031214Mark 1:29–45—The healing of many in Galilee

29 After Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they went over to Simon and Andrew’s home, and James and John were with them. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. 31 He went to her bedside, and as he took her by the hand and helped her to sit up, the fever suddenly left, and she got up and prepared a meal for them.

32 That evening at sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. 33 And a huge crowd of people from all over Capernaum gathered outside the door to watch. 34 So Jesus healed great numbers of sick people who had many different kinds of diseases, and he ordered many demons to come out of their victims. But because they knew who he was, he refused to allow the demons to speak.

35 The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 They said, “Everyone is asking for you.” 38 But he replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too, because that is why I came.”  39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and expelling demons from many people.

40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you want to, you can make me well again,” he said. 41 Moved with pity, Jesus touched him. “I want to,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared—the man was healed. 43 Then Jesus sent him on his way and told him sternly, 44 “Go right over to the priest and let him examine you. Don’t talk to anyone along the way. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy, so everyone will have proof of your healing.” 45 But as the man went on his way, he spread the news, telling everyone what had happened to him. As a result, such crowds soon surrounded Jesus that he couldn’t enter a town anywhere publicly. He had to stay out in the secluded places, and people from everywhere came to him there.

Points of Interest:

  • ‘The fever suddenly left her’—Yesterday, we saw that Jesus’ kingdom is a spiritual kingdom—he displaces evil spirits by the power of the Holy Spirit. We see here that Jesus’ arrival isn’t just good news for those with spiritual problems. He has as much authority over disease as he has over unclean spirits, and sickness has as little place in his kingdom as demons do.
  • ‘Jesus went out alone in the wilderness to pray’—It’s comforting to note that Jesus himself depended on God to guide him. With all the demands of the people around him, he got alone to listen to God. It’s amazing that the Son of God, just after a 40 days silent retreat and after only one day of ministry, sought a quiet place to listen to God before making his next move.
  • ‘Jesus touched him’—This man was a leper. It was illegal to touch him. Anyone else who touched him would be considered sick himself and prohibited from public worship until he or she could prove that they hadn’t caught leprosy. When Jesus touched him, though, rather than Jesus becoming ‘unclean,’ the river reverses flow—Jesus’ cleanness spreads to the man.
  • ‘Moved with pity’—Jesus heals because he wants to, because he has compassion. He doesn’t need to be convinced or to be persuaded or to be bought. He wants to heal.
  • Jesus tells the man not to tell anyone, but he spreads the news everywhere he goes. Probably, the man figures that no harm can come of it. He might think Jesus is just being humble, and he might actually thank the man for spreading the news. Even though the man can’t see any harm, his choice has drastic consequences for himself and for Jesus. On his part, unless he goes to the priest, despite the fact that he no longer is ill, he will be still be officially a leper. The effect on Jesus is perhaps even more dramatic: remarkably, he has to change his whole approach to ministry: whereas he would prefer to be going to the towns, he now has to have people come to him.

Taking it home:

  • For you: How often are our days dominated by the urgency of everyone asking for us. It is so easy for my life to be driven by the telephone and my e-mail. I come into the office and say, “Let me just check my e-mail quickly before I get started.” The next thing I know, it’s 2 o’clock, or 5, or 7. And my entire day was driven by an unreflective urgency. Before you turn on your computer or check voice mail today (or tomorrow if it’s too late), pause, get as quiet as you can, and ask God what he has in store for you today.
  • For your 6: For so many of our six, the big question they have is the leper’s question: “Do you want to do anything about my problem?” Basically, they wonder, does Jesus care? Ask Jesus to demonstrate his care by filling some need of your 6. If your relationship allows for it, consider sharing this story of the leper with them. If they have the faith to do so, encourage them to pray the leper’s prayer: “If you want to, you can help me.”
  • For our church: share the good news with people outside of our church and local community. Pray for Journey’s ministries that reach beyond us—Hope for the Homeless, Twice Treasured Thrift Store, and Journey Food Bank. Pray for the young churches we are assisting and their pastors—that they will be powerful messengers of Jesus’ good news in these new places. Pray for the ministries in Haiti, Tecate, Africa and Asia that we are a part of.