When Jesus Said “No”

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. 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. 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.' Mark 1:29-38 (NIV)

As Mark opens up his account of Jesus’ ministry, he portrays the Savior on a healing spree, driving out demons from a man in the synagogue and healing Peter’s mother-in-law at her home in Capernaum. That same evening, “the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door and Jesus healed many.”

Not surprisingly, the next morning the disciples rushed to Jesus and said, “Everyone is looking for you!” Clearly the town had gotten wind of Jesus’ miraculous powers to heal and wanted an encore on day two. But Jesus said no. In what likely came as a shock to the disciples, Jesus said, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”

This is the first, but certainly not the last time we hear Jesus utter the word “no” in the gospels. Why did Jesus say “no”? Clearly he had the power to heal more people. Clearly he had the desire to alleviate the pain in these people’s lives. But while Jesus may have wanted to heal more people, He knew He had limited time on earth to fulfill his “purpose.” Jesus didn’t come to earth just to heal and reveal His identity. He came to preach about the gospel in preparation for the Passion He would perform on the cross. Jesus was crystal clear on His purpose and this led Him to say no to good things in order to focus on the essential thing He came to earth to do.

If Jesus couldn’t say yes to everything, neither can we. You and I have limited time and resources. To make the most of the time we have left, it is critical that we get super clear on what we believe God has called us to do and get in the habit of saying no to opportunities—even really good ones—that distract us from our essential mission.

Remember, you are alive for a purpose! I pray the Scriptures we have explored over the past six weeks will challenge us to be wise about how we spend what time we have left on this earth, using the final hours to love God, love others, and make disciples of Jesus Christ through our lives and our work.


50% Complete

Join 100,000+ Christians who receive my weekly devotional every Monday morning!