Mark 1:29-39 | 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B
Was Jesus an Introvert?
I love self-help, that idea that some all-knowing categorizer will identify me and explain exactly how I can use the way I am to become best, most realized person possible. But on every self-help quiz, I fall in the middle of at least two groups. It’s very tricky to figure out the best course of action to take in any area of my life.
But not everyone is so confusing. Take Jesus. Based on all my self-help education, I’d bet my last book Jesus was an introvert. He was always slipping off in the wee hours of the morning to pray. He needed to be by himself, and morning was often the only time he could get away from the throngs of people who flocked to Him. Not only did Jesus have a penchant for being alone, but He also had a pretty tight group of friends. And rarely did He go looking for groups of people. Instead, they found Him. Not that He ever turned any of them away.
In Mark, after Jesus had preached in the synagogue and called out the demon from the man there, He immediately went to Peter’s mother-in-law’s house and healed her. These miracles naturally drew a lot of attention, and so that same evening, the whole town of Capernaum came out with a host of illnesses for Jesus to heal and problems for Him to solve. That’s enough to make even an extrovert tired.
So, what did a presumed introvert like Jesus do? The next morning, “very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place where he prayed” (v. 35). He needed to reconnect with Himself and with His God before He could continue.
Of course, His friends found Him. More people clamored for cures. Jesus agreed to go but told them, “Let us go…that I may preach there. It is for this purpose that I have come” (v. 38). I think Jesus’s primary mission was to teach. Before He cured the demoniac in the synagogue, He taught “as one having authority” which left His listeners “astonished” (v. 22). People thought they needed healing. “Just heal me,” I can hear them cry. “Then I’ll listen all you want.” His miracles drew the crowds. But His teaching brought internal change, the heart of what He had come to do.
Jesus’s teaching and miracles was a push-pull situation. He’d come to teach, and people needed that—even more than the healing they wanted. But healing was what drew them, and while His reputation as a teacher was significant, His reputation as a healer brought out the throngs. Can you imagine Jesus in the time of social media? Whenever Jesus did heal, He let them know their sins were also forgiven. Though the recipients might not have realized it, the latter was the better gift.
Jesus wasn’t worried about what category He belonged in. He figured out the best course for His life by staying in touch with His Father. That relationship allowed Him to flex, to adapt, to meet people where they were. Perhaps we should do the same.