Compass Of Life

Compass Of Life: Mark 1:35-39
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday January 12, 2020

Our study of the book of Mark, finds us this morning in Mark 1:35-39. Jesus’ mission and ministry have started up, around 30 years of age, His life of obscurity as a carpenter’s son and apprentice are over. He came into the wilderness where John was baptizing people and had a baptism that interrupted the day.

The whole of the Trinity appeared through torn heavens, and Jesus was on His way. In our studies we’ve made 2 key observations of this book:

It frequently says ‘immediately”
It is light on details and background

Mark’s Gospel makes quick work of Jesus’ early days and gets to the work of ministry – it has a frantic pace. However the details it does provide are often key and carry a gravity of importance. This morning we’ll see Jesus’ character and source of direction in one of 3 instances in Mark’s Gospel. Prayer is Jesus’ compass.

“Lightfoot notes that, in Mark, there are three specific references to Jesus at prayer (1:35; 6:46; 14:32). All are at night, and all at times of tension: but surely this early rising for prayer shows a general pattern. (Cole, R. Alan. Mark: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 2. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989. Print. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries).”

Mark 1:35 (ESV)
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

Mark 6:46 (ESV)
46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.

Mark 14:32 (ESV)
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”

Maybe you’ve heard of the prayer described as, ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). Perhaps not, but that is a generally good guide for us in prayer if you don’t know how to approach your time. This time spent in prayer, and Jesus time of prayer is the detail Mark focus on in these verses. Prayer is Jesus’ compass, and we’ll see where Jesus mission points to after this sabbath day of healing in the small town of Capernaum.

“E. Stanley Jones once described prayer as a ‘time exposure to God.’ He used the analogy of his life being like a photographic plate which, when exposed to God, progressively bore the image of God in keeping with the length of exposure (Hughes, R. Kent. Mark: Jesus, Servant and Savior. Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1989. Print. Preaching the Word)”.

While Jesus bore the image of God and was sinless how much did the distance from God that His humanity required need refreshing in prayer? Our distracted lives as busy as they are can leave us parched of God’s presence – and if Prayer was Jesus’ compass how much more should it be ours?

Romans 8:28 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.

Let’s see a day in Jesus’ life, and one of the 3 specific mentions of prayer in Jesus life through the Gospel of Mark and see how Jesus turns to His father for direction, and refreshing, and for his continued joy.

Mark 1:35–39 (ESV)
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him,
37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.”

Everyone didn’t set the pattern for Jesus’ ministry, the will of God did – revealed through times of clarity found in prayer, as Prayer was Jesus’ compass, not the will of men. That is key in our lives too – lives of busyness and distance can leave us clouded from God – like the photo plate, exposure is needed for clearer pictures. Times of extended ACTS Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.

This is one of 3 specific mentions of prayer in Jesus life. In a Daguerretope, a copper plate covered in silver is prepared with a solution on the plate, and sprinkles it with a powder and buffs it in several paths, is placed into a sycencizing box with iodine fumes, then bromide, etc – then, the plate is placed into the exposure box and a long uncomfortable exposure is taken. A semi-circle of iron is placed behind the subject encouraging the sitter to focus on the same place in the wall. Next an alcohol lamp heats the plate in a mercury chamber which develops the plate after fixing it with a solution to remove bromoioidien silver, and another solution hardens the plate, making the final image.

The French bought the patent to this process so that people could enjoy this new way of capturing, life. You see how intensive and time consuming that process is – this is how Jones described prayer in Jesus’ life – is that how we treat prayer?

Simon and those with him searched for him, directly translated “they pursued strenuously”. Maybe they thought that Jesus was missing on opportunities to follow up and follow through with what he’d begun, maybe they should set up a basecamp here and go deep with people, “everyone is looking for you”, they argued.

Maybe all the people that were around the healings the previous day were gathered at Simon’s apartment – maybe new people to heal, and notice Jesus’ next words.

38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

“that is why I came out”. Or, more precisely, “for this purpose I came out” – for what purpose, read verse 38 again: Mark 1:38 “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” His “preaching” was the purpose. This wasn’t only why He left Simon’s apartment this morning, it was why He stepped down from heaven, into the form of a man, and subjected himself to this life – not to have a temporary ministry doing healing in the town of Capernaum – but to reveal through preaching the great news of God’s Gospel.


Luke 4:42-43 (ESV)
42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them,
43 but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

Jesus was about the proclamation of truth, the passing of God’s own Gospel plan before their eyes, the training for the faithful disciples – both the 12 and the greater following of people after Him, and the ultimate establishment of His church which would proclaim this truth for all the ages – Jesus couldn’t stay and minister locally, he needed to proclaim this great truth of God’s grace – he’d spent time in prayer and now the compass was set:

39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Mark focuses in here on these early ministry details, giving us a quick glimpse into these first miracles and presence in the synagogue, healings, and prayer to give a kind of form to Jesus’ life that focused back on prayer to God as the compass of life. How much do we miss that, both in Jesus life, and in our own? Mark’s few mentions actually help us to focus more, on the pattern of prayer in Jesus. So that we can emulate that in our own life.

Will you spend time in prayer this week and begin to build that as a compass in your life, begin to gain exposure time with God? Here is how Ligonier ministry describes the ACTS approach to payer:

The first element of prayer should be adoration, or praise. The Psalms, which are inspired samples of godly prayer, are heavily weighted on the side of adoration. I’ve noticed over many years that as we grow in the discipline and in the delight of prayer, it seems that we naturally spend more and more of our time on this first element.

Second, prayer should include confession of our sin; as we remember who we are when we come into God’s presence, we see that we have come short of His holiness and have need of His forgiveness.

Third, when we pray, we should always give thanks, remembering the grace and mercy God has shown toward us.

Fourth, prayer rightly includes supplication or petition, bringing our requests for the needs of others and ourselves to God.

Think this week on,

Psalm 109:4 (ESV)
4  In return for my love they accuse me,
but I give myself to prayer.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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