Jesus Heals the Sick
Pastor Jim Kniseley presented this sermon at Resurrection on February 8, 2015, the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany. The gospel reading is Mark 1:29-39.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Last Sunday we heard about Jesus’ experience in the synagogue at Capernaum. While he was there a man with a demon interrupted the worship service with his shouting. Jesus healed this man of his illness and demon possession. This type of odd behavior occurs often enough in churches that our local pastors’ group will have a session on this topic at our March gathering. Our gospel reading today continues where Mark’s gospel account left off. Jesus and his disciples leave the synagogue and enter the house of Simon and Andrew. Simon (Peter) and Andrew are brothers. There are other family members living there too.
Now we hear about a very specific healing that takes place. The mother-in-law of Simon Peter (we don’t know her name) is in bed with a fever. Mark tells us: He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
Between the time of the healing and sundown something happened that is not recorded in Mark, but we can certainly guess. For at sundown, we’re told, “the whole city was gathered around the door” and they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons”.
Yes, it’s hard to keep things to yourself in a small village. One person tells, and another person tells, and soon everyone knows. So it becomes good news and bad news for Jesus we learn later in Mark. The good news is that lots of people come out to be in his presence. He has a wide audience to preach and teach. The bad news is that many come out to see a spectacle; to gawk. What they came out to see was the performance of healing before their very eyes. You get the image of an old-time medicine show or circus. In Mark it appears that the teaching and preaching from Jesus was tolerated, but was not the main thing for a sizeable number of folks.
I wonder today how many folks come to worship looking for a show and aren’t able to hear the good news of the gospel. The good news is that God has a passion for our well-being in this life and the next. He does not want us to suffer. Jesus came to proclaim the message of salvation to people who are hurting, and he wants us to do the same. What he says in today’s gospel is this: Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came to do. And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
What about the ministry of healing in this congregation? I feel it is a blessing and a privilege to serve in a congregation that has a passion and special calling to do health ministry. We may not do it in a big and splashy way, but we do so with faith and confidence in Jesus Christ. Next Sunday afternoon our Health Team is sponsoring another CPR/AED Workshop and I see that already 14 of you have signed up. On Sunday, March 8, our Health Team is conducting a First Aid Workshop and folks are already signing up. Last week we talked about the Mental Health First Aid Workshop we put on at Resurrection last year. I have a wonderful resource to share with you today. We call this “A Friend in Your Pocket”. This small green card contains a short list of where to call for confidential, immediate help in times of crisis. The first resource is the Mental Health Helpline for the greater Fredericksburg area.
I am pleased that we have a Parish Nurse here at Resurrection. Betty Parde is very serious about her volunteer responsibility. Many of you know that she makes contact with you about the folks you put on the prayer list each week. And every Wednesday she makes sure that she or someone else brings those names to our altar during our Wednesday noon worship service.
We’re recognized and remembered in the greater community for our Annual Health Faire. We have quarterly healing services in which we ask every worshipper to receive prayers and be anointed with oil, observing the ancient practice of the church. Perhaps the final opportunity we have in our healing ministry is what will take place again on Good Friday this year. We will have our Prayer Vigil most of the day in this sanctuary. Our prayers will include praying that God will bless and heal those we name aloud in our prayers.
Part of today’s gospel reading includes what Jesus did in order to become refreshed and refocused for life and ministry. It is, by my reckoning, the first time that the disciples realized what Jesus did. He was setting a good example for them and us. He went off by himself to a deserted place and prayed. It was just God and him. Some have speculated that Jesus was somewhat of an introvert in his personality. That’s speculation. I relate to that personally, because I too really need my times of getting away and being quiet in order to get energized for life and ministry. Extroverts, as you know, get their energy from being with other people and getting stimulation from things external.
This day I hope that you will do whatever it takes to be in conversation with God. I hope that you will use Jesus as your model. I further hope that you and I will continue to lift up the ministry of healing. We at Resurrection have only begun to see the opportunities that Jesus is presenting to us. As we seek to better state what the mission of Resurrection should be, I would point us to Jesus and his mission to proclaim the good news, for that is the call of God.