Posted on Sun, Feb 5, 2012
February 5, 2012
5th Sunday in Epiphany
Gospel Text: Mark 1:29-39 “Everyone is searching for you.”
Jesus Heals Many at Simon’s House
29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31 He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34 And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
A Preaching Tour in Galilee
35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ 38 He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Jesus and his little band were in the synagogue, reading and studying the scriptures, praying and maybe even singing. They probably stepped out of the darkish building into the brightness of the day. Capernaum, which is where they were, is a bright cheerful little fishing village on the Sea of Galilee. I’ve been to this place several times, and archeologists even seem to think they know the exact house Jesus visited, where Simon’s family lived and where today’s miracle occurred. But I picture them stepping out of the synagogue into the sudden brightness of the day, talking eagerly about the text they just heard and talked about, and I can just hear them talking and wondering amongst themselves what the story might have meant, and its relationship to them this day. Much like we may do today. They probably had a quiet destination on their minds, maybe someplace along the shore where they can get some lunch and a drink as they continued their discussion and enjoy a quiet Sabbath day.
But someone from Simon’s family comes running to the rabbi and Uncle Simon to inform them that Simon’s mother–in-law was very sick with a fever and they were to come home as soon as possible.
We can have the best of plans, and greatest hopes for our afternoon, but an emergency is an emergency, especially when there is sickness in the family. Off they all went, the teacher Jesus following the very worried Simon…
She must have been very sick, and there was probably a very real possibility that she was gravely ill. Whether it was a virus or bacteria, a fever was a dangerous symptom in those days.
They go to Simon’s house, and with a mere touch, she is healed. There is no talk about her faith, even the faith of the members of the household; according to the evangelist called Mark, it was simply the touch of Jesus that healed her.
What does this mean? What is Mark trying to teach us about Jesus?
It is early in the book of Mark, and he is letting us know more about the details of Jesus’ power. He has real power over our physical maladies. There is also a small detail that is often overlooked. Upon being healed, there is no gasp of unbelief or explanation of what just happened, but the woman who was healed, immediately began to serve them. This has nothing to do with subjugating women, but has everything to do with the proper response of the church after we have been healed through the forgiveness of our sins and the restoration of our relationship to God through the death and resurrection, the OBEDIENT ACTS of Jesus in FIRST SERVING US!
Upon being healed, the first appropriate action is to give thanks, but specifically, giving thanks by giving yourself in service!
Now, Capernaum is a small city, Simon is a big loud man who catches and sells fish. My hunch is that everyone in town knows Simon and his family. Upon hearing that this ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ has come to town and healed Simon’s mother-in-law, the word spreads like wild fire.
The entire town begins to desperately bring their sick, dying, or “possessed” family members to Simon’s house. I am not in the least surprised that Mark says that, “they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.”
After the past weeks I have had with so many people sick, displaced, confused or dying. This text has not left my mind since I first began preparing for today three weeks ago. So many hurting people, so many sick and dying people, and so many people confused because of all the voices they hear in their head… we pray, we care, we listen, and we hope some of them don’t listen too carefully to those voices.
Sometimes, when I felt great feelings of despair, all I could think about was, “Only if I had a time machine so that I could take so many of the suffering to Simon’s house to be with Jesus and be healed.”
Only if I could take them back to be with that crowd in that house 2000 years ago…
But then it hit me; we don’t have to go back in time to be with Jesus! We don’t have to go back in time to be in the presence of Jesus. We don’t have to go back in time to be touched by Jesus! And even if we could, and even if we were healed, they wouldn’t have gift that we have today.
Their bodies were healed, for a short while; but what about their hearts and their ultimate understanding about their relationship with their God?
They were living in the age before Easter, they were living in the age before Pentecost, we live in the age of the Holy Spirit; through the Holy Spirit and therefore the presence of Jesus, we live in the age where WE BECOME THE BODY OF CHRIST, and along with it, we are empowered to BE the Body of Christ, the Church.
I think Jesus understood the real issue here. There was true physical and mental pain on display here, and Jesus could heal them; but the only ones who really knew who Jesus’ true identity were the demons. Those entities that understand full well that it is in convincing us that when we think we are separated from God, or our relationship with God is blurred through doubt, they are the ones that need to be conquered. Jesus’ true job isn’t just to heal, but it is to serve all of God’s children by going to the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, to restore our relationship to God forever. As our savior, Jesus’ true job was to be obedient to the promise of fulfilling OUR salvation and forgiveness. Jesus was truly the “Servant King.”
It is a heavy task, a long journey that Jesus is just beginning to walk, and it is no wonder that before he goes one more step, he takes quiet time to pray, to focus himself, to reconnect with God and understand his true ministry and mission.
And yes, he had to find a quiet place to pray, a place away from all the hustle and bustle, and a place far away from the demands of all those who just wanted Him to heal their wounds and take their pain away.
That is what most people only appear to think they want, no pain, no fear, and clean and healthy bodies… Jesus is actually more interested in His relationship with us, and the power of our faith. He wants us to have a faith that moves mountains of guilt, injustice, hunger, and doubt. He wants us to have a faith that inspires us to walk in His discipline, without fear, and the conviction that is in serving that we are served, it is in giving that we receive, it is in loving that we experience love.
All of this would not come at a cheap price and easy to understand procedure… it would come through the obedient Holy One of God, giving his life for all of us, giving his life on the cross.
Through the cross we will be made free and whole, through His death, we will have life… and we will have life abundantly. Amen
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