Jesus Heals Many
29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Jesus Prays in a Solitary Place
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
A Man With Leprosy
40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”
41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
PP: some of the thoughts below were also addressed in comments to earlier posts…just in case they sound familiar!
In these three passages, a common theme is revealed that will continue throughout the opening chapters of Mark: Jesus brings with him the power and authority and the character of the Kingdom – healing, authority, teaching. The crowds are of course drawn by this new teaching, and by the miracles that they have heard about, and throng to Christ. But instead of courting these crowds and amassing followers…he avoids them. He commands demons not to reveal his true divine identity. He asks those who are healed not to tell everyone, but to give the proper offering for their healing. And he seeks out solitude, rather than the crowds.
For a person who is beginning a new movement, this behavior seems wildly counter-productive – why not tell everyone? Why not get more and more followers? A couple of important reasons: that Jesus had not yet accomplished what he had come to do. Yes, Jesus did come to preach the Kingdom and heal the sick and drive out demons, but this was not the main reason – he came to die for our sins. Until that happens, Jesus’ work and the gospel as we know it is not yet complete. Jesus maintains his focus, not to get distracted by adoring followers, not to get hung up on numbers, not to see his time on earth as a popularity contest, but instead keeps his eyes on a very difficult prize: the cross, and his victory over sin. In our ministries, in our churches, in our lives, are we getting distracted by externals and forgetting about Christ crucified?
And to some extent, this also hints at the true nature of discipleship, that Jesus shuns large crowds because a crowd is a terrible place to create disciples. Discipleship can never happen in large crowds because they allow you to be anonymous, to come and go and make decisions on your own pace and pleasure, to avoid accountability and transparency and vulnerability, all of which are vital to a life of true discipleship…
We may like being a faceless part of a crowd because it is easy and comfortable, and we can remain masters of our time, of our privacy, and our lives. But there are few deadlier mentalities for a Christian to have than the desire to remain anonymous because it reveals that we have a problem with the Lordship of Jesus Christ…and that is a big problem to have.
1. In your life and ministry, have you ever been completely distracted by something that you realize wasn’t important to God?
2. Superficial and external things are not bad in themselves, but only when they eclipse what they represent. Going back to the question above, how can you transform that distraction into a reminder of more important and eternal things?
3. When was the last time you consciously avoided something that you knew would be spiritually beneficial because you didn’t want to be vulnerable with others?
4. In your life, what are the best ways in which you can leave the crowd behind, and follow more in the footsteps of a disciple?