Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
The disciples were ecstatic. Jesus was a trending topic. And now, after a late night, they were awakened by murmuring voices. Peter, the owner of the house, got up and looked out the window. The street was covered with bodies, twisted, bloated, mutilated, scarred.
He panicked for a moment. Had the Romans attacked Capernaum overnight?
A hand moved. An eye opened. A face turned toward his, expectantly.
He backed away from the window, struggling to remember.
His eyes adjusted to the handful of bodies laying on the floor in the front room.
It wasn’t a curse. This was the first century. Of course, Peter didn’t know that. Nor that people would be saying that word millenia later as they stared through the bleary eyes of a late night as they looked at bodies all around.
For Peter, that morning, it was remembering the day before.
It started with Jesus sitting in the synagogue, teaching as the guest rabbi. As he talked, even the sleepers got nudged. “This is different. You gotta listen to this guy. He’s talking like, like it’s actually true!”
Suddenly, in the corner of the room, a man starts yelling.
Everyone knew crazy Jakov. Most communities have a Jakov. He’s the one who speaks at just the wrong time. He’s the one with drool on his beard, a wild look in his eye. Some people called him crazy. Some people called him possessed. Everyone mostly ignored him.
This morning, he would not be ignored.
“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus looked at him. Those watching from one angle said it seemed that he wasn’t looking at crazy Jakov as much as looking through him.
“Be quiet. Leave him alone,” Jesus said.
There was a scream. And then silence. Crazy Jakov slumped into the corner. Those close to him said it was as if something left him. His face, though worn, looked clearer, more relaxed, more like the Jakov they remembered from decades before.
Everyone was paying attention now. Everyone was listening to this lesson.
“What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.”
And crowds came. From all over crowds came. The word of mouth was amazing. By sundown, when people could start walking more than the mile the Sabbath kept them to, there was a stream of people to the street where Peter’s house was.
Jesus moved from person to person, stretcher to stretcher, worried mother to desperate son. He touched hands, heads, arms, hearts. From time to time he spoke, just as he had in the synagogue, to something within people. “Don’t tell anyone who I am,” he often whispered, though no one knew who he was talking to.
He worked until it was too dark to see anything. The people just laid down in the street, waiting til morning.
Jesus and the disciples went inside.
And now, in the light of morning, Peter looked over to where he had seen Jesus leaning against the wall, whispering quietly in the dark. He was gone.
Peter started looking through the house. It didn’t take long. It was a small house. He looked out back. He whispered “Jesus.” Nothing. People were stirring in front of the house. People were stirring inside. And no Jesus.
Peter really panicked this time. He grabbed Andrew’s shoulder. “Come on. Out the back door. Quick.”
The disciples took off, running close to the ground, out of town.
“Where is he? It’s the perfect time for him. This is what we’ve been waiting for. Everyone is coming. None of that going to find people. The people are all showing up here.”
“What about that place up on the hill?” Andrew said. “It’s got a great view of the lake. And it’s quiet. I think it’s where he goes often.”
Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. Mark 1:21-39
How much fame can you walk away from to pursue your purpose? How much are you willing to look like you are running away as you move toward? How clearly do we know our why?