Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Healer has Come. Mark 1:29-39

Jesus' ministry begins fast in Mark --
-- Baptism, temptation in the wilderness. In just a few days time he was inviting others to follow, having a confrontation with the daemonic and an exorcism right in the middle of the synagogue. All that in the first few days of Jesus' ministry. Today's reading is the next thing that happened after the exorcism. Right after leaving worship, Jesus went to Simon's house and healed his mother in law. And as fast as she was healed she got up serving Jesus and his friends as guests in her home.

The action happens fast, right in the first few paragraphs of the story. In the earliest days in ministry Jesus became known not for what he taught but for who he healed. God's creative and re-creative power were personally visible in Jesus.

Healing for Jesus was never just been a matter of good health care. Jesus met the Devil head to head and healed. The evil one works corrupting through sin, death, and disease. Jesus came restoring the broken and mending the fallen. First were the daemon possessed. Next was Peter's mother in law. Then came the leper and many others. The Kingdom of God quickly came near. Don Juel and Patrick Keifert observed that next in the story,

When the sun has set (and the Sabbath is past), people who are sick flock to Jesus—
confident that he can help (1:32-34). Their faith is rewarded. The story of the leper (1:40-45) provides a concrete and dramatic example of the same message: those who ask will receive. Jesus’ conversation with Peter (1:35-38) indicates that he is not simply a healer—or perhaps more accurately, that his healing is tied to a larger campaign that involves announcing that the kingdom of God is at hand; his mission cannot be reduced to healing. Jesus’ need to press on does not imply indifference to suffering, however. The stories of his encounters with the sick invite confidence—faith—and offer promises to those who ask. Word and World 1998
Jesus was searched out. People came with hope and faith. They came looking for him even when he sought out a quiet place to pray. The disciples told him that "Everyone is searching for you." Jesus responded to the needs of the people. He didn't send his friends to keep the crowd away. He chose to go find the people preach. 
38 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.” 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons. Mark 1:38-39 NRSV
Jesus was living with purpose. The kingdom of God was coming near and he was up on his feet ready to spread the story.

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a few personal notes: I may not have time to keep up the lectionary commentary in the next few weeks for two good reasons.

First my beloved and I are awaiting our 3rd child's birth in the next couple of weeks. Things look very good.

Second is that I have decided to accept a new call as a pastor a little further west in Southern Minnesota's Prairie country. It all came together quickly. My wife and I both received solid offers me from a church and her from a clinic in the past few weeks. We are both very excited about the possibilities open for the two of us to serve in a new place.

5 comments:

Nancy Marshall said...

How wonderful! A beautiful new baby. I wonder how your and your wife will find time for the new jobs with the midnight feedings and general family life.

May God bless you and your wife and the girls with patience and grace in the transition.

Nancy

The Unlikely Conversationalist: said...

Nancy,

I got a note that I think you deleted and then I read your blog. I hear in your words that little by little your ministry is growing. Today, as Manuel returns you see that the seed God planted through your church has not returned empty.

I can tell by what you wrote and by your note that the evil one is at work against you right now. He's upset because you are spreading the Word. There are Two things to keep in mind.

1) We must pray and in all challenges trust not in our own understanding but in God. The devil uses fear over and over to paralyze us; we try to do thing our way but we must trust in God's plans instead of ours.

It's hard when you face the enemy head on to not be afraid, Satan's been at work for thousands of years and he's always eager to find something to chain us up with so that we won't make trouble for him. You aren't alone. Christ goes with you into all things.

2) Please ask for help from your neighbors to help you stay safe. The devil uses people, often without their knowledge or consent, to undermine ministry. The devil uses anger very well to damage the church and the people who make it up, a dented van is nothing compared to a hurt person.
Jesus says in Matthew 10:16 that we must be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. These aren't idle words. It important that you keep yourself safe from harm. I agree with your sister's advice completely. Please visit the police, the neighboring churches, and any other supporters you can find. It's time to make a plan. You can have someone there with you who can help to keep you safe. I've done it as a pastor and I will do it again if the need arises.
You are not being unkind by asking the police or a strong person to stand with you when someone comes who is enraged. You are not denying to love of God to someone by asking a strong person to be with you if you are afraid. Instead you are using God's gifts wisely to protect yourself and the ministry that you've been called to do.
I am praying for you today.
pax
unlikely

Nancy Marshall said...

The police in Orange Walk yesterday were confronted by angry sugar cane farmers who were striking against the sugar factory's pay system. There were about 20 police and 1500 farmers. Some farmers had machetes. They stormed the cane factory and vandalized it. The police shot 12 men. Two have died.
It happened that the two men who died did not have machetes or any weapon of any kind.

In hindsight...many people are saying the police, though threatened, should never have killed any of the protesters. They needed a stronger presence...an army of men to prevent the violence.

So I tell this story because it parallels mine..in that you're saying I need a stronger presence so that a potentially violent situation does NOT get violent.

Hard to find the right person. Pray that God shows me who. I think of the dad of one of the children (a police officer) but he is volatile in temper and might make things worse rather than de-escalate a conflict. Another father is a BDF soldier (ditto the volatile comment).

I may ask Rafael, a Christian, ...Thanks for your prayers.

You are right about The Evil One "attacking me" now....attacking
the church. It's exhausting and annoying....but like pregnancy (smile) the outcome is decided... the baby WILL arrive eventually. Satan will lose his battle against our church and the deaf young people. The Mark 1:21-28 passage reminded me that even the evil spirits obey Jesus.

I dont know what happened and how I deleted the note. Thank you for your prayers and counsel. I am taking your word seriously to get a male "body guard" for church for a while.

About a year ago I had a "vision" (from God or just my imagination, i dont know...) but an older Sherwin was teaching in church and sharing his testimony of God's power to change his life....when one of the little kids said, "You? Really you were violent...but you seem so gentle." Someday...I pray that vison becomes reality.
Thank you so much for walking with me and for your prayers.

Nancy

The Unlikely Conversationalist: said...

Nancy,
the news in Orange Walk is startling. It sounds as I read like angry farmers are fighting police demanding change not from the police but from a corporation.
Please keep safe and as always put your trust in God.
pax
unlikely

Nancy Marshall said...

Today a deaf man, 47, walked into my classroom. I have lived in Orange Walk now 5 years and this man and I rarely pass. (??) Which is odd in a small town. He has never come to my classroom or church. I wondered why he came today. After a while, while we were talking after school, one of the 15 year old boys started to show attitude. The older deaf man stood up to him and told him, "The Bible says to respect your teachers and respect your mother and father." Hmmm... that was a God inspired moment.

I told him he is welcome to come to church on Sunday. I pick people up who cant walk or drive. He said he'd think about it.

I just thought... hmmm interesting. Trust God and he will SEND someone. So I pretty much expect him to show. We'll see.
Kind of amazing, huh?
God is faithful.

I also asked another man, a hearing man. So we will have plenty of help this Sunday.

Thanks for your prayers and support.