Summary: Epiphany 5 (B). Christ comes about us in the ordinary events of daily life. He comes to us, lifts us up, and restores us to wholeness, that we may live to serve Him and serve others.
May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.
“First House on the Left”
In our reading from Mark, today, Jesus continues in His ministry. You will recall that He had been proclaiming, “The reign of God is at hand.” He was at the synagogue in Capernaum, and had cast an unclean spirit out of a man. Now the service is over, and Jesus and his disciples leave the synagogue. They go to the home of Simon and Andrew.
The ruins of the synagogue and of this house are still standing in Capernaum today. You can go there and stand where Jesus cast out the unclean spirit, and walk to the home of Simon and Andrew. As you leave the synagogue, to their house, it's not more than from here to the front door of our church. It’s the first house on the left. And even if our archeology is a bit off, we can see from the text that the house was not far off. Remember, this is the Sabbath day, and one could only walk as far as to the synagogue, and back. So the home is relatively close by.
Jesus comes into their home. Simon’s mother-in-law is ill. She is lying down with a great fever. The disciples tell Him of her condition. He goes in to see her. Reaching out, he takes her by the hand and lifts her up. The fever leaves her, and she gets busy being the hostess.
Jesus has performed two miracles that morning, one at the synagogue casting out the unclean spirit, the other here, healing Simon’s mother-in-law of her fever. Notice the differences between the two. In the synagogue, the miracle was occurred in a special place, set apart for God. Secondly, it happened in front of a crowd. Also, it was of an unusual nature – casting out an unclean spirit. It was an extraordinary occurrence. In contrast, this healing occurred in an ordinary place: the home of Simon and Andrew, the first house on the left. It happened in private. Whether the disciples saw Jesus raise her up, or not, the text does not say. But either way, it was a small handful of people, just the family, unlike the whole assembly of the synagogue. And this healing concerned an event of everyday life, a fever, albeit a great one. The healing confronted an ordinary trial – illness – rather than the extraordinary demonic possession.
So, what do we see in this healing miracle of Jesus? First, we see that Jesus comes to us. Jesus had been in the synagogue when he cast out the spirit. He was in a special place, a sacred place. But Jesus does not stay there. He leaves the synagogue and cmes into Simon’s home, the first house on the left. Our Savior does not stay in His temple, and demand that we find our way to God. He knows our condition. He knows that we “cannot be our own reason or strength believe or come to Him.” So He comes to us. He is Emmanuel. God with us. Simon’s mother-in-law did not have to leave the house to get to Jesus. In fact, she likely was unable to. Jesus came to her.
Christ comes also to us: In His Word, in His Holy Supper, in our quiet meditation. Jesus comes to us.
Next, Jesus has compassion for the ordinary events of our daily life. In casting out the spirit, we saw that Jesus has authority, the “say-so,” over the forces of evil. The reign of God is present in Christ, and is beginning to unfold. But facing an unclean spirit is not an everyday problem. Now, he heals Simon’s mother-in-law. Illness is an everyday problem. Yet its plainness or ordinariness does not make it below Jesus dignity or concern.
Jesus came to this woman, and he found her lying ill. He reached out His hand and lifted her up. She was down and out. He raised her up. The reign of God was literally at hand for her – it was in Jesus’s hand which was in her hand. He restored her to wholeness and raised her up. He restores us to wholeness by His redeeming blood. He has raised us up out of the ways of this world, and on the Last Day, will raise us up from the grave, to live forever under His reign.
Christ was bringing of the reign of God. And this bringing in would be fulfilled in His sacrificial death on Calvary. In His crucifixion, Christ has redeem us, you, me, and all creation from the guilt and debt of sin. In these miracles, we see the fullness of the reign of God He is bringing. For the reign of God is and was greater than cancelling sin in an abstract, religious, or philosophical sense. Christ overcame sin, and so has overcome everything concerning sin or related to sin or caused by sin. Simon's mother-in-law was not sinning by being ill. Nor was the illness caused by her sin. Rather, it was the result of the sinful and broken condition of the world. Sin which broke the Garden of Eden, and which still fractures our daily lives.