On the night before, Jesus had healed many people and cast out demons as we discussed yesterday. No doubt his popularity was growing by leaps and bounds in Capernaum and the surrounding area. He arose before daylight, left Peter's house, and went out to a secluded place where He could pray alone. It is generally easier to properly commune with God alone than in the company of friends (cf. Matt. 6:6). Jesus obviously felt the importance and need of prayer because He prayed often. For example, He prayed: (1) at His baptism (Luke 3:21), (2) before choosing the twelve apostles (Luke 6:12), (3) before and after feeding the five thousand (Mark 6:41,46), (4) on the mount of transfiguration (Luke 9:28), (5) as He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41,42), (6) for Peter before his denials (Luke 22:32), (7) in Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-39), (8) on the cross (Mark 15:34), and (9) after His resurrection (Luke 24:30). If Jesus, the Son of God, needed prayer time alone with the Father, how much more does man today need it (cf. I Thess. 5:17)? There are at least two reasons why Jesus may have prayed specifically at this time: (1) for strength not to give in to the temptation of vanity to stay in that area where the people loved Him and praised Him for His miracles, and (2) for preparation for His first missionary tour He is about to embark upon (cf. Mark 1:39).
Mark 1:36 indicates that when the others awoke and found Jesus "missing," they went out looking for him. Once they found Jesus, they lightly chastised Him for not being present by stating, "Everyone is looking for You" (1:37). Peter and the others did not hesitate to intrude upon Jesus' privacy. The disciples thought that catering to the desires of the people should be His primary concern. They, at this time, do not comprehend the overall focus of Jesus' work. They are elated by the sudden popularity of Jesus, and they probably thought they were bringing Him good news. No doubt they were surprised by His response, and the people would be saddened by His departure since they were benefiting from His miracles.
"Let us go into the next towns that I may preach there also" (1:38). Jesus' emphasis was upon preaching and not upon working miracles, although both were necessary to His ministry. Jesus came forth from the Father (John 16:28) and His primary purpose was "to seek and save the lost" (Luke 19:10). This would be accomplished fundamentally by preaching (cf. John 8:31,32). However, Jesus' miracles and His teachings went hand in hand. The miracles attracted the attention of the people initially, and then He would teach them. But, after having been taught, many were unsure or reluctant to follow Him. Thus, He would perform more miracles. Then some would follow for a time, and He would teach some more, etc. This is an important cycle seen throughout Jesus' ministry.
Mark 1:39 records that Jesus and His disciples left Capernaum and traveled throughout all Galilee. This region was approximately 50 miles long and 25 miles wide. Jesus did a lot of His preaching in the synagogues and continued to perform many miraculous healings and exorcisms. His popularity continued to grow (cf. Matt. 4:23-25).