We’re finishing up a section of Mark – chapter 1:16-34. We’re in the last part today.
This is a unit of material that all fits together. I have a handout for you that shows how this is so. The main thing I want to point out is that there’s a repetition of themes in this passage:
- A1 echoes A – they both have to do with Jesus establishing his church.
- And B1 echoes B – they both have to do with the display of Jesus’ great authority or power.
So vs 29-31 are not just about Jesus being in a home. These verses describe a forming house church. And vs. 32-34 are not a random set of healings and exorcisms. These verses are meant to extend the picture of Jesus’ amazing authority, already seen in section B.
Alright let’s begin with the first part of our passage for today –
29And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
So Jesus has just cast out a demon during the Sabbath synagogue service. And now he comes to Simon or Peter and Andrew’s home in Capernaum.
It wasn’t unusual for extended family to live together like this in one home, Peter, and as we will see, his wife and mother-in-law and Andrew. We don’t know if Andrew was married. [Paul also tells us that Peter is married in 1 Corinthians 9:5.]
There’s a contrast in this passage between the synagogue and the newly forming church. The phrase, “he left the synagogue and entered the house” means more than you might think. We have to understand that the early church in Jesus’ day and in the book of Acts and beyond – met in homes. So, as we will see, this isn’t just a home, it becomes the first house church that Jesus establishes.
30Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
[This is the shortest recorded healing in the Gospels.]
In the ancient world a “fever” wasn’t seen as a symptom of another illness, but was viewed as its own ailment. And what they called a fever could be very serious. In John 4 (vs. 46-53) the person with a fever was at the point of death.
Notice, she was laying down, but Jesus takes her by the hand and raises her up. This is a beautiful picture of how Jesus works in our lives, isn’t it? He touches us and where we are low, broken and down – he raises us up by helping us, healing us and giving us new life.
The fact that she was healed is established in that she gets up and begins to work right away. She didn’t need recovery time. She was healed immediately.
This woman’s response, no doubt from gratitude to Jesus, is an example to us all. It says, “she began to serve them.” The word “serve” here is an important one. It’s a word that Jesus uses to talk about what it means to follow him (Mark 9:33-37; 10:42-54). She’s a model disciple here – serving others. (She is doing what the angels did for Jesus in Mark 1:13. It’s the same word.)
Specifically, she was likely serving food and giving hospitality to the guests in her home.
In the New Testament there are two basic kinds of service: 1) sharing the word – preaching or teaching, and 2) meeting the practical needs of others.
- Peter says in 1 Peter 4:10-11 – “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies”
- And in Acts 6:1-4 Peter speaks of “the service of the word” – the apostle’s preaching and “table service” – what the Deacons did in taking care of the practical needs of the church in Jerusalem.
Now, all Christians share the gospel and serve the needs of others, but we each have specialties based on our calling and gifting.
So we have here a forming house church. The disciples have been chosen to proclaim the word, and the woman represents the house church as a support network for each other and for those out proclaiming the word. The service of the word and table service.
Also notice the example of intercessory prayer in this passage. The disciples make known to Jesus the need of Peter’s mother-in-law. And Jesus heals her. The church is to be a place where we pray for the needs of others.
With regard to the contrast between the synagogue and this forming house church – the synagogue marveled at Jesus’ authority, but didn’t respond with faith and obedience. Peter’s mother in law, an example of the church, responds correctly. She served Jesus and his followers.
One final point, notice that this healing took place on the Sabbath, right after the synagogue service. This will become an issue of great conflict with the Jewish authorities in chapter 3.
This story challenges us in several ways:
Where do you need Jesus to raise you up? What’s your need? What’s your burden this morning? Look to Jesus for he’s the Savior; the one with all power and authority to act for us.
Are we bringing the needs of others to Jesus for help? Intercession is a ministry of connecting people in need with the one who can help through prayer. Are we regularly praying for others?
When Jesus raises you up, do you serve him and his people? This is the right response, to use the gifts that he gives us to serve others.
Let’s continue on . . .
32That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33And the whole city was gathered together at the door.
At sundown is when the Jewish day ends. So the Sabbath is over at this point and Sunday has begun. This is noted because bringing the sick to Jesus, and even Jesus’ healing ministry could be seen as a violation of the Sabbath. So they waited.
When it says, “all” the sick and demon oppressed, and the “whole” city, we have some hyperbole going on. As we will see later, not all the sick in Capernaum are healed here (for instance, 2:3). But it does point to how broad Jesus’ ministry is. He’s having a very large impact on the city.
[Notice how Mark distinguishes between the sick and the demon oppressed. They are not the same.]
The “door” where people are gathering, refers to the door of Peter and Andrew’s house.
34And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
When it says he healed “many” and cast out “many” demons, this is just another way of saying “all.” This is how ancient Jews used this word (3:10; 10:45). (Matthew reverses the adjectives. See Luke 4 also).
Jesus’ great authority is displayed here in that he can heal any kind of disease, not just some. No disease, or demon for that matter, is too difficult for Jesus. And he can heal and cast demons out of many people, not just a few.
Now, we are told here that “the demons knew him.” They are from the spirit world and know who Jesus is – the Son of God become human. But Jesus uses his authority to silence them. He does this, as we saw, because he wants to reveal himself in his own way and own time.
As we see in this story and beyond, Peter and Andrew’s house church becomes the base of operations in Capernaum (2:1; 3:20; 7:17; 9:33), not the Synagogue. And the description of this first house church presents a beautiful image of the church, which I would hold up for us today.
- Jesus is in the church (the house), the Savior who has all authority and power to help and save.
- And the church doesn’t try to keep him just for themselves. The door is open.
- And everyone in need gathers around to be made whole by Jesus.
May we be just such a church, with Jesus powerfully present in our midst, with our door open to those in need.
May we be the place where the needs of the world are met by the love and power of Jesus.
And may those so blessed come to serve and honor him; to believe the good news and repent and thus enter the kingdom of God.
This is who God calls us to be.