Friday, February 6, 2015

Epiphany 5

Epiphany 5
8. February 2015
Mark 1:29-39

Jesus has just left the synagogue. After casting out an unclean spirit from a man. He enters the house of Simon and Andrew. He heals Simon’s mother-in-law of a fever. That evening everyone from the village came to the door to be healed.

Jesus is the healer of suffering humanity. Jesus went about healing all kinds of diseases. The result of such healing? The disciples tell Jesus, “Everyone is searching for you.” (vs. 37) Would that all people were searching for Jesus! And searching for Him for all the right reasons! The people wanted a healer only. Jesus would remind us that He came not primarily to heal but to preach, as He reminds us “that is why I came out.” (v.38)

Jesus ministered with a personal touch. He took Peter’s mother-in-law, who was sick with a fever. He took her by the hand, and “lifted her up.” He lifted her up to health. It was a lift of love. It was a lift of compassion. Not only do we see the compassion of Jesus but also the power of Jesus to heal.

Illness is not a part of the Father’s design for His children. It is however, the reality with which we live. We are living in a fallen world. Outside of Eden. Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. It prevented her from serving. Such is the case with illness today. It prevents us from doing our work. Because we are down with illness. Prolonged illness may lead to other maladies such as discouragement, despair and depression. When illness strikes, we can feel defeated by the cares and concerns of this daily life.

In her need, Christ came to her. Jesus entered the house of Simon Peter and immediately attends to her need.  He lifts her us.

Jesus always gives us a lift. A lift from despair to help. From sickness to health.  From sin to holiness. From death to life.

Jesus lifts her up. From despair to hope. Sickness can lead to despair.   Who was she when she no longer was able to engage in her calling?  When we are sick, we are tempted to think I have no value. I have no worth. Jesus restored her to her social world. He brought her back to a life of value. By freeing her from that fever.

Healing is about restoration. Now she was free to serve.   It was her calling and her honor to show hospitality to guests in her home. Cut off from that role by an illness, cut her off from her life’s work. Who was she when no longer able to engage in her calling? Jesus restored her to her social world. He brought her back to a life of value by freeing her from that fever. Healing is about restoration to community and restoration of a calling. A role as well as restoration to life. For life without community and calling is bleak indeed.   

Jesus lifts her up. From sickness to health.  All kinds of folks were brought to Jesus for help. Capernaum's sick were laid before Him. And He healed illnesses and cast out demons. These two activities were not identical. People get sick for all manner of reasons. Not all illnesses are caused by demons.  New strength is imparted to those laid low by illness, so that they may again rise up to take their place in the world. That’s what Jesus did. He restored Peter’s mother-in-law to health. Their cure was complete.

Jesus lifts her up. From sin to holiness.  In the synagogue, Jesus had exorcised a demon with only a word.[1] Now He is more forceful.  He "casts them out" and will not permit them to speak.[2] With this final note, "because they knew him." This is a sobering reminder. The demons know the identity of Jesus. And they will do battle. These demonic powers will not go quietly. There will be many more confrontations. This battle. Will ultimately take Jesus to a cross. There He will bear your sin and the sin of the entire world. He will take all of the ugliness of this world’s sin to Himself. He carries to Himself the atrocities of the Nazis, the evil acts of isis, all the way to your secret sins and your private practices and your ugly prejudices. There He will exchange your guilt for His perfection. And declare you not guilty. Restored, redeemed forgiven. 

When God pardons, He does not say He understands your weakness or make allowances for your errors. Rather, He disposes of, finishes with, the whole of your dead life and raises you up with a new one. He does not so much deal with your failures as does He drop them down the black hole of Jesus' death. He forgets your sins in the darkness of the tomb. He remembers your iniquities no more in the forgetfulness of Jesus' death. He finds you in the desert of death, not in the garden of improvement. And in the power of Jesus' resurrection, He puts you on His shoulders, rejoicing, and brings you home![3]

Jesus lifts her up. From death to life. The healing miracles of Jesus are performed for a purpose. They demonstrate Jesus’ power. His power over death. And the power to give life. The Lord breathed into lifeless clay and created the human race.     And yet, each will die. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.[5]  For He will restore all to life on the last great day. 

Thus the apostle Paul explains to us: Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
 “O death, where is your victory?
  O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.[6]

In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for you, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ, he gives the power to become the children of God and bestows on them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in you, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Words – 1,210
Passive Sentences -6%
Readability -82%
Reading level – 4.1

[1] Mark 1:21-28
[2] Mark 1:34
[3] Robert Farrar Capon, Parables of Grace, pg. 39
[4] Geneses 2:7
[5] Romans 6:23
[6] 1 Corinthians 15:51-17

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