My wife overheard me as I made this video and noted that I made a BIG mistake. (Theological error) Rather than redoing the video, I decided to give you the chance to take advantage of my mistake. If you let me know what my mistake was, I’ll put you in a drawing for a free set of my devotional books. That’s one set from all the different social media groups I post this to.
As we finish Mark 1, we begin experiencing what scholars call “The Messianic Secret.” Jesus prevented the demons from telling who He was, but also sought to persuade those He helped to avoid mentioning what He had done. There was no healer greater than Jesus, but His mission was to proclaim the kingdom of God. As soon as people found out that they could be healed if they met Jesus, though, He’d spent a lot of time healing. We see the beginning of the spread of the message of the Kingdom of God as Jesus deliberately follows His call to proclaim His message instead of settling for a ministry of miracles and healing.
32. And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. 33. And all the city was gathered together at the door. 34. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.
As we look at the continuation of the story that began in the synagogue and carried over to Peter’s house, we see an interesting time shift: evening – when the sun set. Why was that important? The Jewish day goes from sundown to sundown. The Sabbath begins when most of us in the western world would simply recognize a beautiful sunset on Friday. It continues until sunset on Saturday. When the sun set, any Sabbath restrictions on travel and work would no longer be in effect and people could travel, help those who were sick, or do any other work. In this situation, we see that not only are the people seeking to observe the Sabbath, they avoided putting Jesus in the place of working on the Sabbath. Would Jesus have healed people if they had come on the Sabbath? Probably, but by waiting until sun set, the people didn’t put Jesus in what they would have considered an awkward situation. Once the sun set, though, the crowds gathered bringing those who were sick and demon-possessed. It may not have been hyperbole when Mark proclaimed that the whole city showed up at the door. And Jesus took the time and the effort to heal those who were sick and cast demons out of those who were possessed. I always found it interesting that Jesus wouldn’t let the demons tell everyone who He was. I guess that getting the imprimatur of demons might not have looked good as Jesus ministered to the people. Later, He would be accused of casting out demons with satanic power (e.g. Luke 11:15) so getting their endorsement might have made things a lot worse. At the same time, it was one thing to be recognized as a teacher who could perform miracles, but having people see Him as Messiah would up the expectations and lead people to expect a military leader. As the disciples began to realize that Jesus was Messiah, they implied that they expected some kind of military move to overthrow the Romans.
35. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. 36. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. 37. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.
Martin Luther is said to have prayed two hours a day in the morning. Unless he had reason to believe that he was dealing with great difficulties: then he spent three hours a day. Disclaimer: I can’t imagine doing that! Yet, the example we see from Jesus is that He spent a great deal of time in prayer. In this instance, He rose early in the morning, got away from everyone, and prayed. Simon (Peter) and the other three disciples looked for Him because everyone else was looking for Him. When they found Him, it was almost like they rebuked Him for going off and praying. They wanted Jesus to know that people were looking for Him: maybe newcomers who had heard gossip about the healings, maybe people who had heard about His teachings. Whatever the case, they wanted Jesus to strike while the iron was hot and they had a hard time understanding why He would spend time in prayer when there was so much to do. Our world has a similar attitude. In the church we have people who feel bad because all they can do is pray, not realizing that prayer is vital to the life and work of the church. We have people who don’t have time to pray because they’re too busy working for God. Outside the church, people laugh behind our backs that we believe that prayer makes a difference. Our response to those inside and outside the church who would disdain prayer as vital to our being as followers of Christ should be to begin by praying for them, remind them how much Jesus emphasized prayer, and then pray for them again.
38. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. 39. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.
Jesus’s response was not what they were expecting. Perhaps they were thinking that Jesus could set up a nice business for Himself, healing all those who were sick or demon-possessed. If He had done that, He wouldn’t have needed to make house calls, since, as people heard about Him, they would flock to Him. Jesus let them know immediately that God had a different idea. He was called to go to other places and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God. Because of that, He walked throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and casting out demons. I have no doubt that if Jesus was looking for a nice, calm life, He could have set up shop in any of these towns, but that wouldn’t have fit in with God’s call. He found God’s call on His life by praying, and He lived each day gaining power to fulfill His call by praying.
40. And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 41. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. 42. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
While Jesus was traveling between preaching areas in Galilee, a leper stopped in front of Him and asked Jesus to make him clean. We take this action in stride, but what the leper did in this situation broke all of society’s norms for proper behavior by a leper. A leper was supposed to wear rags, let everyone know that he or she was unclean, and maintain social distancing. Instead, this leper got within arm’s length of Jesus and begged Him to cleanse his disease. He asked Jesus by noting that if He wanted to, He could make that leper clean. The NIV describes Jesus as being indignant while the King James describes Jesus as being moved with “compassion.” If indignant is the correct translation, I can only imagine that Jesus was indignant at the way lepers in general were treated. I think, though, that Jesus being moved by compassion is much more in line with the nature of Jesus. He was so moved with compassion that He reached out and touched this man and brought cleansing to him. The minute Jesus touched him, he was no longer a leper, he was a man, an individual, someone important in God’s eyes. The reminder for us is that all people are important in the eyes of God and rather than label them, we should embrace them with His love.
43. And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; 44. And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 45. But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.
Leprosy was a dangerous, frightening disease which led to the precautions that included isolating people with leprosy and the requirement to verbally warn people that they were around. Being healed of leprosy was a great event that involved verification by a priest and special sacrifices with the ritual prescribed by Moses himself. When Jesus healed this man, He told him to follow the Law. He also told the guy not to say what happened to those around him, but to make sure that he did things decently and in order: by the book, if you will. The guy’s joy was too great and he told everyone he met what Jesus had done for him. The result was that Jesus couldn’t go into a city without being mobbed. The mobs would focus on His healings instead of the message He had from God and that would derail His mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God. So, He started teaching in various spots around the desert and people still flocked to Him. While we can criticize this guy for not doing what Jesus said, we can’t fault his enthusiasm. In fact, we should have the same enthusiasm in our world today as we share the love and grace of Jesus with others; as we share what Jesus has done for us. Has Jesus made a difference in your life? If your answer is “yes” how can you avoid sharing with the same excitement this man had. If the answer is “no” please contact me and I would love to share how He will.