There are several chiastic structures in Mar 1. One that caught my attention this morning is:
1a) Mar 1:21-22, He entered the synagogue at Capernaum and taught with authority;
1b) Mar 1:23-27, He cast out an unclean spirit who proclaimed Him to be the Holy One of God;
1c) Mar 1:28, His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee;
central axis) Mar 1:29-31, Jesus healed Simon’s mother- in- law of a fever;
2c) Mar 1:32-33, They brought the sick to Him so that the whole city was gathered at the door;
2b) Mar 1:34, He cast out demons and did not allow them to speak because they knew who He was;
2a) Mar 1:35-39, He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee + casting out demons.
The 2a element is messy, and doesn’t neatly pair with the 1a element without loose ends, LOL. That is because it itself forms a smaller chiastic structure:
1a) Mar 1:34, All came to Him in the house + He healed them and cast out demons;
1b) Mar 1:35a, He departed to a solitary place long before daylight;
central axis) Mar 1:35b, And there He prayed;
2b) Mar 1:36-37, Simon found Him there and said, Everyone is looking for You;
2a) Mar 1:38-39, He went throughout all Galilee + preaching and casting out demons.
In other words, the whole city came to Him in the 1a element, and in the 2a element, He came to the whole region. He responds to man’s drawing near to Him, by drawing near to them.
This smaller structure neatly pairs with the 1a element of the larger structure, in that:
He entered the synagogue at Capernaum = He entered the synagogues throughout all Galilee.
He cast out an unclean spirit who proclaimed Him = He cast out unclean spirits whom He refused to allow to proclaim Him.
The messy details which do not seem to repeat in some way are:
He taught with authority =/ He departed to a solitary place to pray.
Scripture sets up this puzzle to draw our attention to the fact that they do not, at first glance, seem to compare. But that is the teaching tool. Jesus was able to teach with authority, and minister with authority, because He departed to a solitary place to pray. Someone will say, I thought the power came from being baptized with the Holy Spirit! Yes, that is crucial. But we cannot miss that successful public ministry requires being alone with the Father in prayer, in solitary places.
There is a second witness that the Spirit and power alone is not enough — for successful public ministry with authority. Jesus said that many will cast out demons in His name and do many mighty miracles in His name (power of the Spirit), but He will command them to depart from Him because He never knew them (no time alone with the Father in prayer in a solitary place), in Mat 7:21-23.
Is God calling us into deeper and greater ministry? Then let us not neglect deeper and greater time alone with the Father in prayer, in a solitary place!