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Summary: Medical science can possibly cure some diseases and extend some life spans; but we on our own can not atone for our sins.

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February 8, 2015

Epiphany 5B

Text Mark 1:29-39

Today's Gospel takes off where last Sunday's lesson ended. Jesus immediately left the Synagogue, in Capernaum,with his recently selected disciples, Peter, Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee - James and John. Mark shows an urgency when he writes. The Greek word which is translated as immediately, in the English Standard Version, appears 41 times in the Gospel of Mark but only 10 times in the rest of the New Testament.

They show up at Peter's house expecting lunch but they are immediately told that Peter's mother in law is laying ill with a fever. The text does not tell us if these 4 lunch guests had an advanced invitation or was this a “surprise”. Jesus came to Peter's mother in law, took her by the hand, and lifted her up. She started to serve them. Most people recovering from a feverish illness need a little additional rest before they are ready to serve lunch guests. Jesus was able to effect complete recovery immediately.

The text does not tell us what happened that afternoon after lunch and before the end of the Sabbath at sundown. We could speculate that there was discussion about removing the unclean spirit from the man at the synagogue and the miraculous recovery of Peter's mother in law. There also likely were questions about Jesus teaching with authority or possibly more teaching. Once the Sabbath ended at sundown, a crowd came to Peter's house and gathered at the door. Jesus healed many who were sick with various diseases and he cast out many demons.

The next morning, after some private prayer time, He explained to Peter and the others that, even though Capernaum would be headquarters for His Galilean ministry it was time to move on to the next towns and also to preach there. He went through all of Galilee preaching in the Synagogues and casting out demons. There was no Mega -synagogue in His plans for Capernaum.

In addition to the people being a little confused, I can see two other individuals with questions and concerns:

First would be the local Rabbis. Where did this Jesus come from? Who did he train under? What were His credentials to preach and teach? All they knew for sure is that He was working with His father at J & J construction and now He is preaching. Normally a student will ask to study under a Rabbi. The student picked the teacher. Jesus just walked up to common fishermen and said follow me and immediately they followed.

Second would be the local Physicians. A town the size of Capernaum would have at least one Doctor. Medical care was available to the Israelites at minimum from the time of Moses. Exodus 21: 18-19, taken from the Living Bible, reads: “If two men are fighting, and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist and injures him so that he must be confined to bed, but doesn't die, if later he is able to walk again, even with a limp, the man who hit him will be innocent except that he must pay for the loss of his time until he is thoroughly healed and pay any medical expenses.” This was written 1445 years before the time of Christ. The profit Jeremiah also mentions physicians (8:22) and he preceded Christ by 600 years. Granted, medical practice has evolved since the time of Jesus. The Jews had the idea that disease was caused by sin. An example of this is found in John 9 where Jesus heals a man born blind. His disciples asked Him “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. In addition to compassion for the people (Mark1:41), Jesus healed so that the works of God might be displayed. The Jewish thinking was not completely wrong with the notion that sin can cause disease.


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