Making Space

Today’s scripture passage from Mark 1:29​-39 illustrates in three short vignettes one of the most important doctrines about the nature of Jesus—the hypostatic union (that is, the combination of both divine and human natures in the single person of Christ). To explain, verses 29-31 open the story with Jesus’ visit at the home of Simon and Andrew after a morning at the synagogue. The restrictions of Sabbath observance necessitated their having a quiet day, but Simon’s mother-in-law was ill and Jesus was moved to cure her. Little wonder that by sundown (the end of the Sabbath) we find in the second set of verses (32-34) “the whole city” bringing their sick to Jesus—encamping by the door seeking their own miracle. As God incarnate, Jesus had the power and authority to heal the sick and he did so—meeting the needs of people in body, spirit, and mind—probably late into the night.

Yet, lest we forget, the last section (vs. 35-39) of the story reminds us that Jesus was not only fully God, but also fully human as we find that in addition to healing, casting out demons, and preaching, one of Jesus’ regular habits was slipping off alone to find a quiet place to pray—in this case, in the early morning before it was even light. That’s because in addition to accepting the limits of humanity such as a need to eat, sleep, and rest, Jesus recognized there was another aspect of his personhood that needed to be fed—he needed time to pray and gain perspective. As I tell the children in today’s message, “even Jesus needed times to get away….even he needed an alone time to be with and talk to and listen to God.” Jesus did not neglect this part of himself, and in doing so taught his disciples a lesson: if they were looking for Jesus, they could probably find him somewhere praying.

Yet, Jesus’ example is also instructive to us. Today’s Gospel portrays a very busy day in the life of Jesus. Personally, I find my life is busy these days too—but in a different way than usual. People aren’t coming over, and I’m not traveling about, running from one place to another as much, but when everybody is working from home, there’s a different type of busyness—that can really feel, as I tell the children, “too much!” (I imagine you and your children probably have felt this way at some point during the pandemic, too.) What is comforting to me is realizing not only that even Jesus likely had these feelings—times when life was “too much”—but also, he set the example in how we too can overcome them: making a quiet space (literally and figuratively) to just be with God.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Lord, help me be more like Jesus—still my body and my mind in your presence that I may better know You and hear and follow Your voice.