For Others To Experience The Grace Of God First-Hand For Themselves

June 6, 2010
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
Mark 1:29-39

Jesus Entered The House

1. The very first story found in today's scripture reading is that of Simon Peter's mother-in-law getting healed by Jesus. The text says, "Immediately, the group [with Jesus] left the synagogue and went into the house of Simon and Andrew. Both James and John were with them, too. Since Simon's mother-in-law was sleeping with a fever, the people spoke to Jesus at once about her. Jesus went near [her], and when he took [her] hand and [he] raised [her] up, the fever left her, she served as hostess for the group," (verses twenty-nine through thirty-one).

2. It certainly is correct to call this a miracle story of Jesus. It is "a miracle of healing." However, it is quite a simple [story] as far as miracles go, don't you think? For example, the story right before this one is found where a man possessed by an unclean spirit is set free. It says when Jesus commands it, "Come out of him!," the unclean spirit causes the man to convulse, raises its voice and then departs, (verse twenty-six). The people saw that and were amazed. It went beyond all common sensibilities. Also, just before today's passage, the story appears where a person, who is afflicted with "a serious skin disorder" which was once translated as "leprosy," is healed right there and then on the spot. This too must have been quite a sensational event as you consider the situation back then, when that disease was terribly feared [by all]. Besides that, there are the stories of the person healed who was in bed with the palsy, the blind man who started to see, the deaf man who was healed and started to hear. A story can even be found about a girl who was supposed to be dead but she came back to life. The story that "A fever had come down" is of a totally different kind. Why did such a small matter get attention and get written into the scripture? I think there are plenty of other things they could have written about besides that.

3. Perhaps one reason this event was written down for posterity is for no other reason than it was "Simon Peter's mother-in-law." They say many parts of The Gospel According To Mark were written based on the memory of Simon Peter. The stories which Peter told in various scenes were passed down and used as the lead document. Therefore, appropriately so, the healing of Peter's mother-in-law would be given a close-up as a special event in time.

4. But, that's not the only reason considered. This is a story of Jesus' coming to Peter's house. This event, above all, must have been unforgettable for Peter. This matter was indelibly composed into Mark's Gospel in particular. Please read with me again from verse sixteen. All of it is written as a single day occurrence. It begins with an invitation from Jesus. Jesus was walking by the shores of the Sea of Galilee that morning. At that time, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew had been casting nets on the sea. Jesus said to them, "Come follow me! I will make you fishers who catch people," (verse seventeen). It is not necessary to think that this was their first time meeting Jesus. However, it must have been the first time as an invitation from the messiah, as the [first] call out to them to come and follow him. They respond immediately to that call. The scripture says, "The two men immediately abandoned [their] nets and followed [him]," (verse eighteen).

5. They didn't put their nets away temporarily. What it means by "they abandoned [their] nets" is that "they quit being fishermen." Should they have made that decision about an important matter without consulting their family? Yet, at least in this gospel, it is written that they quit work, right on the spot, without consulting anybody, and then followed Jesus. Later Peter says to Jesus, "According to your word, we have abandoned just about everything and have followed you," (10:28). That was their awareness of it. To this degree then, they followed him with the mindset, "We will follow you everywhere."

6. When they followed Jesus, the first place Jesus entered was the synagogue where a Sabbath service was being held. They both sit with him there. Then, they encounter the events that I just touched on momentarily ago. When Jesus gives the command with authority, the unclean spirit comes out. The people were amazed and said all together, "It is a new but authoritative teaching!" More than anybody else who was there, Peter and Andrew must have been excited. Their decision to follow him was not a mistake! It truly is a new and authoritative teaching! We're going to follow him everywhere, yes we will! And they surely listened to Jesus excitedly. Where will Jesus go next? We will follow him no matter where! Whereupon Jesus says, "Well now, I have decided where to go. -- To your house." That is the story that we read for today.

7. What! It is to their own house that Jesus is about to go to! That was surely an unforgettable event. What's more, what happened there? The family came to know the grace of God. As a miracle, no doubt, it is a simple story, that "A fever came down." But, what happened there was also a very very symbolical thing. "Jesus went near [her], and when he took [her] hand and [he] raised [her] up ...," says the text, (verse thirty-one). Jesus "raises up" the mother-in-law. This word "raise" is found later in a major scene. It is the scene of the resurrection of Jesus. It is found with the meaning of "to be raised from the dead." It was certainly an event that pointed to the grace of baptism, of being buried with Christ, being raised from the dead with Christ, and being alive in the new life. In addition, the text says, Peter's mother-in-law "served as hostess to the group," (verse thirteen). In referring to "serving as hostess, entertaining," it is the word for "minister" which is often used in the church. In other words, the event that happened at Peter's house is nothing other than an event to symbolize that the family of the [two] men who followed Christ had been touched by the love of Christ, and had a share in the life of the resurrection through Christ, and were made servants of Christ.

8. To believe in Jesus and follow him certainly means, depending on the time and the situation, to "abandon" or completely let go of [your] family for the moment. There are times when we cannot follow [the master Jesus] unless we part with [our] family for the time being. Situations when families oppose one's faith is surely such a time. Or even if we don't go so far as to use such language as abandoning one's family, it may lead to causing [your] family sorrow. It [may] lead to the grieving of [their] hearts. These things can happen. But, when we follow Jesus all the same, Jesus himself cares for [our] families. It'll be just like when Jesus himself turned to Peter's house after he cast away the nets and followed [him]. Therefore, we should entrust our households over to Jesus and follow him one way or the other. Jesus himself will come to the rescue and save. It'll be just like Paul stated it later, "Believe on the Lord Jesus! When you do, then both you and your house will be saved," (Acts 16:31).

The Place Where The Works Of The Christ Are Manifested

9. And so, Jesus came to Peter's house. That event is written here in this text. But the reason [the Holy Spirit] wrote about the healing of "Peter's mother-in-law" is not just [to record the event itself] because what Jesus did did not just stay within Simon Peter's family.

10. The following is written beginning with verse thirty-two. "As it turned to evening when the sun was setting, they brought to Jesus all the sick and those possessed by evil spirits. The townspeople gathered at the doorway. Jesus healed a great crowd of people who were suffering from various illnesses, and, casting out many evil spirits, he did not permit [the demonic spirits] to speak of [his] person; for, the evil spirits knew Jesus," (verses thirty-two through thirty-four). Thus, not only did Peter's mother-in-law participate in Christ's grace, but also the many suffering people, going by the expression in the gospel account, "the townspeople," had begun to participate in Christ's grace. Peter followed Jesus, then Peter's house became the place where a lot of folks visited looking for the Christ and they experienced healing and being set free. Thus, Simon Peter's house became a base, you could say, for the mission to Galilee.

11. But there is a real need for us to read the scriptures closely and get an understanding of what it means, that it became a place for many folks to participate in the grace of Christ. The reason the townspeople had gathered was that it was turning evening and the sun was setting. The Jewish day begins with the setting of the sun. It was [still] the Sabbath until then. Doing work on the Sabbath is not permitted. Even medical treatment is a Torah violation. Therefore, as the sun was setting and the Sabbath was finishing up, at the same time, the people were assembling before Jesus. I can see the situation; however, it sounds like a story of a great annoyance for the household, since a great many people had assembled in the house in the early evening. However, Jesus started to heal a crowd of people right there. Also, he began to drive out evil spirits.

12. The situation in a home [back then] is different from that of today. They didn't have a lot of rooms. As long as Jesus was at work, not just the disciples, but nobody from Peter's house could rest. Perhaps late into the night the people must have lingered. What's more, the people had been crowding in since the early morning. It is as Peter said it, that "Everybody is searching for [you Jesus]." Furthermore, as you look at chapter two, it is commonly held that it is the same house that is mentioned in that text. It is written that, "As a great crowd of people had gathered, it got so that there was not even a crack of space even around the doorway." And indeed, that's not all. At the end, it got to where even the roof was destroyed.

13. That is one way to define a place where many folks will get to participate in the grace of Christ. That is one way to define being used for the work of Jesus. It doesn't have just comfortable things for you there. It also has unpleasant things for you. It also has things you must endure. It also has things you must pay a sacrifice for. However, by dealing wth these things, it leads to somebody else getting to experience the grace of God.

14. Therefore, there is also joy in it. -- Because you not only experience Christ for yourself, but [God] has you see for yourself up close the work of the living Christ. There is also the joy of being with Christ and the joy of being used by Christ in it. Without a doubt, on a later day Simon Peter declared with joy, "Jesus came to my house that day. He healed my mother-in-law. My whole family was there, and they saw the grace of God and was rejoicing over it. But, it didn't stop there. [They] began [to do] terrible things that day to my house. It got so [bad] that the roof of my house was destroyed. But, [my house] was filled to the brim literally busting out with joy over the kingdom of God." And if "John who is called Mark" as he appears in The Acts Of The Apostles is the one who wrote down this gospel account as it has traditionally been said that he did, then he, too, seems highly likely to have understood this clearly. -- Because he was brought up in a house like that. Because the house of Mark's mother Mary was in Jerusalem and [their] house was used for meetings by the disciples.

15. The Lord uses us too in a similar way. But are you all seeking for this? Are you seeking, not a peaceful and uneventful life and a little happiness for your family, but your whole life to be used for the glory of the Lord, for your family to participate in the new life and to serve Christ with you? Are you seeking to be used in order that someone else may come to know the grace of God, even if it means you have to pay a sacrifice of some price? Is everyone of us seeking to put our sights far away from the work of the risen and now alive and at work Christ and place ourselves in a place nice and safe? Or [are we seeking] to become persons at work with Christ? What about our church? Are we seeking [to be] a church where we can get by relaxed and comfy? Or rather, are we [seeking to be] a church where the work of the living Christ is abundantly made manifest and many people come to know the grace of God first-hand, even if it means there are times we must endure things at one level or another, or come up against unpleasant things that will happen, or pay sacrifices of one price or another? -- We too want to get to where we will declare with joy on that soon coming day, "Although I had a lot of terrible things [to face], although I had hard times, although I had bad days, Christ was certainly there for me, and many people came to know the grace of God first-hand for themselves."