Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
At the tender age of 30, I already find that I’m becoming quite forgetful. I’m renowned at school for being absolutely hopeless at remembering names. I also occasionally suffer from that problem that older people often tell me about – that one where you walk into a room and can’t remember what you went there for. At home, my study is in the attic room. Sometimes, when I’m working on my laptop in the sitting room, I’ll think of something I need to get, walk up two flights of stairs, then get into my study and completely forget what I went in there for. Normally I remember as soon as I get back to the sitting room and have to climb the stairs again! Still, it’s good exercise, and I certainly need that at the moment!
Jesus didn’t seem to suffer from this problem. He always knew his purpose for being on earth, and never lost sight of his ministry. You wouldn’t have found Jesus wandering around first century Palestine wondering what he went there for. He is quite explicit in this verse – he had come to be amongst his people with the specific purpose of preaching the gospel. He knew exactly what his mission on earth was – to tell people about the good news, that if we believe in him, accept him as our saviour, and repent of our sins, we will have eternal life with God in the new creation. He was consequently looking out for new places to preach. He didn’t simply focus his efforts on the big cities, either. His was an inclusive ministry; he doesn’t neglect the smaller towns and villages because not so many people lived there, but went to share the gospel with these smaller population settlements. Here, Mark tells us that Jesus wanted to visit the nearby villages so that he could preach there also. Jesus has already used the language of fishing for people; here it becomes clear that he’s not just concerned with getting a big catch, but for ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to hear him.
Clearly Jesus considered his gospel worth sharing. Perhaps we should make sure, therefore, that we are listening. Even more than that, perhaps we too should be concerned with sharing the gospel with everyone we can, even when our catch might be small in number. Maybe that is our purpose for being here too.