Christ the Perfect Servant in the Gospel of Mark (3)

The Need of Prayer and Retirement

This need balances the previous need. After a full Sabbath day of activity (Mark 1:21-34) we read in 1:35, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Since the sinless Son of God found it necessary to pray, how much more should we find it necessary to pray? In 3:14 we read, “And He ordained (or “appointed” RV) twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach.” Notice the order: it is not preaching and then to be with Him. They had to spend time with Him to be effective for Him.

Matthew 4:19 records that our Lord said to Peter and Andrew, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” but only Mark (1:17) adds the words, “to become fishers of men.” The best service of the 11 was after they had been with Him while He was here on earth. We read in Acts 4:13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” A spokesman (probably Peter) for the 12 gave instructions in Acts 6:2-3 and then in verse 4 said, “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word.” We should notice that they put prayer first. They got that emphasis as a result of being with Him.

God is interested in the quantity of our service, but He is much more interested in the quality of our ser­vice. If we serve with only a little communion with Him, then there will be unreality in our service. If we are too busy to spend time in prayer and the reading of the Word of God then we are far busier than God ever intended. Our Lord Jesus, the only perfect Servant Who ever lived, was 30 years in obscurity before three and half years in the public eye.

Mark 1:35, 3:13, and 6:31 are only in this gospel. In 6:31 our Lord Jesus said, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place and rest awhile.” Vance Havner wrote, “If you don’t come apart, you will come apart!”

The Need of Courage

There are also three verses unique to Mark which show the need of courage. In 3:21 we read, “And when His friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold of Him: for they said, He is beside Himself.” “Friends” refers to those belonging to Him, which could mean His family. John 7:5 records, “Neither did His brethren believe on Him.” Since the perfect Servant of God was misunderstood we should not be surprised if we are misunderstood.

Only Mark tells us in 8:12 that, “He sighed deeply in His spirit,” when He asked, “Why doth this generation seek after a sign?” In 7:34 Mark records the simple verb, “He sighed,” but in 8:12 it is the intensive form of the verb found only here in all of the Word of God. The phrase “He sighed deeply in His spirit” means that He sighed from the bottom of His heart or that His spirit was stirred to its depths. He said, “Why doth this generation seek after a sign?” Anything that appeals to the senses, an entertainment gospel, or professed healings are eagerly run after by the sign-seeking multitude, but a rejected Christ has as little attraction today as then.

The third verse showing His courage is especially precious. “And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed they were afraid.” The disciples knew it was dangerous to go to Jerusalem. Since the disciples were amazed, how much more should we be amazed, since we know what they didn’t comprehend even though He had told them earlier? He was not only going to a place of danger but He was going to certain death. He courageously went toward Jerusalem even though He knew with a perfect knowledge all that awaited Him there.

“For the Lord God will help Me; there­fore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed” (Isa 50:7). That verse very naturally links with Luke 9:51, “And it came to pass, that when the time was come that He should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” Nothing could turn Him aside.

We all need courage from God to serve Him acceptably. Paul could say in Galatians 1:10, “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Remembering that we have been bought with the precious blood of Christ should help us to be courageous. Shortly after Hitler’s dictatorship began, some boys were threatening another boy in an effort to get him to join their boys’ club. They said to him, “Do you know that we have power to kill you?” He answered quietly, “And I have power to die for the Lord Jesus.”

We are thankful to God for the courage of Martin Luther, who changed the course of history. He stood before many high officials of the Roman Catholic Church with all his books. He was asked if they were his books. He said they were. He was then sharply asked, “Will you recant?” He was only allowed to answer “yes” or “no.” He requested another day, which was granted. The following day trembling with emotion, he launched into such a brilliant defense of his convictions that his opponents could not silence him until he was finished.

“I am a man not God,” he said humbly at the conclusion of his defense. “Show me my errors by proofs from the Bible, and I will be the first to throw my books in the fire. But unless I shall be convinced by the testimonies of Scriptures, I cannot recant anything since I cannot act against my conscience. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.”