The Preaching Of Christ
1. In today's passage we read there are three short stories recorded in it. The first is a story about when the Lord Jesus went to Simon [Peter] and Andrew's house on the Sabbath and there he healed the mother-in-law of Simon. The second is a story about when it was turning night and the sun was setting, the entire townspeople gathered at the door to the house and the Lord healed many people. The third is when the Lord Jesus was praying the next morning while still dark. I'd like for us to read these narratives together as we observe the figure of the Lord depicted in this brief passage and consider what the Lord did and said means to us today.
Jesus Heals Simon's Mother-In-Law
2. First, let's read from verses twenty-nine to thirty-one.
"Immediately the group left the synagogue and went to Simon and Andrew's house. James and John were also with them. As the mother-in-law of Simon was sleeping with a fever, the people told about her at once to Jesus. When Jesus went near, he took her hand and raised her up, the fever departed and she served as hostess to all," (verses twenty-nine to thirty-one).
3. The setting switches from a synagogue to an individual home and from a place of worship to a place of daily living. In a place of worship the Lord stood as one having authority and not as the scribes. The gospel of the kingdom of God was not just preached, but the authority and power of God were revealed in the words and deeds of Christ. In his authority and power the Lord was concerned with a man under the control of defiled spirits and he was set free from the defiled spirits. Instead of being ruled by the befouled spirits, the rule of God came upon him. Thus, along with the words "the kingdom of God is near," we have revealed to us a sign showing the arrival of the rule of God. It was an event that took place in a place of worship.
4. But, the work of the Lord was not to remain within the synagogue. The Lord went to the home of Simon and Andrew. The Lord goes to the place where they did their every day living and the contents written here tells us that the miraculous work of the Lord that appeared in the synagogue also appeared in the same way in a place of every day living.
5. When the Lord Jesus arrived at the house, sadly enough, Simon's mother-in-law was asleep with a fever. The people immediately informed the Lord Jesus about her. Since that day was the Sabbath, they probably had not told the Lord about this with the intention of having him heal her because it was against the law to work for the purpose of healing on the Sabbath. I suppose that perhaps there was the implication that meant no in "she is in no condition to greet you." They told the actual situation to the Lord as it really was.
6. Then, what did the Lord do? The Lord went by her side, took her hand and raised her up. The Lord himself went there for a visit, kept a low profile,* and was lovingly concerned for Simon's mother-in-law. Just as the Lord directed his concern in that place of worship onto the man under the control of the defiled spirits, the Lord stretched out his hands to another suffering person but also in this place of daily life. Furthermore, in a Jewish society where women were not much regarded, he was completely concerned for the personal problem of "a woman" and with "a fever" at that. You might say the Lord served her in this. Then, it says in the text that the lady who was healed by the Lord's service "served as a hostess to all." The person who was served by the Lord became a person who serves the Lord and others. The Lord Jesus, who revealed God's authority in a place of worship, came on over to this one household for a visit and became Lord in this place of day to day life as well.
Jesus Heals The Many Who Gathered
7. Next, let's read from verses thirty-two to thirty-four.
"When it was turning night and the sun was setting, many brought to Jesus all the sick and those possessed with evil spirits. The whole town assembled at the door. Jesus healed a great deal of people afflicted with various illnesses and cast out many evil spirits and did not allow the evil spirits to say a thing because the evil spirits knew Jesus," (verses thirty-two to thirty-four).
8. In verse twenty-eight it reads that "The fame of Jesus spread rapidly to every corner of the region of Galilee." I don't think it literally spread to every corner in Galilee in one day, but what took place in the synagogue on that day came to be heard by a considerable many people by word of mouth. Many heard the rumors and brought along the sick and those possessed with evil spirits. The only thing is because it was the Sabbath that day many people waited for the sun to set. A Jewish day begins with twilight. When the sun sinks the Sabbath ends.
9. In the words "when it was turning night and the sun was setting," you might envision the image of those waiting in earnest for the sunset. It's probably an exaggeration in saying that "the whole town assembled at the door," but by using this expression it is believed that it speaks of the so many people who have physical or mental problems then and now. Usually we act like we have no problems with each other and we show concern for each other like those people did. So, everyone but us often looks happy and healthy and all peaceful. But, if we could take one step inside them, the lives of people are not so different from [ours]. When you think about it the poor have their hardships, the affluent have their worries, the sick have their pains, and so the healthy also have their own set of problems.
10. So then, the Lord put himself right smack center in these people's troubles. It reads, "Jesus healed a great many who were afflicted with various illnesses and cast out many evil spirits," (verse thirty-four). Just as the Lord was concerned for that man in a place of worship, he was concerned for the woman in a place of every day living, and now he was concerned for the various problems one by one for each person in the thronging multitude outside the house. The people's concerns were the Lord's concerns as well.
11. But, there is something very interesting here in the text as it continues. "He did not allow the evil spirits to say a thing because the evil spirits knew Jesus," (verse thirty-four). In saying the evil spirits knew Jesus it meant that they knew that the person of Jesus of Nazareth was the messiah and the son of God. More precisely, it's like the demon possessed man in the synagogue when he shouted "We know your true nature. You are the holy one of God." But, if that was so, why did he forbid them to speak? Wouldn't it have been better had he let them speak extensively? We would think that the very time when the miraculous healing was done and the demons cast out that it was a time that they ought to have given testimony that "This person is the messiah, he is the son of God."
12. Yet, when we read this gospel account, far from the Lord Jesus letting the demons speak, he even forbids humans to speak. For example, next in today's passage of scripture a person ill with a serious skin disease appears before the Lord Jesus. Then, the Lord heals him. Shouldn't the person who experienced this miracle testify that "This person is the messiah, he is the son of God?" But yet, the Lord forbids it. He says, be extremely careful and "watch yourself so that you don't say anything to anyone,") (verse forty-four). Why is that?
13. The Lord said this because he was still on the path he had to follow. The people experienced great miracles. But, they still only saw half way what they were supposed to see and only understood halfway what they were supposed to understand. The Lord was certainly concerned for them. But, they still did not know why the Lord really cared for them. The Lord certainly was in their service. But, they still didn't know why the Lord was really serving them. The Lord certainly loved them. But, they still didn't know why the Lord really loved them. Was the Lord in the middle of going somewhere? They had no clue, but we who hear the gospel do. It is to the cross that stood on Golgotha's hill. Later the Lord says the following in chapter ten and verse forty-five, "The son of man came to serve and not to be served and to offer his life as a ransom for many," (10:45).
14. It's not enough for us to know that the Lord is concerned with our pains and problems. When the Lord directs his concern towards us and cares for us it means that he is concerned especially with the problem of our sin. It means that he loves us so much that he presented his own life up an offering to redeem our sin. Then we can first confess that this person Jesus of Nazareth is the messiah and he is the son of God. Therefore, in this gospel account it is at the cross the first time we hear a confession of faith from the mouth of a person that Jesus is the son of God. "The centurion was facing Jesus and standing nearby. Then he saw Jesus give up his breath as he did and said, 'Truly, this man was the son of God,'" (15:39).
Jesus Going To Other Towns
15. Finally, let's read beginning with verse thirty-five.
"While early in the morning and still dark, Jesus got up, went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. When Simon and the others followed after Jesus and found him, he said, 'Everyone is looking for you.' Jesus said, 'I'm going to the other nearby towns and villages. I am preaching there as well. That's why I have come.' Then, he went to the synagogues through out Galilee, preached, and cast out demons," (verses thirty-five through thirty-nine).
16. Mark tells us more of the event on the following day in the early morning. The Lord separated from the people, got alone, and then prayed. The gospel record repeatedly denotes the figure of the Lord Jesus in prayer like that. At day, a multitude of people came crowded around seeking for the Lord Jesus. The Lord must have gone about his work busily. But, he did not work and sacrifice his prayer time in his relationship with God the Father because the purpose of the Lord was always to carry out the will of his Father, God. Some say they can pray and work at the same time. That may certainly be so. But, even the Lord Jesus needed quiet time apart from others set aside to pray in God's presence alone and still. Because of the fact that even the Lord who had said, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30) was made the same flesh as us, we need time unobstructed by anyone to live in fellowship with the Father.
17. If the Lord needed to, we do even more. If we try to give without taking in enough from God we will definitely dry up. The person who would only imitate the Lord in his service for others and who would be concerned for others will end up burning out. Unreasonable as it is but when you try to draw water from a well that's separated from its water source and is always drying up, what will come out of it is only the mud of complaining and dissatisfaction, or the muck of groans and grudges. We should not be servants without the pure water that takes God for its source and only spreading the muck of our dried out wells.
18. Well, when the Lord prayed like that, Simon and the others came near and said, "Everyone is looking for you," (verse thirty-seven). The crowd had probably been thronging him already since early morning. Perhaps Simon and Andrew had never experienced any event like that ever before. They clearly were situated between the Lord Jesus and the multitude. What the Lord gave his attention to is none other than what the disciples also gave their attention to. What the Lord Jesus sought after determined what the disciples in their work were also to seek after. It must have been for them both a heavy responsibility and at the same time a great joy. Don't the words of the disciples that "Everyone is looking for you" relay their excitement to us? "We are working for the people. Hey, we hear we are being sought by everyone! Lord, you know everybody is trying to find you!"
19. They must have thought that we had probably better work for everybody who has been settling in there and gathered for a so long time. But, the Lord says here, "I'm going to the other nearby towns and villages. I am preaching there as well. That's why I have come," (verse thirty-eight). The Lord fixed his attention on the hardships of the people. He worked for their healing. But, the Lord's ultimate purpose was not just to respond to the needs of the people that were temporary and passing. Therefore, the Lord goes on further in his destiny. He proceeds on while in the process of proclaiming the kingdom of God.
20. The disciples were also required to follow the Lord. They were brought up along to the place where the Lord was going to, to the place we see the cross of Calvary. And they soon came to understand. They came to know that what the Lord was ultimately trying to give them and what we truly need is redemption of sin on the cross and to start living under the rule of God as redeemed sinners. This is exactly what the salvation of a person as shown by the works of casting out demons and the healing of illness is.
*He did not expect to be addressed with titles of honor and high language, but in the familiar form. He went there humbly.