28th September, 2012
BRUCE C. WEARNE
Read Mark 1:28-39
PICTURE: Janet Eastwood/www.istockphoto.com
"The Gospel writers tell us that demons fled when they saw Him coming. Jesus came into people's lives and they were set free from bondage. So He began to make His reputation by healing and teaching, helping people to thank God for the good things He was doing."
That day was remembered by the people for a long time afterwards. The man cured of the evil spirit in the synagogue had reacted to rumours coming from Nazareth, but now a report of good news spread around Galilee. The new Rabbi, the one John had talked about, had started work. John may have been in prison, but the news of God's love and mercy was still going to be spread around. John's message of repentance and getting ready for God's Kingdom was being kept alive by the One who came after John!
Other things happened. Peter’s family would remember that Sabbath all their lives. Simon was his earlier name and his wife’s mother was very ill. Jesus knew how to treat sick people. In those days sickness and evil spirits were thought to be part of the same thing. Jesus drove out many demons. The Gospel writers tell us that demons fled when they saw Him coming. Jesus came into people's lives and they were set free from bondage. So He began to make His reputation by healing and teaching, helping people to thank God for the good things He was doing. But He also restrained people from spreading the news of what He was doing. When He healed people they no longer needed to shout out all over the place.
Jesus' announced “The Kingdom of God is here!” Among other things, this meant that His work would be done according to the will of His Father in Heaven. That is why Jesus prayed, asking His Father to bless His daily work just like we all have to do. Very early, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. He started His day's work praying to God on His own, without distractions. He seems to have been planning the teaching He would do in the synagogues and in the surrounding regions. He would not stay in one place. He went out to preach the good news and this meant moving on, getting the message out to people, where they were. He would go to the people, to where they were. This was something His disciples learned from Him. Later they would follow His example by moving from place to place when they preached the Gospel.
At first Jesus' work was based in Capernaum, where Peter, Andrew, James and John lived. Jesus travelled around the little towns of Galilee, teaching about repentance and God’s Kingdom. As we have said, He taught in the synagogues. He moved on. We shall see later that His family, His mother and brothers followed Him around but didn't fully understand why He was always on the move. They sometimes made it hard for Him, and something the crowds did too.
Why did Jesus go from place to place? Why didn't He stay in one place and have the people come to Him there? This is an important question. He moved among the people to teach them that God comes to us to rule our lives where we are...now. The good news is that God's Son has come to establish His Kingdom where we are, here and now. That's what Jesus taught. That's why He travelled around.
I wonder. Was Mark himself part of Peter's extended family? Did he know that house where the mother of Peter's wife lived? What we have here reads like the account based on an eyewitness report. Mark was part of this family network. Have a look at Acts 12:12-19. That is the story of how Peter was hidden when he escaped Herod's prison and certain death. This story tells us that Mark was part of an extended network which included his own family, and the disciples of John the Baptist and Jesus, who then were needing to keep their heads down.
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