Mark 1:35-39

Jesus preaching in the synagogues of Galilee
(Mark 1:35-39)

INTRODUCTION

Jesus became popular in Capernaum because of the miracles he performed in the synagogue and at Peter’s house. The people there wanted Jesus to remain with them. However, Jesus continued his missionary journey to all the villages and tows of Galilee preaching and healing. The passion of Jesus to help the people with his proclamation of the Kingdom of God and his charitable services have been followed by Christian missionaries through out the centuries all over the world. We are called to keep up the same spirit of preaching and helping those in need.

Bible Text

(Mark 1:35) Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. (36) Simon and those who were with him pursued him (37) and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” (38) He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” (39) So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

 Interpretation

(Mark 1:35) Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.

Rising very early before dawn
Even in the midst of his busy schedule, Jesus used to find time for personal prayer either very early before down or at night so that he could be alone in communion with his Father to prepare for his day’s ministry. Because Jesus was becoming popular, he could not get time for personal prayer during daytime, especially to be alone without any distraction.

he left and went off to a deserted place where he prayed.
Besides his prayer in the Temple and in the synagogues, Jesus used to pray in secluded places like mountains (Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12), deserted places (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16), and gardens like mount of Olives or Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36, Mark 14:32, Luke 22:39). That also helped him to be free from distractions and concentrate in his prayer.

(36) Simon and those who were with him pursued him

Jesus woke up very early in the morning and went to a deserted place without informing anyone where he was going. Since Simon Peter and those who were in his house noticed that Jesus was missing from the house, they went searching for Jesus. Those who were with Simon must be  Andrew, James and John who had already followed Jesus fulltime. However, according to Luke, “The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them.” (Luke 4:42). That means the villagers might have arrived very early in the morning looking for Jesus and they also joined Simon and companions searching for Jesus. Because of the miracles Jesus performed, they wanted Jesus to remain in their village.

(37) and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

This communication from Simon Peter implies that all the villagers were seeking for Jesus as reported by St. Luke. They might have been seeking Jesus to see him, listen to him and to get more healings from him.

(38) He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”

Let us go on to the nearby villages
Jesus after finishing his morning prayer was inviting the disciples to join him to go to nearby villages. The nearby villages around the Sea of Galilee included Bethsaida, Chorazin, Capernaum, Magdala, and Tiberias. Since Sea of Galilee was rich with fishes for fishing industry and surrounded by fertile lands for cultivation, there were several villages and towns with thousands of inhabitants including Jews and Gentiles. Besides the inhabitants there, travelers from different parts of the world were also passing through Galilee. It was safe for Jesus to preach his revolutionary ideas different from the teachings of the conservative Jewish leaders like Pharisees and Scribes who were concentrated in Judea than Galilee.

I may preach there also.
The purpose of the incarnation of Jesus was to preach. According to St. Luke this preaching was to “proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.” (Luke 4:43). The people in Capernaum where insisting Jesus to stay with them to perform healing and other miracles for them. Though he would come back there for further preaching and healing, he wanted to keep moving to nearby villages or towns with his mission.

For this purpose have I come.
Jesus came to this world with a purpose and that was to proclaim the Kingdom of God. In St. Luke’s gospel Jesus says: “for this purpose I have been sent.” (Luke 4:43). That means Jesus was sent from his Father for this mission.

(39) So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

he went into their synagogues

Jesus used to go to the synagogues in each village where people would gather for daily prayers, especially on the day of Sabbath. The attendees in the synagogues were disposed to listen to the word of God and its interpretation. Jesus was a welcome preacher in the synagogues because he spoke with authority (Mark 1:22) and his preaching was attractive to the audience. From the time of Babylonian exile, Jews used to have synagogues. That helped Jesus and the early preachers of Christianity to address the Jewish community in each locality.

preaching and driving out demons
The ministry of Jesus included preaching or announcing the arrival of the Kingdom of God and casting our demons. The demon-possession is presented as a common phenomenon in the gospels. Before the development of scientific clarity on the causes of diseases, the cause of many disabilities were attributed to the evil spirits. Epilepsy (Mark 9:17-27), mental disorder (Mark 5:1-5) and physical disabilities like dumbness (Matthew 9:32-33) and blindness (Matthew 12:22) were attributed to the demons. So many of the driving out of demons meant healing the sick also.

The healing of Jesus and casting out of demons with simple words and effortless action was something unique of Jesus different from such healers of the time. The healing ministry of Jesus was communicative of his divine authority as well as his helping mentality to alleviate the sufferings of humanity.

throughout the whole of Galilee.
Though Jesus did his preaching and healing in the whole of Galilee, he also did the same in Judea and Samaria. The name Galilee derived from the Hebrew word “galil” that means circle. The full name was the Galilee of the Gentiles. Galilee was, in fact circled by Gentiles. Phoenicians on the west, Syrians on the north and east, and Samaritans on the south were their neighbors. Since Galilee was encircled by the Gentiles, the Jews there were more open to new ideas compared to other parts of Palestine.

Message

1. Jesus found time for prayer even during his busy schedule. Let us also begin and end our day’s work with prayer.

2. Besides Temple and synagogues, Jesus also selected secluded places for personal prayer. Besides church and communal prayers, let us also find space for personal prayers.

3. Jesus was not seeking popularity but wanted to continue his mission through out all the villages of Galilee and Judea. As Christians, we need to continue the mission of Jesus by proclaiming Jesus’ Kingdom through our words and actions.

4. Along with his preaching, Jesus performed healing and casting out demons thus solving the issues of the people. Though we cannot perform miracles like Jesus did, we need to help the people as much as we can. Then Jesus would produce miraculous results out of our words and deeds.

5. Jesus made a balance with personal prayer, community prayer, preaching the word of God, and offering charitable services. Let us also keep this balance in our lives.

6. Jesus came to this world with a purpose. We were not aware of the purpose of our lives when we were born. However, God has a purpose for each one of us. Let do the will of God in our lives.