Sunday, February 08, 2009

Mark.1.29-39; Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany; February 8, 2009


And immediately [Jesus] left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed 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. 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 1:29-39, ESV)

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Mark is a fast paced Gospel. He won’t let Jesus stand still. Did you notice that we are still in chapter one. Just glancing back to the beginning we see a very active Jesus. He’s baptized, tempted by Satan, he calls his disciples; he heals people and throws out demons. But most importantly, he preaches. In fact the very first words we hear from Jesus in this gospel are a sermon.

and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15, ESV)

And all of it is laced together by the word “immediately.” It emphasizes what Jesus is doing, almost like the time is critical. Remember last week, we had Jesus casting out a demon in the synagogue (after he preached) and telling the demon to “shut up.” The demon wanted to tell everyone who Jesus was. Jesus wants to show us who his is. And immediately after that he leaves the synagogue and goes to Peter’s house. Peter’s mother-in-law is sick and immediately they tell Jesus and she is healed. Notice too how she gets up and serves right away. It’s like she had never been sick. Her strength is back full force.

After the sun went down the town’s people begin to stir. At first it sounds strange to us but remember this is the Sabbath day in Israel. And remember for the Jews, the new day starts at sunset, so once the sun goes down the Sabbath is over so they are allowed to move about again. They have been waiting all day after hearing about Jesus casting out the demon in the synagogue earlier. Mark tells us that they brought “all who were sick and oppressed by demons.” The news has spread everywhere in town. “the whole city was gathered together at the door.” Really the way Mark writes it he gives us a picture of the folks all standing around at the front door of Peter’s house, looking at it, waiting in anticipation of Jesus doing what they want him to do. They want him to heal the sick folks they’ve brought. And Jesus does just that. He heals and throws out the demons. And again notice how he won’t let the demons speak. They know who Jesus is. They are trying to shout out “You are the Son of God, the Messiah!” But Jesus prevents them. Like we talked about last week, he doesn’t want the people to come to know who he is from the shouts of demons.

After all the sickness and demons are taken care of everyone goes to bed. But early in the morning, actually in the middle of the night, (very early in the morning) Jesus gets up and goes out to pray. When the disciples get up they don’t find him and the go looking for him. Actually, there seems to be a bit if anger in their search, the word Mark uses a word that means to track down or hunt. Apparently the crowds have all gathered again, ready for Jesus to continue doing what he was doing last night. “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus has different ideas. He doesn’t go back to the house. Instead he tells them it’s time to move on. Notice again the detail that Mark gives us. “Let’s go to the neighboring towns, so that I can preach there, because that is why I have come out.” And that’s what he does.

Again Mark seems to give us a Jesus that might make us a bit uncomfortable. Last week we saw him say “Shut up” and today we see him ignoring people in desperate need. Jesus prefers preaching. But remember the disciples don’t get it either. They wonder why he’s gone out on his own when there’s so much to do with the folks that have gathered around.

These are people just like you and me. Put yourself in the crowd, and with the disciples. You know what it’s like to be sick and suffering. You’ve come to the altar here in pray for Jesus to do something different. Remember, suffering is a constant. They had friends with cancer, sons and daughters who were injured in accidents. There were women who had lost their husbands, and father’s who were separated from their children. These were people who saw the helpless looks in doctor’s eyes. There were people in pain from the loss of a child. They were human beings, just like you and me, who had an intimate relationship with disease and suffering. And just like you and me, they wanted it to end. And, according to St. Mark, that night at Peter’s house Jesus healed them all. But that morning they were left wanting more.

We can easily think that this is all there is to Jesus. I think this is what Jesus is trying to avoid. That’s why he doesn’t go back to the house. He moves on to preach because that’s what he has come to do. It’s easy to see Jesus as a miracle worker instead of a Savior. Of course the hope of all Christians is the promise of the whole creation restored, an end to sickness and the control of Satan over people. Jesus is all about doing just that. That’s what Jesus is talking about when he preaches,

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15, ESV)

God is staring you in face. He is here setting things right again. You can see the start of it, the demons go out not screaming, sickness and death are in Jesus hands. But let’s not get sidetracked from what Jesus has come to do. It involves suffering and death. The world is being set right because God has come, staring you in the face, to bring forgiveness of sins. All that pain and heartache; all that illness and death are the result of sin. In this we all have our own part. There are times when we suffer because of specific sins we have done, smoking too much causes cancer; unfaithfulness in marriage leads to broken marriages and divorce… the evil things we all do fill our lives with consequences. The world is troubled by sickness and death because it is populated by sinful people. You and I live troubled lives because we are sinful. But we even have trouble that is not directly related to our sin. Sometimes illness comes for no fault of our own. Sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes life runs out of control and there is nothing we have done or can do to control it.

Dearest fellow sinner, Jesus shows us what life forever with him will be like; an end to sickness and death; an end to Satan’s control over our lives. Picture Peter’s mother-in-law joyfully serving after the fever was taken out of her. Our Savior took her by the hand and it left her. She was at full strength to serve. And so it will be for you and me, but for now Jesus doesn’t go back to the house, for now we continue to live in this sinful world. We would have Jesus stay and heal.

But Jesus must go to the cross, because sickness and demons isn’t the root of the problem. They are simply the signs of the real sickness. In Jesus preaching he says, “Repent and believe the good news.” The good news is that Jesus has come to do away with sin. You see we are sicker than we realize. We are more diseased than we can see. Sin is our problem and it requires something more than surface healing. It requires the cross. It requires our death. Jesus heads for the cross to be our death for us. And Jesus won’t be sidetracked from that purpose. His death on the cross heals our sin-sickness. The healing of our sin-sickness leads to the healing of our bodies. That’s what we confessed just moments ago. “I believe in the resurrection of the dead.” The Apostles’ Creed says “the resurrection of the body” not “the resurrection of the soul.” Forgiveness of sins and healing of the body are directly connected in the cross. When we see Jesus on the cross we are seeing our helplessness. We cannot heal ourselves. No where do we see our total need for salvation more clearly. It takes God become man in Jesus Christ. We lie in our sin and sickness like Peter’s mother in law. Jesus grasps us with a pierced hand and saves us. He lifts us up out of our sin-sickeness and we live. His death on the cross means forgiveness for us. This is a picture of our salvation, both now as we live every day in faith and finally, when our Lord reaches out to raise our dead body from the grave. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this sermon.