Summary: Jesus’s first 100 days in the ministry was off to a smashing success. These healings brought so much publicity that people pursued him.
HEALED FOREVER . . . ON THE INSIDE! Mark 1:29-39
After his baptism in the Jordan River, Jesus went north to Galilee proclaiming the Good News of God, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” He made the village of Capernaum the headquarters for his Galilean ministry. Last Sunday we heard that he began his public ministry by teaching in the local synagogue and by casting an unclean spirit out of a sick man. If his goal was to reach the maximum number of people, he sure found the way to do it. Mark records that “his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.”
Today’s Gospel portrays Jesus as a very busy man. “And immediately he left the synagogue, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left, and she served them.”
Now people know a good thing when they see one. “That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered together about 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.”
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and
went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Jesus’s first 100 days in the ministry was off to a smashing success. These healings brought so much publicity that people pursued him. The next day, when he had disappeared by going to a lonely place for prayer, Simon found him and said, “Everyone is searching for you.” One might conclude that Jesus was surely on his way to a successful ministry. Everyone wanted to see him or touch him or get their picture taken with him. Surely Jesus wanted people to be whole, but his primary purpose was not the specular performing of miracles. His purpose in his ministry was reaching out to people through the preaching and teaching of the Kingdom of God that was coming in his very own person. The miracles, which affirmed the authority of his message, were secondary.
Jesus wanted them to hear his message, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.” God’s time to rescue, redeem and save his people had come in Jesus the Messiah. The realm of God’s activity was breaking through in him with consequences both for the present and the future. People were to repent, that is, to turn around from the direction they were heading, and to believe the good news that God was acting in Jesus to bring his people back to him, to heal them on the inside with the forgiveness of sins and the inflowing and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
But the people seemed to be paying attention only to the healing, to the miracles. The message of turning around and repenting, of believing the gospel and following Jesus and serving others is not as attractive as miracles. Illness is the common lot of all of us. None of us wants to be sick or to have a disease. Not only that, but illness in one form or another reminds us that sickness leads finally to death. No wonder we desire health and try to keep illness at a distance.
Hospitals, which were invented by the Church, have been most welcome in the fight against illness and death. Life is often a struggle for existence. The truth is that we are born to die. Even the healings of Jesus were temporary. Yet many good things come from this struggle for existence. We work hard to find new ways to heal the body, and we feverishly devote ourselves to that effort in the full knowledge of death’s ever-creeping shadow. We only appear to be in control. We have some temporary fixes for the outward dying but there is no temporary fix for the inward dying. What we often don’t recognize is that we are still sick even when we are not sick. We are possessed with a sickness-of-heart that is even worse than any bodily dying. Not only are we hardwired to our quest for health and beauty and immortality . . . what is worse, we simply do not trust the One in whom we need to trust to deliver us both from death and from our self-serving selves and from our quest for self-preservation.