Here is a day in the life of Mark – the account of Jesus’ first day. Mark wastes no space in needless details. In these ten short verses we have a lot to think about. The healing of Peter’s mother- in- law, the healing of many in a crowd that gathered; Jesus’ retreat to pray; the decision to move on through Galilee.
- The Healing of Peter’s mother-in-law.:. We hear nothing of Peter’s wife but that was not unusual in those times. Women were mostly invisible in the gospels, unless as “Bill Loader says: “they were a source of trouble or delight.” But in this story we do hear about this older woman, the mother of Peter’s wife. Home would have been a complex place where extended family lived, including this sick woman. In that ancient society she mattered, Jesus cared for her, he healed her, and she recovered to serve. This woman is the hero of the story but she remains anonymous . She would do what women stereotypically did -look after the men and the household. Mark does say in chapter 15 of the gospel that many women from Galilee followed Jesus and they were there at the end when the men fled. So here in this story we hear that the kingdom starts at home.
- Why do you think the people were brought after sunset? The sabbath law was obeyed in that the sick were brought after sunset andt for the Jews, the Sabbath ended at sunset . It was also reasonable not to bring the sick in the heat of the day . Those ancient people believed in exorcism and healing. This day, not only was Peter’s relative healed, but we hear of others being brought to Jesus also seeking healing of some sort. There were crowds at the door, and in their ancient belief the demons were there too. The Jews collective word for demons was mazzikin, which means, one who does harm. They believed that the demons were malignant beings, intermediate between God and people and that these demons were out to work harm on people.
- Some people believed that sickness occurred because of something that the parents of a person had done or was punishment for what the person themselves had done. But many believed that these demons were present and working continually in their world. Such healing events were important to those gathered people because, here in Jesus’ healing, they recognise that something that has been prophesied for years is now beginning and theses events are important in fact, as well as in what they symbolise. Here they see and hear a man who is bringing healing and liberation to many. . Verses 29-34 tell us why the coming of a new kingdom is good news because the Jewish writings and prophets told of God bringing such healing and liberation when a new kingdom would come.
- The reading ends with Jesus going back to the wilderness for prayer. This is probably a neat touch on the writer’s part to emphasise that Jesus needed to care for himself. . He needed to regain strength and energy. The disciples didn’t seem to understand this and wondered how he can possibly leave when there is so much need. Jesus had come to terms with his limitations. Many locals would have been disappointed that he went off to other areas of Galilee. Perhaps Jesus was not going to be dictated to by the rules of the game, so to speak, and this not responding to the wishes of the crowd could almost be seen as not responding to demonic powers from which people in general needed to escape, and need to even today.
5. We are reminded of Jesus’ mission . He is preaching in the synagogues and healing Perhaps we would say today that he modelled “best management practice”. He knew what he was about and he never lost sight of that. He could see the big picture – he could understand people and what the new kingdom would mean for them. He recognised the universal claim of human need and dealt with it. He knew that they needed healing not only physically but spiritually because in many ways the Jews had missed the mark in their recent religious practices and the extent of the laws had become almost impossible to follow. He knew that they needed to be transformed at the touch of Jesus’ hand just as Peter’s mother- in- law was. Their lives were to be turned around with the message that he was telling them. The message of love rather than hate, of compassion rather than ostracizing those who were on the edges of their society and of justice rather than the unjust system under which they lived and were down trodden.
6. When we say our lives are transformed what do we personally mean?t As 21st century disciples we believe that we have come to a place of healing where we have realised that, because of our belief in Jesus, it is as if we too have been restored to wholeness and fullness of life. The gospel brings new attitudes, new priorities and new motives. We have probably found that we have been spiritually healed with the assurance that we are worthy and we are loved and even though there are aspects of our lives that are unhealthy and sickly .We can be transformed to heal relationships in our lives and then to serve in ways that mirror Jesus. These cn bring reconciliation, peace and justice in the situations in which we find ourselves. And all of these bring a sense of wholeness – that we are who we are. Characters the the circus in The Greatest Showman found this personal acceptance in working for Barnum. We don’t have to play the competition games many play, and that we don’t have to live by standards of the “me” generation or the materialistic boundaries of our present world. As disciples we are learning to reach out in love, compassion and care. We are learning to be concerned about our world and its future. We are learning to model our lives more and more on the transforming power of what Jesus taught about.
7. And we have to keep on learning, thinking, meditating, praying and symbolically fix our eyes on Jesus, that is, never give up but believe in the way that he taught so long ago. We may not be able to parallel his acts but then we live in a different society with a very different world view. Our healing, transforming and making whole will take place in different ways, maybe in volunteering, maybe in our work, maybe in the sporting teams we belong to or in the neighbourhood in which we live. And each of us will manifest these according to our personalities. But together we can keep on living the Jesus way because this is what we have been called to do and this is what we responded to when we first heard the call of Jesus on our lives. Now is not the time to give up.