Each of the four Gospel writers portrays different aspects of the character of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Mark’s Gospel, we see Christ as the perfect Servant of Jehovah, the One who “[took] the form of a bondservant” (Php. 2:7) and at every turn accomplished the will of God the Father. As we read the book we might be struck with how fast the narrative moves. For instance the word “immediately” (or straightway, anon) occurs some 36 times as the action unceasingly moves forward. How tireless was this Servant of Jehovah! He moved from one work to another. He stayed up late hours (“when the sun had set”) serving the “whole city” when they came to Him. And yet this tireless ministry did not deter Him from rising early in the morning, going to a solitary place, and praying to His Father:
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place, and there He prayed (Mark 1:35).
What an example for any who would serve the Almighty God! It is quite easy to neglect private communion with God when you are extremely busy. Yet the Lord Jesus rose up before daylight and purposely found a solitary, isolated place to commune with His Father. He could have communed with His Father anywhere, but His fame was spreading (Mark 1:28) and time alone was no doubt hard to find, so He found a place where there would be no disturbances. It says He went out and found this solitary place, and here He prayed. The Lord rose up “a long while” before daylight; that is, it was still dark and quiet. The hustle and bustle of daily life and work had not yet begun. It was in this quiet sphere that the man Jesus communed with God His Father and heard from Him before the day began. It was a “solitary” place. It was a place where Christ would be alone with His Father.
For us today, I wonder if we have such a “solitary” place where we resort to be with the Lord (see John 18:2). Surely it is not in the kitchen with kids running around. Nor is it in the car with music blaring. The solitary place is where no interference of man or the world can occur. In Luke we often find the Lord praying, and it says He often went to the wilderness or mountain to do so: “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:16). And again, “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). Do we take time out of our busy days and “withdraw” to be with Christ? Do we go out to Him (or shut the door to our “closet,” Matt. 6:6)? The place does not matter for the servant of God so long as he can fellowship with his Master without distraction.
The Psalmist said, “O GOD, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee” (Ps. 63:1). As one has said, “What first lays hold of the heart in the morning is likely to occupy the place all of the day.” In our fast-paced society we are so prone to begin our days “on the go” without sitting before the LORD in quietness and communing with Him. We do not want to present this as some law or checklist to do as the day begins. It is the Lord. It is life. The Lord stands ready to impart more of Himself and His grace to equip me for the day and its difficulties. Is the Lord worthy of such time? Surely He is. Do I need His grace to navigate through each day? Without question! The Lord says, “…for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Apart from abiding in Him, we can accomplish nothing of eternal value. This is not to say we should not seek Him throughout the day, for surely the Scripture exhorts us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) as the day unfolds moment by moment. But to meet the Lord in that solitary place and behold Him is something each of God’s servants needs.
To close, we refer to the story of Mary and Martha in Luke’s Gospel. Martha, the text says, welcomed the Lord into her house, but she became “distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:40). She even went so far as to complain to the Lord about her sister (Mary) not helping her! Such is the state of one consumed with much serving. Mary, on the other hand, sat at the feet of the Lord and heard His word. In light of all of this, note the Lord’s words to Martha:
Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:41-42).
Mary sat at the feet of the Lord and heard His word, and the Lord’s assessment is that she chose “that good part” and the one thing that is needed. Martha was encumbered (literally, “drawn away”) with much serving. It drew her away from fellowship and communion with the Lord! This is certainly not to say that serving the Lord is wrong. But the Scripture would have us on a regular basis at the feet of Christ, in quietness and rest hearing Him and learning of Him as we go out to serve Him in this dark world. This is the “one thing needed” and the “good part” according to our blessed Lord! May we make time to meet the Lord in that place where we can hear His voice and commune with Him.
– d. wolfe