Jesus had boundaries.
This shocked me the first time I realized this.
I wondered, How could Jesus be loving and still say NO to people who needed him?
However, the longer I’ve lived — and the more I’ve walked with Jesus — I’ve learned that Jesus never could have fulfilled the most important ministry in the world.
In today’s devotional passage, we’ll see Jesus’ boundaries in action:
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Mark 1:35–39 ESV
Can you imagine saying no to people you could heal?
In our text, it seems like that’s what Jesus did.
He said “NO!” to all of those blind men and crippled women he could have helped. Why wouldn’t he stay?
When No Means Yes
Boundaries mean establishing what you will do and won’t do. Jesus’ decision not to stay when everyone wanted him to shows us his commitment to those boundaries. And, in verse 38, he explains why he said no to all of those people begging him to stay a little longer.
Jesus said to the disciples, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”
By saying no to staying, Jesus said yes to preaching in the next towns.
Jesus helped so many more people by saying no than he would have by saying yes.
How did he know to decline?
Look at verse 35: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
Develop A Listening Habit
Saying no requires we understand our calling. And to understand our calling means we have to listen to God.
Where is the Holy Spirit leading you?
Jesus knew exactly what he was about because he prioritized time alone to pray and listen to the Father. This was a constant habit and rhythm in his life.
It’s infinitely easier to stick to your boundaries when you know where you’re headed.
There are two keys to setting boundaries like Jesus:
- Get alone with God so you can learn his plan,
- And redefine what NO means.
Do you have boundaries like Jesus?
PS: For more on setting biblical boundaries, pick up the phenomenal book, Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.