Many Bible students miss the importance of Jesus’ solitude and silence. Every pastor, ministry leader, missionary, and caregiver — any disciple of Jesus! — needs to learn from Jesus’ example of intimacy with God. I don’t want to miss this! So I went back to the Gospel of Mark and did a Bible study on Jesus’ solitude and silence.
Continually Jesus withdrew from people, daily life activities, and the demands of his ministry to be alone with the Father and pray. Jesus’ solitude and silence is a major theme in the Gospels. His ongoing, intimate relationship with his Abba was the source of his compassion, wisdom, and power that we see on every page of the Gospels.
The priority of Jesus’ solitude and silence is everywhere in the Gospels. It’s how he began his ministry. It’s how he made important decisions. It’s how he dealt with troubling emotions like grief. It’s how he dealt with the constant demands of his ministry and cared for his soul. It’s how he taught his disciples. It’s how he prepared for important ministry events. It’s how he prepared for his death on the cross.
Jesus invites us to join him in his solitude so we can know God as Abba too and share his love with others.
Even Mark Can Be Unhurried with Jesus
How could we miss the significance of Jesus’ solitude and silence with the Father? How could we think that we can live well or love well without following Jesus’ example? Mark doesn’t miss it!
Many Bible scholars say that Mark tells his gospel in a hurry. Indeed his favorite expression is “immediately” (or “at once”) which he uses 39 times (NASB). He is so excited to tell us about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus! He even skips the story of Jesus’ birth. He gets out the Gospel of Jesus much faster than any of the other Gospel writers. (It takes only about an hour and fifteen minutes to read the Gospel of Mark straight through.)
But, like Jesus, Mark is not really in a hurry — except to get to the cross! (See Mark 10:32 when Jesus was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem where his cross waited.) Mark may be breathless with enthusiasm to share the Good News that Jesus has made the Kingdom of God available to us, but repeatedly he pauses to give us glimpses into Jesus’ solitude and silence with the Father.
In this way Mark invites us to join him and be unhurried with Jesus. Imagine if your way of life were to be unhurried with Jesus–you’d feel peace, hear God’s voice better, and experience more of God’s grace and wisdom in your relationships and work.
Bible Verses on Jesus’ Solitude and Silence
Here is a chronological survey of Bible verses from Mark that highlight Jesus’ solitude and silence. (I’ve added a few verses from the other Gospels as well. All verses are from the NIV84 unless indicated otherwise.)
“At once the Spirit sent [Jesus] out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” (Mark 1:12)
“Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee… ‘Come, follow me,’ he said.” (Mark 1:16)
“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.” (Mark 1:35) [Everyone was looking for Jesus, but after his time in prayer he told his disciples that it was time for them to move on to another village.]
“[Despite Jesus’ plea that his miracles be kept secret] the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16; see also Mark 1:45)
“Once again Jesus went out beside the lake.” (Mark 2:13)
“Jesus went out to a mountain side to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him.” (Luke 6:12-13. See also Mark 3:13)
“When Jesus heard [that John the Baptist had been beheaded], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” (Matthew 14:13)
“Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to [his disciples], ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” (Mark 6:31-32?
As you reflect on Jesus’ rhythm of taking time away from his ministry work to embrace deeper intimacy with his Father through solitude and silence, what would it look like for you to adopt this same rhythm in your life? Let the joy of the Lord bubble up anew in your time set aside with him! Like a child invited to climb into her father’s lap, solitude and silence invites you to rest in the truth that you are a “dearly loved child” of God (Ephesians 5:1)
You can learn more about Solitude and Silence and how to embrace it with joy in your life with Jesus here: Solitude and Silence.
This article is submitted by David Rimoldi of Soul Shepherding. Soul Shepherding is a Missio Nexus member. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.