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Oct 17, 2021

It is Both

It is Both

Passage: Mark 1:35-45

Speaker: Andrew Kerhoulas

Series: Follow: Learning from Mark about Jesus’ Most Misunderstood Command

Keywords: prayer, preaching, healing, solitude, word and deed, casting out demons

We’re moving through Mark’s Gospel asking the simple question: what does it mean to follow Jesus? In the beginning of chapter 1, we saw something of what it doesn’t mean, namely to admire him. Late in chapter 1, we discover Jesus praying in desolation, preaching to crowds, delivering the oppressed and healing the ailing. Here’s a person who prioritizes intimacy with the Father but never at the expense of serving others in word and deed. What does it mean to follow someone as balanced as this? How different would things in our lives and in our world look if we did?

Readings & Scripture

PREPARATION: Colossians 1:15-16; Romans 8:29; Ephesians 4:23-24

LEADER: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. For those whom God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,

ALL: to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

CENTRAL TEXT: Mark 1:35-45

35 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. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.


O my Savior, help me.
I am slow to learn, prone to forget, and weak to climb;
I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights;
I am pained by my graceless heart,
my prayerless days,
my poverty of love,
my sloth in the heavenly race,
my sullied conscience,
my wasted hours,
my unspent opportunities.
I am blind while the light shines around me:
take the scales from my eyes,
grind to dust my heart of unbelief.
Make it my highest joy to study you,
meditate on you,
gaze on you,
sit like Mary at your feet,
lean like John on your breast,
appeal like Peter to your love,
count like Paul all things but dung.
I believe, help my unbelief. Amen

RECEIVING OF GRACE: Heb 7:25, Eph 2:17, Rom 5:7-8, 2 Cor 5:21
LEADER : Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

ALL: God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

BENEDICTION: Philippians 4:8, 9, and a prayer of St Augustine
LEADER: Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen . . .practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

ALL: Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.


Leviticus 14:2-31
Psalm 119:12
Isaiah 40:8; 61:1-11; 62:7; 63:11-14
Mattew 11:5; 20:34
Mark 6:46; 14:32-39
Luke 10:33-34; 15:24; 17:12
Romans 8:34
Hebrews 7:20


  1. Which aspect(s) of Jesus’ ministry do you gravitate towards: his praying life, his preaching ministry, or his healing ministry? Do you jive more with his personal piety or his social compassion, his inner or outer life? What are some of your reasons? 
  2. A thought exercise: If Jesus hadn’t prioritized both his inner and outer life would you follow him? Would an imbalance of personal piety at the expense of social compassion or vice versa change your perception of Jesus? 
  3. Have you observed Christians who reduce Jesus’ ministry to either his personal piety or his social action? What are the effects of this reductionism? 
  4. What did Jesus do for us so that we can become more like him? How does God empower our transformation today?
  5. How can you help our church to better embody the ministry balance of Jesus? What spiritual gift(s) has he given you to that end? Are you utilizing them currently? Why or why not? 


  • “[As] one who tends toward action and activity, I am often shocked when reading the gospels by how much time Jesus spends not calling out injustice or touching lepers. He spent the first 30 years of his life in relative obscurity, learning a trade, living quietly. In the gospels, almost as soon as he is baptized and we think things will finally get going, he drops off the radar for 40 days, nearly silent in the desert. Throughout his ministry, this man who could heal, who could preach, who was himself a prophet, ran from crowds and disappeared again and again to pray alone. When he spoke out against evil, he did so within a context of a life punctuated by long, intentional silences….Contemplative silence and prayer becomes the means by which we learn the limits of words and action, and where we learn to take up the right words and actions. It’s where we learn to slow down and then to work again at the mysterious pace of the Holy Spirit.” Tish Harrison Warren
  • “[We must take up both] ‘active’ practices of seeking justice and compassion, and ‘receptive’ practices of discernment and silence. If we fail to engage in active practices we risk becoming distant, aloof, and detached from the world around us. [But] if we fail to engage in receptive practices, we risk becoming distant from ourselves, offering living water to others while we die of thirst.” Jared Alcántara 
  • “[We need to embrace] not a permanent silence, but a refusal to speak at the frantic pace set by social media.” Alan Jacobs
  • “. . . prayer ought to be the fuel of the spirit, the fuel that gives us the strength and the hope that alone can sustain work for justice and peace. “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace” — make me an instrument. Set me to work. In these dark days let me at least light a candle.” - Alan Jacobs
  • “We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!” Thomas Merton
  • “If prayer is anything, it is everything.” - Alexander Whyte
  • “...a man discovers the real condition of his spiritual life when he examines himself in private, when he is alone with God.” - David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  • “Pray as you can, and do not try to pray as you can't. Take yourself as you find yourself--and start from that. . .The more you pray, the better it goes.” - Abbot John Chapman
  • And why should the good of anyone depend on the prayer of another? I can only answer with the return question, “Why should my love be powerless to help another?” - George MacDonald
  • When I meet with students one on one, the first question I ask is “How do you grow spiritually?” Justin Yim