Summary: Following Christ is a summons to do his work in the world, and to do it in a manner that is reflective of Christ's own work. This means we have to continue Christ's healing ministry, spread the gospel -- knowing when its time to "move-on," and in the mids
Time magazine reported in a short blurb last week that the average American worker spends $1,092 per year on coffee. Clearly, I’m not the only one who enjoys a good cup of coffee. And you don’t have to go any farther than the local Starbucks to know that people like their coffee, “just so.” But recently, Starbucks has been getting a lot of complaints from people feeling like their coffee wasn’t just the way it was supposed to be. Surveys have revealed that many people give Starbuck’s pricey drinks only an average rating. Customers also complain that Starbucks has reduced “the fine art of making coffee to a mechanized process with all the romance of an assembly line.” So the company has instructed baristas to start slowing down as they make drinks.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, baristas all over the country have been told to stop making multiple drinks and focus on no more than two drinks at a time. Baristas will also start steaming the milk for only one drink at a time, instead of steaming an entire pitcher of milk. They also must use only one espresso machine at a time. Apparently, Starbucks is learning to slow down and smell the coffee. Unfortunately, in response to this increased concern for quality, Starbucks customers are already complaining that they have to wait longer for their “Grande no-whip low-fat extra-hot pumpkin spice lattes.” Clearly, the key to a great Starbucks coffee requires a juggling act that is still being perfected!
If we learn nothing else from this morning’s passage, we at least get a glimpse of the varied demands of discipleship, not unlike those of a barista in Starbucks. But before we get into the juggling act of discipleship, let’s look first at the beginning of the discipleship journey and the center of this story, the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law. Jesus has just cast a demon out of a person in the synagogue in Capernaum. He leaves the place of worship and heads to Simon Peter’s house with four of his disciples. We don’t know why Jesus and these disciples went to Simon’s house; perhaps they were looking for a place to have something to eat, or to get some rest. It is, after-all, the Sabbath. Whatever the reason for going there, when they arrive at the house, they find Simon’s mother-in-law in bed and sick with a fever. Then we are told that Jesus “went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them.”
The verb translated as “raised her up” is the same word used to describe Jesus’ own resurrection later on in Mark. In other words, the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law can be looked at as a metaphor for resurrection or Christian conversion! When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are raised to new life in Christ, to new purpose in Christ! Or to put it more accurately, we are raised to live the life we were created to live in the first place! And this is the beginning of the discipleship journey.
Before Jesus healed and saved her, Simon Peter’s mother-in-law had a fever. She was sick. She was immobile. And isn’t this, in a sense, the way we all are before we come to know Christ? We could pretty much say that this entire world is “sick in bed with a fever.” We are paralyzed and unable to do what we are created to do. Isn’t that how you feel when you are sick and in bed with a fever? You don’t feel like doing anything. And all you can think about is how miserable you feel. All you can think about is yourself. We live in a self-absorbed culture. People are sick with the fever of discontent. And so they run after all kinds of remedies in order to try and treat their sickness. Some run after money and materialism, but the fever remains. Others become involved in addictive behaviors, but these things only make them more and more sick. Yet, in the midst of it all, Christ reaches out his hand to us and we are re-created as Christ raises us to new life. The resurrection of Jesus Christ works itself out in our individual lives in the moment when the fever breaks, the sickness subsides, and we get up out of bed!
That is exactly what happened to Simon’s mother-in-law. After Jesus took her hand and raised her up, the fever left her and she immediately began to serve. When we reach out and allow Christ to take our hands and pull us out of the messiness of our lives; out of the stress, addiction, depression, worry, and everything else that afflicts us, we can do nothing less than begin to serve him immediately! That’s what discipleship is all about! We are saved to serve!