That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed
with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he
cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many
demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew
him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to
a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions
hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is
searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighbouring towns,
so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out
If you had one word to describe Jesus what would it be? Lord? Compassionate? Savior? Loving? That’s the question that was put to Dallas Willard, philosopher and esteemed teacher on Biblical spirituality. Willard thought for a moment, then offered his one word for Jesus: “Relaxed”. (Bill Gaultiere, Your Best Life In Jesus’ Easy Yoke)
“Relaxed”! I’ve done some thinking about that one word and find that “relaxed” opens a window onto the life of our Savior. Jesus does seem to live and minster relaxed and free from the “hurry sickness” epidemic of our day. Jesus lived relaxed because:
“The needs of the world did not set his agenda…Jesus often withdrew from the active ministry of meeting human need. Over and over again, he stopped healing and teaching to withdraw with his disciples (cf. Matt. 8:18). On one occasion he called his disciples away from the ministry of teaching and healing, because, as Mark tells us: ‘For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure to eat. And they went away in a boat to a deserted place by themselves’ (Mark 6:31-32).” (Ray Anderson, The Shape of Practical Theology)
Rather than being controlled by the ‘Find A Need and Fill It’ model, Jesus chose rather to live and minister only under the Father’s direction. His relaxed way stems from doing nothing on His own, but making time each day to discern the Father’s direction (John 6:38; 8:28-29). Jesus had so few years to accomplish such a great mission, but He never hurried. He had time for a woman at the well, a crippled beggar, a demoniac, little children, and tax collectors and sinners. And Jesus frequently stepped away from the endless needs of the crowd so that He could be with His Father. He went to sleep every night knowing that not everyone had heard the Good News, not every leper had been healed, and not every blind person was made to see. Yet, on His last night Jesus could say to His Father, “I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4).
Today’s text gives a glimpse of Jesus’ relaxed way of going about life and ministry. The night before we see “the whole city” packed around Jesus’ door wanting help and healing. It was an amazing night as God did great things. Now, Jesus is up before dawn wanting time alone with the Father to receive His enablement and direction. But Simon Peter comes clamoring for Him and telling Him “everyone is searching for you.” You’re needed Jesus!
Imagine you getting a phone call or text saying, “Everyone is searching for you!” How do you respond to such pressing need?
Look at how Jesus responds! He calmly says, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns…”. Having just taken time away from the crowd, He knows where the Father is sending Him next. Jesus is not pressured by many people who are searching for Him! He does not respond to every phone call or text!
Can we, like Jesus, take time away from the needs of the crowd to be with the Father? Can we discipline ourselves to step away to relax and recharge with Him? As we live more measured lives under the Father’s direction, we too can say one day to the Father, “I have finished the work that you gave me to do!”
If Jesus lived relaxed then He must surely want us to live relaxed. I recently saw a shirt with the following words printed on it: “’Relax! I’ve got this!’ God.” Perhaps those are God’s words to you today; I know they are to me!
Grace and peace,