"First Thoughts on Year B Gospel Passages in the Lectionary," Epiphany 5, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some Thoughts on Mark 1:29-39
After reading and studying this passage I have these two questions for us preachers: Are we bringing people a glass of cold water on the battlefield of life? Or are we delivering them off the battlefield?
Jesus is here to teach (vs 38) and specifically to offer Good News. Joel Marcus points out that this is decidedly the most important message of the verses which follow the healing of Peter's mother-in-law. (Marcus, Mark, vol 1, 201ff)
Jesus is invited to come and heal Simon Peter's mother-in-law. He touches her hand and she is healed and is so revived that she begins to serve them. Jesus does many works of healing and casting out demons and these are important to show his power and his might over and against the strong man of this world. He is a doer of great deeds. Yet this is not the purpose of his coming (vs38).
Jesus does not come to heal us. He does not come to cast out the demons. He does do these things but they are specifically acts that show his strength and his power. And, in so doing draw us to his teaching and preaching. He has come to proclaim a gospel of Good News. As one scholar put it, to give us the good news from the battlefield. (M. E. Boring, Beginning, 56; see also Marcus, Mark, 146) This ties into Isaiah's prophetic voice of offering good news for the captives.
He has come to tell us the good news. And, that good news is accompanied with mighty acts that free people from their lives. Lives are changed, the world is different.
I wonder what battlefields will be brought into our churches this Sunday morning? What battlefields will you be bringing in with you? How easy it is to stay on the battlefield and to remain captive to our fear and anxiety. How easy it is to be imprisoned by our anger at someone. How immobilizing it is to be so angry that we might avoid our real work.
What about the battlefield where people are hungry, naked, and in prison? What about the battlefield of raising kids alone? Yes...there will be many battlefields carried laboriously into the church sanctuary this week. Can we let the mighty Jesus heal us as he heals Simon Peter's mother-in-law, so that we may hear the good news of deliverance, and serve him in mission?
A Little Bit for Everyone
29As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
32That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And he cured 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. 35In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38He 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.” 39And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.