Summary: Jesus heals a man with an unclean spirit, Peter's mother-in-law, and a leper.
Mark 1:21-45 “The Whole Good News”
What would be some of the greatest headlines that you’d like to read in 2016?
• ISIS Defeated!
• Surprise Resident Wins Powerball Lottery
• War On Poverty Won!
For the writer of the gospel of Mark the greatest “good news” is “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Following this headline the rest of the gospel details what the kingdom of God looks like as it intersects with our world.
REPENT AND BELIEVE
One of the key words in Mark’s good news is the word, “Repent.” Usually we understand this word to mean that we should turn away from our sin; turn back to God. This is certainly one of the ways that the word can be translated.
In this context Mark might be communicating what the word literally means, “to change one’s mind,” or “to change one’s perspective.”
Since we have just celebrated Christmas many of us have recently watched the movie, “The Santa Clause.” There is a scene in the movie where Scott Calvin has been struggling with the idea that he is the new Santa Claus. He doesn’t believe and he doesn’t want to believe. Scott’s son, Charlie, throws him the snow bubble that the elf, Bernard, gave them. When Scotts looks into the snowy scene he suddenly changes his perspective and he believed. We could say that Scott Calvin repented.
The kingdom of God has arrived and a new age has begun. Jesus invites people to live in the reality of this good news. If we are to do this, though, we must change our perspective. We need to see that life is not confined to the physical. There is a spiritual reality. With the eyes of faith we can catch glimpses of God’s movement in our world.
The world view of people at the time of Jesus was very different from ours. People at that time believed that they were at the mercy of uncontrollable forces. Sickness and disease were beyond their control. Feast or famine were beyond their control. Good luck or evil tragedies could not be courted by either good or bad behavior.
Jesus stepped into this world as one who had authority and control. In verse twenty-seven the people exclaim that this is a new teaching and that Jesus has authority. Jesus has the authority over the forces of evil and sickness.
Humankind has made many advancements. With modern drugs we can control sickness and prolong life. Central heating and air conditioning has given us control of our environment. These developments have given us the false perspective that we really are the ones who are in control. Tragedy strikes, sickness befalls us or life takes a sudden turn and we realize that we are not in control. Our false perspective of life is uncovered and we are invited to change our minds and our perspective, see Jesus as the one who has the authority and live in God’s kingdom.
There are other uncontrollable forces in our lives and in our world. The forces of nature are beyond our control. Do we live in fear that something might happen to us, or to we live in faith that no matter what God is with us? Terrorism is beyond our control. It is so big. It is not beyond God’s control, though. Other forces seem so big as to be beyond our control: Greed, prejudice, racism, sexism and all the other isms along with hunger and poverty. As big and as pervasive as these evils are, they are not bigger than God.
The kingdom of God is discernable. We can see it and touch it and it can change our lives. Jesus casts out the unclean spirit. We may never have been demon possessed, but we know what it is to feel unclean and unacceptable. God enters our lives with forgiveness and grace and we become clean. We know what it is to be sick—not just physically, but emotionally and even spiritually. God brings life and wholeness into our lives. Like the leper we know what it is like to be excluded and marginalized. We know what it is to not belong. God comes and proclaims God’s acceptance of us.
The kingdom of God is not merely a theological speculation nor is it a religious doctrine. Our lives have been changed and God changes the lives of those around us. These changes happen in the here and now. They are not reserved for the life to come.
The kingdom of God has come. We are called to change our perspective and see God’s kingdom in our world. Knowing what God has done in our lives and seeing what God has done in the lives of others we can follow the leper’s example and tell everyone what God has done.