Summary: Mark shows that Jesus is the authority right at the start of his ministry: He heals at a word or a touch, he drives away and silences demons, He was the authority then, He is the authority now.
Preview - (Before the reading of the Scripture)- As we read the Scripture this morning it may appear to us that Jesus is going about his day and we may get the message that Jesus is generous in his blessings. Though this is true, Jesus is more than generous, This passage is about authority, the authority of Jesus. In our sermon today, as we work through these verses, it will suddenly become apparent that Mark is showing us the great authority of Jesus, both in his time and in ours....
Jesus leaves the synagogue in Capernaum where he had driven an evil spirit out of a man and heads over to the home of Simon and Andrew, presumably to get something to eat. We saw last week that after Jesus had driven the evil spirit out of the man, the people in the congregation are alarmed and disturbed, rather that filled with great joy as we might expect, they are really shaken up. News about Jesus spreads like wild fire. People are freaked out and everyone hears about the unbelievable thing Jesus did and they have to come to see Jesus, but this is not a good thing – see people are coming to Jesus for good reasons, but not for the right reasons.
Things start off by Jesus and the four fishermen heading over to Simon and Andrew’s house. We’ll see up ahead in chapter three that Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter, but for now he is called Simon. Apparently Simon’s mother-in-law lives with him, so he must have been a man of great patience….. She would be with him if her husband had died and her own sons, if she had any, could not take care of her. Well, they all arrive to find Simon’s mother-in-law sick in bed with a fever – very bad news in that day and time. Jesus arrives, goes upstairs, and takes care of business. He takes her by the hand, and boom, she is well and ready to go, feeling so well that she starts waiting on the men, which means she is helping to serve the meal, probably lunch.
So Jesus heals Simon Peter’s mother in law…is that a good thing? Now the talk of the town is going to be: “Who is this man? He even heals a mother-in-law?”. Ok. I’m just kidding, I loved my mother-in-law. But that was too easy to pass up.
So Simon Peter’s mother-in-law gets up and starts serving. I can imagine that being healed by Jesus felt pretty good, how awesome would that be? I can imagine that she was walking on clouds. But, I think her getting up to help reflects more than just feeling good or an emotional state, she is expressing hospitality, honoring her guests, showing her love and respect for Jesus and the new disciples. Certainly she could have had a time of celebration for her healing and even run to tell the neighbors, awe them with her story and receive special treatment; certainly she could have bathed in self satisfaction and become the center of attention like many of those who Jesus healed – but she doesn’t, she thinks beyond herself and shows the Lord hospitality.
Several years ago, when I lived in San Antonio, the jr. high kids from our church were on an outing to the local lazar tag facility. When the kids arrived they were told that they were being bumped by a group of VIPs who had come to the facility just before them and so they had to wait an hour for their turn to play. The VIPs were none other than some of members of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team. Our kids looked on, greatly disappointed, as the basketball players had their fun. Then suddenly, one of the Spurs stopped cold as he noticed the kids sadly looking on. He left the game and came out to talk to the kids. The next thing you know these jr. high kids were playing lazar tag against NBA basketball players – how cool is that? These men couldn’t bear to have fun while others looked on, out of the game. It was a lesson in hospitality that our kids would never forget. These men were world champions, at the top of their game and could expect special treatment wherever they went, but they were able to see beyond their blessings and set time aside to play a game of lazar tag with kids they didn’t even know. Shouldn’t we be like that too? A healing, as Simon’s mother-in-law received is a wonderful blessing: How many times do we receive a wonderful blessing from God and selfishly use the blessing to turn the focus to ourselves…rather than God?
Simon’s mother-in-law is the example of the right reaction to Jesus Christ – the rest of the people in town are an example of the wrong reaction to Jesus Christ. Let’s see how. People apparently delay coming to find Jesus until after the Sabbath, which ends on Saturday at sundown. They delay out of respect, or more likely fear, of the religious leaders interpretation of the law for keeping the Sabbath, who said that one could not heal on the Sabbath, so they delay until the Sabbath is over. Wait. Hasn’t Jesus already healed on the Sabbath by healing Simon’s mother-in-law? Remember, we have already seen that Mark shows us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of confrontation, a gospel that demands not only self examination, but also an examination of the values around us so that we can confront the sin in our lives. So Mark, again shows Jesus confrontation with the values of the society of the day. Scripture doesn’t say no healing on the Sabbath, anywhere. The religious authorities by ruling that healing was not valid on the Sabbath had gutted the intent of the law by removing acts of mercy – Here in verse 31, right here in chapter one, right at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus puts mercy back. Yes the Gospel is about confrontation of our sin and yes the Gospel is insistent that we repent, believe and follow Jesus, but underneath the nature of confrontation is love, mercy and grace: for if we continue on the path we are on our sin will destroy our lives, so it is in mercy that we are confronted by the Gospel.