Saturday, February 14, 2009

“Private Place” (Mark 1:35)

S-1098 2/08/09 5SAE/3C Hymns: (O) #24; (S) #159; L.S. #39; #307; #59; (C) #36

Texts Isaiah 40:21-31; 1 Corinthians 9:16-27; Mark 1:29-39

Theme: “Private Place” (Mark 1:35)

Question: “Do You have a Private Place?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Gospel lesson: “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 1:35).

Saints in Christ, in 1996 the government issued the HIPAA rule — HIPAA--Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This was done to allow people to bring their own insurance with them, protect the patient and stop the juicy gossip that might take place in a hospital and clinic. This program is both good and bad. Good that it protects many from circulating the gossip, but bad; sometimes the ones that should know don’t know.

In our day and age, privacy is very important. We all want to have privacy, but not many have it. We long to have the private life, yet we advertise almost everything we do, on Face Book, My space, Bebo, shutter fly and the like. Yet, we complain when someone finds out something we have done in secret.

In today’s reading we meet the Savior Jesus Christ in His private place. These verses reveal the great passions that moved the heart of the Savior. This brief glimpse into one early morning quiet time reveals what was important to the Lord Jesus Christ. But before we look at this early hour encounter, let’s consider what was going on in the life of this man from Nazareth.

The demands of the Sabbath had been brutal. After preaching in the synagogue, Jesus was confronted by demon possessed man. Jesus cast out that demon. He leaves the synagogue to go to Peter’s house for lunch and quiet time. When He arrives at the home, He find Peter’s mother-in-law sick with fever; Jesus reaches out to her in compassion and heals her. She didn’t go to the pharmacy to get the medicine. The medicine was right in front of her and immediately she was healed. When sundown comes, many from Capernaum bring the sick and the possessed with devils to be touched and healed by Jesus. And He does. I am positive that this took a long time and perhaps late into the night.

Here we see the Divine One showing with mighty power His authority over all illness and diseases and demos. He showed what God in the flesh can do. This is a wonderful picture of the Savior, but the next that follows is even more compelling.

Staying up late does not prevent Jesus from an early morning meeting with His heavenly Father. Mark tells us that Jesus got up “very early in the morning” and went to a private place to pray and commune with His heavenly Father. We see here this Divine One in His full human nature. He needs the strength and stamina to carry on the ministry and mission that God has sent Him to do.

This is not the only time we find the Lord Jesus Christ taking time to be in a private place and communion with the Father. In fact His ministry is marked by times of privacy with the One who sent Him to earth. His life was a portrait of times in prayer and communion with the Father. Study Scripture and you will notice a minimum of 25 times that Jesus prays in private. His whole life is marked by prayer. From His high priestly prayer, to the prayers of anguish in Gethsemane and on the cross, Jesus takes time to be in private place. Communion with the Father was one of the marks of the Messiah Isa. 50:4

If the Author and Creator of life does that, shouldn’t we? If in His humanness Jesus demonstrated how important it is to be in private time with His heavenly Father; how much more should we? PAUSE?

Do you have a private place? Do you have time where you just pour out your heart to God? Do you take time to ask God the Father to help you live as His son/daughter? Do you have Him to be part of your plans? We should. Our lives should be marked with the life of prayer also; after all, we are the Redeemed of the Lord.

To be sure, we have our private place alright. But it is not one where we would want Jesus to be. Our private place is the center of our lives where our sin and selfishness dwells. Our Private Place is littered with Lust, Contaminated by Corruption and deluded by desires that are not pleasing to God. We run to our private place, not like Jesus who went to meet the Father, but more like Adam and Eve who ran to their private place to hide their shame from God.

But here is where the Law of the Lord strikes. Our Lord even has the keys to our most private of places. He is there when we peruse pornography. He is there when we gush with gossip. He is there when we are loaded with lust. He is there when we are silent in the face of sin. WE DON”T have a private place on our terms.

But our Lord has not come to spy on us. Instead He comes to the most public of places, Calvary, so that we truly might have a private place WITH HIM. You see, prayer is not some magical spell that we cast to ward of demons, depression and despair. No, Prayer is nothing other that the exercise of the gift of faith which we receive from the Lord Himself. When we pray we are conversing through the Savior with the King of the Universe. When we pray we are crying out to God for all of our needs. When we pray we are asking our heavenly Father to hear us for the sake of His own Son, Jesus Christ. And even better, we don’t come in fear. We come in faith, love and confidence, even as a very young child comes to their earthly Father.

Our private place is not a right, but a privilege. It is a gift from God. And it is a gift we get to use. It delivers to us a sense unlike any other. As John Bunyan says He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day”. This private place can be anywhere. At the bedside, at the meal table, in the car…anywhere the Lord’s name needs to be invoked. To neglect this is serious business. Luther put it this way: If I should neglect prayer but a single day, I should lose a great deal of the fire of faith.”

We can never run to this private place too much. It is only when we run to it too little that we find ourselves in the greatest peril. Early African converts to Christianity were earnest and regular in private devotions. Each one reportedly had a separate spot in the thicket where he would pour out his heart to God. Over time the paths to these places became well worn. As a result, if one of these believers began to neglect prayer, it was soon apparent to the others. They would kindly remind the negligent one, “Brother, the grass grows on your path.

There is no grass on the path of our Savior. We can take much from what we see our Savior doing. We see it at the cross. There with splinter and spear piercing sinless flesh, our salvation is secured. But we also see in this text something that brings comfort to those of us awaiting the Savior’s return. We see a pattern of communing with the Father. It is the communion with the Father that we can never get enough of.

It is for this reason that the Lord has gathered you here today—to be in communion with Him. His Word speaks to you with the Law’s full force and the Gospel’s sweetness. It is here in this place that the Lord fills us with Christ’s body and blood. And it is here, in our very public, yet private place that we get to converse with our Heavenly Father. And not only here, but in your own private place He meets you and commune with you. I have my private place both at home in a chair and in my office at my kneeler. I pray that you do too.

Saints in Christ hear Him speak to you this day. Treasure this “private place.” Return to this place as well. For it is here that you find the peace we so covet. HIPPA may rule at the Hospital and the doctor’s office. But JESUS rules here. For this we sing eternal praise! AMEN

Now the peace…

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