Mark 1:35
And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(35) A great while before day.—Literally, very early, while it was yet night. The note of time is peculiar to St. Mark. Prayer seems to have been sought now, as at other times, after a day of extraordinary and exhausting labour.

Mark 1:35-39. And in the morning, a great while before day Εννυχου λιαν, When the night was very far advanced, or, when it was yet deep night, he went out, &c. — Thus diligently did the Son of God labour for us! After the preceding day had been spent in preaching, and the evening in working miracles, Jesus allowed himself but a very short repose. And departed into a solitary place — Withdrawing not only from the multitude, but even from his disciples; for the company of the best friends is not always seasonable nor acceptable. There are times and cases when a true Christian would not be willing that his dearest friends should be witnesses of what passes between God and his soul. By retiring thus early in the morning for prayer, our Lord teaches that the morning is a fit season, yea, the best season, for private duties. Then our spirits are most fresh, and our minds most free, before the cares and distractions of the day have broken in upon us. It is better to go from prayer to business, than from business to prayer. But not only early in the morning, but at other convenient times, we find our Lord retiring to pour out his soul in prayer to his heavenly Father, hereby showing all his followers the great importance of cultivating communion with God in private: and those who are employed in his public service should especially attend to this, lest, while they keep the vineyard of others, their own should be neglected and empoverished. And Simon, &c., followed after him — When the day was somewhat advanced, and crowds of people came to inquire after him, Peter, and they that were with him — That is, those who have been already mentioned as his partners and companions, guessing where he was, went out and followed after him; and said, All men seek for thee — They were glad that their Master was become so popular already, and wished him to appear in public yet more in that place, because it was their own city, and men are apt to be partial to the places with which they are particularly acquainted, and in which they feel themselves peculiarly interested. And he said, Let us go into the next towns — The villages in the neighbourhood; that I may preach there also — And work miracles there; for therefore came I forth — Not to be constantly resident in one place, but to go about doing good. It being Christ’s design to propagate the gospel everywhere, he would not confine his ministry to any particular place, no, not to the great city of Capernaum; but resolves to preach the word in the smallest towns and villages. Herein he set ministers an instructive example, showing them that they must be as willing to preach the gospel in the smallest villages as in the largest cities, when God calls them thereunto. Let the place be never so obscure and mean, and the congregation never so small and poor, the greatest must not think it beneath them to go and instruct them, though but a handful of people. And he preached throughout all Galilee — Not drawn from his purpose by the persuasions, however importunate, of his friends. And cast out devils — Working also divers miracles to illustrate and confirm his doctrine. See on Matthew 4:23.

1:29-39 Wherever Christ comes, he comes to do good. He cures, that we may minister to him, and to others who are his, and for his sake. Those kept from public ordinances by sickness or other real hinderances, may expect the Saviour's gracious presence; he will soothe their sorrows, and abate their pains. Observe how numerous the patients were. When others speed well with Christ, it should quicken us in seeking after him. Christ departed into a solitary place. Though he was in no danger of distraction, or of temptation to vain-glory, yet he retired. Those who have the most business in public, and of the best kind, must yet sometimes be alone with God.And in the morning, rising up a great while before day - Luke says Luke 4:42, "when it was day." The passage in Mark means, in the original, not literally "a great while before day," but very early, or while there was yet "much appearance of night." The place in Luke means "at daybreak," at the beginning of day. Then, also, there is much appearance of night; and Luke and Mark therefore refer to the same time before it was fully light, or just at daybreak.

And departed into a solitary place, and there prayed - Observe here:

1. that the Saviour, though perfectly holy, regarded the duty of secret prayer as of great importance.

2. that he, sought a solitary place for it - far away from the world and even from his disciples.

3. that it was early in the morning - always the best time, and a time when it should not be omitted.

4. if Jesus prayed, how much more important is it for us!

If Jesus did it in the morning, how much more important is it for us, before the world gets possession of our thoughts; before Satan fills us with unholy feelings; when we rise fresh from beds of repose, and while the world around us is still! David also thus prayed, Psalm 5:3; Psalm 119:147. He that wishes to enjoy religion will seek a place of secret prayer in the morning. If that is omitted, all will go wrong, our piety will wither. The world will fill our thoughts. Temptations will be strong. Through the day, we shall find it impossible to raise our feelings to a state of proper devotion. It will be found to be true universally, "that the religious enjoyment through the day will be according to the state of the heart in the morning, and can therefore be measured by our faithfulness in early secret prayer." How different, too, was the conduct of the Saviour from those who spend the precious hours of the morning in sleep! He knew the value of the morning hours; he rose while the world was still; he saw the light as it spread abroad in the east with fresh tokens of his Father's presence, and joined with the universal creation in offering praise to the everywhere present God.

35. And in the morning—that is, of the day after this remarkable sabbath; or, on the first day of the week. His choosing this day to inaugurate a new and glorious stage of His public work, should be noted by the reader.

rising up a great while before day—"while it was yet night," or long before daybreak.

he went out—all unperceived from Peter's house, where He slept.

and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed—or, "continued in prayer." He was about to begin His first preaching and healing circuit; and as on similar solemn occasions (Lu 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28, 29; Mr 6:46), He spent some time in special prayer, doubtless with a view to it. What would one not give to have been, during the stillness of those grey morning hours, within hearing—not of His "strong crying and tears," for He had scarce arrived at the stage for that—but of His calm, exalted anticipations of the work which lay immediately before Him, and the outpourings of His soul about it into the bosom of Him that sent Him! He had doubtless enjoyed some uninterrupted hours of such communings with His heavenly Father ere His friends from Capernaum arrived in search of Him. As for them, they doubtless expected, after such a day of miracles, that the next day would witness similar manifestations. When morning came, Peter, loath to break in upon the repose of his glorious Guest, would await His appearance beyond the usual hour; but at length, wondering at the stillness, and gently coming to see where the Lord lay, he finds it—like the sepulchre afterwards—empty! Speedily a party is made up to go in search of Him, Peter naturally leading the way.

Secret prayer stands commended to us, as by the precept of Christ, Matthew 6:6, so by his frequent example, to teach us that our duty in prayer is not discharged without it: we are to pray with all prayer and supplication. There is in public and private prayer a more united strength and interest, but in secret prayer an advantage for more free and full communication of our souls unto God. Christ for this chooseth the morning, as the time freest from distractions and company; and a solitary place, as fittest for a secret duty.

And in the morning, rising up a great white before day,.... On the morrow after the sabbath, on the first day in the morning, notwithstanding the fatigue of the former day, through preaching and working miracles; yet he rose up very early while it was very much within the night, as the light and day were coming on, and before the day broke; though it might be broad day before he departed out of the house, as Luke suggests, Luke 4:42,

he went out; out of the house of Simon and Andrew, and out of the city of Capernaum, leaving his disciples and friends behind him:

and departed into a solitary place, and there he prayed; as man, to his God and Father; it may be for his disciples he had lately chosen; for himself, as man, that he might be strengthened as such for service; and for success in his ministry, and that his Gospel might run and be glorified; he chose a desert, and solitary place, for the sake of retirement, from the crowd of people that attended at Peter's door; where he could not be alone, and in private, and as most suitable for the exercise of prayer. His early and private devotion may be an example to us.

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Mark 1:35-39. Luke 4:42-44 is less characteristic and more generalized.

ἔννυχον λίαν] when it was still very dark. ἔννυχον is the accusative neuter of the definition of time, as σήμερον, αὔριον, νέον, etc. The word itself is often found also in classical writers, but not this adverbial use of the accusative neuter (3Ma 5:5; see, however, Grimm in loc.). Comp. ἐννυχώτερον, Aesop, Fab. 79. The plural form ἔννυχα (in Lachmann and Tischendorf, following B C D L א, min.) is, however, decisively attested, although likewise without sanction from Greek usage;[59] in Soph. Aj. 930, πάννυχα is adjective.

ἘΞῆΛΘΕ] out of his house, Mark 1:29. Comp. Mark 2:1.

ΚΑΤΕΔΊΩΞΑΝ] only occurring here in the N. T., more significant than the simple form, expressive of the following up till they reached Him; Thuc. ii. 84. 3; Polyb. vi. 42. 1; Sir 27:17; Psalm 22:18.

καὶ οἱ μετʼ αὐτοῦ] Andrew, John, and James, Mark 1:29. Under this expression is already implied the conception of the historical prominent position of Peter. But such an expression does not betray any special Petrine tendency of the Gospel.

πάντες] puts Jesus in mind of the multitude of yesterday, Mark 1:32; Mark 1:34.

ἈΛΛΑΧΟῦ] with a verb of direction, comp. Mark 1:28 and on Matthew 2:22. The following ΕἸς ΤᾺς ἘΧΟΜ. ΚΩΜΟΠ., into the nearest (Herod. i. 134; Xen. Anab. i. 8, iv. 9; Joseph. Antt. xi. 8. 6, and frequently; comp. Acts 13:44; Acts 21:26) villages, is a more precise definition of ἀλλαχοῦ. See Bornemann, Schol. in Luc. iv. 23, v. 35, and in the Stud. u. Krit. 1843, p. 127; Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 22.

κωμοπόλεις] villages, only used here in the N. T., but see the passages in Wetstein.

εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ ἐξῆλθον] for that (namely, to preach abroad also) is the object for which I have left the house, Mark 1:35. Schenkel invents here quite a different connection. In opposition to the context, others understand ἐξῆλθον of having come forth from the Father. So Euthymius Zigabenus, Maldonatus, Grotius, Bengel, Lange, and others; comp. Baumgarten-Crusius. A harmonizing with Luke 4:43.

[59] Hesychius has the adverb νύχα, equivalent to νύκτωρ.

Mark 1:35-39. Flight from Capernaum (Luke 4:42-44).

35–39. Solitary Prayer. Tour in Galilee

35. in the morning, … a great while before day] Another graphic touch of the Evangelist. He brings the scene before our eyes. The previous day had been a long day of conflict with and victory over the kingdom of sin and death. He now retires to refresh Himself in the heaven of prayer, in communion with His Father. He prepares Himself in the desert for a second great mission of Love, this time accompanied by His first four disciples.

a solitary place] “A remarkable feature of the Lake of Gennesaret was that it was closely surrounded with desert solitudes. These ‘desert places’ thus close at hand on the table-lands or in the ravines of the eastern and western ranges, gave opportunities of retirement for rest or prayer. ‘Rising up early in the morning while it was yet dark’ or ‘passing over to the other side in a boat,’ He sought these solitudes, sometimes alone, sometimes with His disciples. The Lake in this double aspect is thus a reflex of that union of energy and rest, of active labour and deep devotion, which is the essence of Christianity, as it was of the Life of Him, in whom that union was first taught and shewn.” Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, pp. 378, 379.

Mark 1:35. Ἔννυχον, in the depth of night [a great while before day]) Day and night He was on the watch for our salvation. Hence also is evinced the eagerness of the apostles and the people: see the following verses.—προσηύχετο, He was in prayer) specially for the apostles: see following verse.

Verse 35. - And in the morning, at great while before day, he rose up and went out, and departed into a desert place, and there prayed. Our Lord thus prepared himself by prayer for his first departure on a missionary tour. This would be the morning of the first day of the week. A great while before day he left the scene of excitement. That was not a time for preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. The miracles attracted attention to him, but they were not the object for which he came. They were necessary as means of stirring and awakening men's minds, and of fixing their attention upon him and upon the great salvation which he came to reveal. So he left the miracles to do their subordinate work; and he himself went into a desert place, that he might pray with more quiet and less distraction. He retired that he might escape the applause of men, which they were ready to lavish upon him after seeing so many miracles; that he might thus teach us to shun the praise of men. Let us learn from Christ to give the early morning to prayer, and to rise with the dawn of day, that we may have time for meditation, and give the firstfruits of the morning to God. The early morning is favorable for study; but it is specially dear to God and his angels. Mark 1:35A great while before day (ἔννυχα)

Lit., while it was in the night. The word is peculiar to Mark.

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