And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Good morning! Thank you Mark for all that you do and for sharing your pulpit. Thank you David for working to keep our technology able to connect with our community! I miss seeing all of you face to face and I am so hopeful, as more and more people get vaccinated, that our numbers will go down and we can resume meeting. If you have not gotten signed up for vaccination and need help with the process, please contact me and I will help. We miss being together! If you are joining us online this morning, thank you. Say hello back in the comments!
If you watched the last time I spoke here at Powderly (and if you didn’t it is still on our Powderly Facebook page for January 3rd) You know that I spoke about Ephesians 3 and the work of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. You know from that scripture that we are all chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, and helped. God loves us so much that He didn’t leave us standing alone, waiting to be picked. Waiting to be part of a family.
But chosen for what? I know God picked me for something! I am on the team now, but what do I do? Follow Jesus!
Today we are going to be talking about the reading from the book of Mark. Because the gospel of Mark is all about what Jesus is doing and if we want to be like Jesus, one way to do that is to learn about what He did.
The four gospels give us different pictures of Jesus. Each writer had their own perspective and focused on a way to see Jesus through their eyes.
John walks us through how Jesus is the Son of God. Matthew talks about Jesus’ kingship. Luke shows us more of the human side of Jesus. But Mark? Mark is like an action movie version of Jesus. He doesn’t even start with the birth narrative. Mark jumps right in with Jesus being full grown, baptized, tested, and then zooms right into His ministry. We don’t even have a commercial break with time to make some popcorn. If you take your eyes off the reading for a moment, you may miss something! In fact, as you read the book of Mark, you will come across the phrase “and immediately” about forty times.
Jesus calls his disciples and starts healing and preaching. Mark 10:45 gives us a hint at the theme for the whole book of Mark. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
So, by the time we get to today’s verse in Mark, Jesus has already been baptized, spent forty days in the desert, walked a lot of miles, called his disciples, preached with authority, healed the sick, and cast out demons. I don’t know about you but I’m tired just reading all that and we are still only in Mark 1!
But Mark seems to be making a point with all this activity and immediacy. Jesus’ ministry is more than parables and words. It involves all the ways in which He makes God’s Kingdom visible. He lets us see what God’s reign looks like and the real effects that it has on the lives of people. People are delivered. People are forgiven. People are restored to community. People are healed.
Right before our reading today, Jesus was in the synagogue teaching and he cast out the demons from a man. Now He is at the home of Simon and Andrew and he heals a woman with a fever. In a way, that shows us that ministry has a wide range. From teaching, to healing, to visiting, to men, to women and so much more. At sundown people found Jesus. Jesus didn’t need to go out and find people – they came searching for Him, knowing that He was the forgiveness, the deliverance, the restoration to community and the healing.
Later we find Jesus withdrawing even from His friends, to solitude to pray. Throughout the New Testament Jesus often prays. What a wonder that conversation with God must have been. I wonder if words were even needed. Sometimes we just need to sit at God’s feet.
The disciples found Him and Jesus was ready to move on with His ministry. He could have stayed there and people would probably have continued to find him. The needs of the people were great. But it would seem that the example of ministry here is that it is not cemented to one place or to one specific group of people. Jesus knows his purpose.
Let’s back up a bit, to when they first arrived at Peter’s house. The reading says that immediately they told Jesus about Peter’s mother-in-law and He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. Jesus ministry was not just words and parables, remember? Jesus was all about hands on. In Jesus’ time, people believed that illness was often closely connected to sin. So to be ill was suspect. “How did you sin that God would do this to you?” In our time, fever is often no big deal. You take some medicine and you get better. But in Jesus’ time, they had no baby aspirin or tylenol or antibiotics. Fever would have been more serious. So what doesn’t seem like a big deal to us as we read this, may have had a completely different view for the people of that time.
What did Jesus do? He took her by the hand and lifted her up. That phrasing reminds me of Moses in Exodus 14:16 “Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.”
It reminds me of John 12:32 “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”
What was the woman’s response? She began to serve them.
I thought about gratitude and I get curious sometimes, about the origin of words. So I looked into how we got the phrase “thank you”. It comes from the word “think” meaning I will remember what you did for me. In Portugese, the word is obrigado which means an obligation or “I am in your debt. In French, the word is Merci which means I am at your mercy.
And so we serve. As the hymn says, we serve a risen savior. If we follow the example of Peter’s mother-in-law, we don’t just serve Jesus – we serve them! All. Each other. And I want to thank you! I want to thank our pastor Mark and his wife Marion who have continued to serve throughout the pandemic. I want to thank David for being so faithful to keep us able to reach out online. I want to thank those of you who have continued to help with Meals on Wheels, with the food pantry, with keeping our finances straight, ordering supplies, for texting out the prayer chain to keep people informed, for keeping communication open for Celebrate Recovery. I want to thank our other lay speakers. What a blessing. I want to thank those of you who have checked on each other and encouraged each other and lifted others up. I know that I am leaving some folks out. I want to just celebrate you for serving in whatever way you have been a disciple and it doesn’t have to be an official activity. It may have just been being Jesus for someone in a moment of need.
Because that is how we make the kingdom of God visible in the world. We are all chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, and helped and so we respond with saying Thank you, I will remember what you did and are doing for me. I am in your debt, Jesus, because you have had mercy on me. We know that in our own power, we can do nothing that will have any lasting effect, and so we pray, because we need that connection to God. We need God to take us by the hand and lift us up so that we can see how and when to serve each other because in serving each other we are living out discipleship. We are doing what can seem like a new thing, but maybe it is not so much new, as being restored to who we were created to be.
We can look at this as four relationships in order. Our relationship with God (our faith), our relationship with others (community), our relationship with the world (stewardship) and our relationship with ourselves (wholeness) When those relationships get out of order, we have problems. When we serve out of obligation, we are servants, but when we serve out of discipleship, we are living out the gospel. We are living to the one who created and chose us, we are in community with all others who like us, were created in Their image – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are caring for the rest of His creation, and we are growing ourselves to be whole and towards holiness – human in the way we were always meant to be. We are accepting God’s invitation to take part in His kingdom. We are saying a loud and heartfelt THANK YOU!