Mark 1:35-45 Healing of the Leper (Not really the point) I mostly read the English Standard Version. Why? Because I like it. I am beginning to appreciate different translations more and more. Many will debate the accuracy of this one, the readability of that one, and the intent of another … blah, blah, blah. It all makes me realize the sovereignty God and how amazing His Word really is. His amazing love and grace is not limited by our ability to read or hear, much less our ability to write or properly interpret dead languages. No offense to those who have dedicated their life to reading, interpreting, translating and teaching classical biblical languages. My son-in-law and many others in my family have made this their life’s work and have touched many lives through their pursuit. God uses them to provide us with new insights and perspectives from an unchanging God to an ever changing people. My point? If God wants to speak to me and my need out of a translation or paraphrase translated and written by an ass, well, it would not be the first time.
All of this to say that a word in verse 35 jumped out at me … ’desolate’.
“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.”
This word is not used in any other translation that I could find. It is usually translated with ‘lonely’ or ‘deserted’ or a close synonym. ‘Desolate’ may very well be a “bad” translation, but it said something to me.
des•o•late [adj. des-uh-lit; v. des-uh-leyt] Show IPA adjective, verb, des•o•lat•ed,des•o•lat•ing. adjective
- barren or laid waste; devastated: a treeless, desolate landscape
- deprived or destitute of inhabitants; deserted; uninhabited.
- solitary; lonely: a desolate place.
- having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.
- dreary; dismal; gloomy: desolate prospects. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/desolate)
Jesus had just made the decision to take the show on the road, so to speak. Knowing that a small town ministry was about to explode may have added to the reality of the task at hand. He needed to be ready and these fisherman he had gathered were not going to be much help. so He had to go to the only One that could give Him comfort and assurance. When I see the word ‘desolate’ I see Jesus’s humanity. He knew what was coming and like in the garden later on, He was not relishing this next step. If you were Him and could see into the future for the next 3 years, how would you picture the landscape? #5 dreary; dismal; gloomy: desolate prospects. or perhaps #1 barren or laid waste; devastated: a treeless, desolate landscape. How would you feel? #4 having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.
The place that he went to pray may not have been any of these things, but seeing the path laid before Him, I can imagine that when He fell on the ground before His Father, the landscape of prayer that He found himself in may have pretty desolate. Did He really expect that leper He healed in verses 41 & 42 to keep quiet? Maybe, He was hoping that He could buy a little more time before things kicked into high gear. Maybe not, but I know that I would be scrambling for a little more time!
I am sort of a morning person. The peace and beauty of the morning, with the gentle sounds of birds or rain or wind, allow me to feel God’s presence in a special way. Unless …
‘Then lead on!’ said Boromir. “But it is perilous.’
‘Perilous indeed,’ said Aragorn, ‘fair and perilous; but only evil need fear it, or those who bring some evil with them.’ (JRR Tolkien: Fellowship of the Ring)
Although it may not be evil that I bring with me to the Lord, (obviously it was not evil that Jesus brought) but the landscape of prayer that I enter is often dark and dismal because of the fear, doubt, and burdens that I bring. Sometimes those quiet mornings become pretty creepy and that place of peace seems pretty desolate. When I feel unprepared or unqualified for a task before, I often catch myself doing a little prayer dance around the issue.
I think God understands that I bring these things with me to the prayer closet and He rejoices that I am there. I don’t always get off my knees fired up to enter the fray, but I get up knowing that He is with me.
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:11,12)