here, in the action of human mind, the marvel of modern physicists, ice from a red-hot retort, absolute moderation from a dream of frenzy. And this paradox is created in the act of "explaining" the miracles. The explanation, even were it sustained by any evidence, would be as difficult as any miracle to believe.

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See Also:
   Gospel of Mark, 1 - THE BEGINNING OF THE GOSPEL (MARK 1:1-6)
   Gospel of Mark, 2 - AT THE JORDAN (MARK 1:7-11)
   Gospel of Mark, 3 - AT THE JORDAN cont. (MARK 1:7-11)
   Gospel of Mark, 4 - THE TEMPTATION (MARK 1:12,13)
   Gospel of Mark, 5 - THE EARLY PREACHING AND THE FIRST DISCIPLES (MARK 1:14-20)
   Gospel of Mark, 6 - TEACHING WITH AUTHORITY (MARK 1:21,22)
   Gospel of Mark, 7 - MIRACLES (MARK 1:23)
   Gospel of Mark, 8 - THE DEMONIAC (MARK 1:23-28)
   Gospel of Mark, 9 - A GROUP OF MIRACLES (MARK 1:29-34)
   Gospel of Mark, 10 - JESUS IN SOLITUDE (MARK 1:35-39)
   Gospel of Mark, 11 - THE LEPER (MARK 1:40-45)
   Gospel of Mark, 12 - THE SICK OF THE PALSY (MARK 2:1-12)
   Gospel of Mark, 13 - THE SON OF MAN (MARK 2:10)
   Gospel of Mark, 14 - THE CALL AND FEAST OF LEVI (MARK 2:13-17)
   Gospel of Mark, 15 - THE CONTROVERSY CONCERNING FASTING (MARK 2:18)
   Gospel of Mark, 16 - THE SABBATH (MARK 2:23-28)
   Gospel of Mark, 17 - THE WITHERED HAND (MARK 3:1-6)
   Gospel of Mark, 18 - THE CHOICE OF THE TWELVE (MARK 3:7-19)
   Gospel of Mark, 19 - CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TWELVE (MARK 3:14-19)
   Gospel of Mark, 20 - THE APOSTLE JUDAS (MARK 3:19)
   Gospel of Mark, 21 - CHRIST AND BEELZEBUB (MARK 3:20-27)
   Gospel of Mark, 22 - "ETERNAL SIN" (MARK 3:28,29)
   Gospel of Mark, 23 - THE FRIENDS OF JESUS (MARK 3:31-35)
   Gospel of Mark, 24 - THE PARABLES (MARK 4:1,2,10-13)
   Gospel of Mark, 25 - THE SOWER (MARK 4:3-9,14-20)
   Gospel of Mark, 26 - THE SOWER cont. (MARK 4:3-9,14-20)
   Gospel of Mark, 27 - LAMP AND STAND (MARK 4:21-25)
   Gospel of Mark, 28 - THE SEED GROWING SECRETLY (MARK 4:26-29)
   Gospel of Mark, 29 - THE MUSTARD SEED (MARK 4:30-34)
   Gospel of Mark, 30 - FOUR MIRACLES (MARK 4:39)
   Gospel of Mark, 31 - THE TWO STORMS (MARK 4:35-41)
   Gospel of Mark, 32 - THE DEMONIAC OF GADARA (MARK 5:1-20)
   Gospel of Mark, 33 - THE MEN OF GADARA (MARK 5:14-20)
   Gospel of Mark, 34 - WITH JAIRUS (MARK 5:21-43)
   Gospel of Mark, 35 - WITH JAIRUS cont. (MARK 5:21-43)
   Gospel of Mark, 36 - REJECTED IN HIS OWN COUNTRY (MARK 6:1-6)
   Gospel of Mark, 37 - THE MISSION OF THE TWELVE (MARK 6:7-13)
   Gospel of Mark, 38 - HEROD (MARK 6:14-29)
   Gospel of Mark, 39 - BREAD IN THE DESERT (MARK 6:30-46)
   Gospel of Mark, 40 - UNWASHEN HANDS (MARK 6:53-7:13)
   Gospel of Mark, 41 - THINGS WHICH DEFILE (MARK 7:14-23)
   Gospel of Mark, 42 - THE CHILDREN AND THE DOGS (MARK 7:24-30)
   Gospel of Mark, 43 - THE DEAF AND DUMB MAN (MARK 7:31-37)
   Gospel of Mark, 44 - THE FOUR THOUSAND (MARK 8:1-10)
   Gospel of Mark, 45 - THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES (MARK 8:11-21)
   Gospel of Mark, 46 - MEN AS TREES (MARK 8:22-26)
   Gospel of Mark, 47 - THE CONFESSION AND THE WARNING (MARK 8:27-32)
   Gospel of Mark, 48 - THE REBUKE OF PETER (MARK 8:32-9:1)
   Gospel of Mark, 49 - THE TRANSFIGURATION (MARK 9:2-8)
   Gospel of Mark, 50 - THE DESCENT FROM THE MOUNT (MARK 9:9-13)
   Gospel of Mark, 51 - THE DEMONIAC BOY (MARK 9:14-29)
   Gospel of Mark, 52 - JESUS AND THE DISCIPLES (MARK 9:28-37)
   Gospel of Mark, 53 - OFFENSES (MARK 9:38-50)
   Gospel of Mark, 54 - DIVORCE (MARK 10:1-12)
   Gospel of Mark, 55 - CHRIST AND LITTLE CHILDREN (MARK 10:13-16)
   Gospel of Mark, 56 - THE RICH INQUIRER (MARK 10:17-22)
   Gospel of Mark, 57 - WHO THEN CAN BE SAVED? (MARK 10:23-31)
   Gospel of Mark, 58 - CHRIST'S CUP AND BAPTISM (MARK 10:35-40)
   Gospel of Mark, 59 - THE LAW OF GREATNESS (MARK 10:41-45)
   Gospel of Mark, 60 - BARTIMAEUS (MARK 10:46-52)
   Gospel of Mark, 61 - THE TRIUMPHANT ENTRY (MARK 11:1-11)
   Gospel of Mark, 62 - THE BARREN FIG-TREE (MARK 11:12-14,20-25)
   Gospel of Mark, 63 - THE SECOND CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE (MARK 11:15-19)
   Gospel of Mark, 64 - THE BAPTISM OF JOHN, WHENCE WAS IT? (MARK 11:27-33)
   Gospel of Mark, 65 - THE HUSBANDMEN (MARK 11:1-12)
   Gospel of Mark, 66 - THE TRIBUTE MONEY (MARK 12:13-17)
   Gospel of Mark, 67 - CHRIST AND THE SADDUCCEES (MARK 12:18-27)
   Gospel of Mark, 68 - THE DISCERNING SCRIBE (MARK 12:28-34)
   Gospel of Mark, 69 - DAVID'S LORD (MARK 12:35-40)
   Gospel of Mark, 70 - THE WIDOW'S MITE (MARK 12:41-44)
   Gospel of Mark, 71 - THINGS PERISHING AND THINGS STABLE (MARK 13:1-7)
   Gospel of Mark, 72 - THE IMPENDING JUDGMENT (MARK 13:8-16)
   Gospel of Mark, 73 - THE CRUSE OF OINTMENT (MARK 14:1-9)
   Gospel of Mark, 74 - THE TRAITOR (MARK 14:10-16)
   Gospel of Mark, 75 - THE SOP (MARK 14:17-21)
   Gospel of Mark, 76 - BREAD AND WINE (MARK 14:22-25)
   Gospel of Mark, 77 - BREAD AND WINE cont. (MARK 14:22-25)
   Gospel of Mark, 78 - THE WARNING (MARK 14:26-31)
   Gospel of Mark, 79 - IN THE GARDEN (MARK 14:32-42)
   Gospel of Mark, 80 - THE AGONY (MARK 14:34-42)
   Gospel of Mark, 81 - THE AGONY cont. (MARK 14:34-42)
   Gospel of Mark, 82 - THE ARREST (MARK 14:43-52)
   Gospel of Mark, 83 - BEFORE CAIAPHAS (MARK 14:53-65)
   Gospel of Mark, 84 - THE FALL OF PETER (MARK 14:66-72)
   Gospel of Mark, 85 - PILATE (MARK 15:1-20)
   Gospel of Mark, 86 - CHRIST CRUCIFIED (MARK 15:21-32)
   Gospel of Mark, 87 - THE DEATH OF JESUS (MARK 15:33-41)
   Gospel of Mark, 88 - CHRIST RISEN (MARK 16:1-18)
   Gospel of Mark, 89 - THE ASCENSION (MARK 16:19-20)

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