Reflections on Mark 1:29-39 - Jesus, The Healer!

As the Sabbath ends, it might have been tempting for Jesus to bask in the successful exorcism, the accolades of his authoritative teaching and a reputation that has already spread "immediately" throughout all of Galilee" (Mark 1:28). But in this story there is no time to be lackadaisical or easy-going. Three times in succession, once in last Sunday's verse, Mark 1:28, and now twice in the opening words of our lesson, we hear the word "immediately." With this word, the story fairly bursts through the synagogue doors and pushes towards the rest of Galilee -- to the rest of the week, to the rest of our lives and to the place this story of Jesus will take us. The gospel for this day reminds us that the story of Jesus is always on the move and will not allow any of us hearers to remain who or where we are. Within a few short verses, the end of today's lesson will invite us to join this Jesus whose "preaching" and healing of the demonic in life will take Him "throughout the whole of Galilee" (Mark 1:29).

He heals "many" who are sick with "all sorts" of diseases and casts out "many" demons. The success seems obvious and unstoppable. Jesus' power is clear. Except for the demons! Before he has exorcised them with only a word (Mark 1:21-28); now He is more forceful as He "casts them out" and will not permit them to speak (Mark 1:34). However, the final note "because they knew him" is a sobering reminder these demonic powers will not go quietly and so a premonition [or forewarning] of where this battle will ultimately take this Jesus. It is to that battle and its purpose that the rest of today's story now directs us. In the morning Jesus is up early and once again "in the wilderness" to ponder His mission in prayer. God's baptismal commission has brought Him to this place. There is a tug to remain for the "everyone" who is searching for Him. But Jesus' words, "Let us go on," speak to His clear sense of call and mission. "It is for this reason that I came -- to preach to the cities that lie ahead" (Mark 1:38). Jesus' words address the clear sense of purpose and mission that are already part of Mark's story. It breathes of the power of forgiveness and healing that God has in store for the whole world. Within a few verses that mission has taken us from the particular of one mother-in-law's sick room to the whole of Galilee and, by implication, to the whole world.

Posted on February 7, 2015 .