Mark Sermon # 4 January 28, 2018
Mark 1:29-39 “Who is this Jesus…Who Makes You Whole, Shuns Popularity, and Craves Time with His Father?”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
“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 immediately 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.
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.
Allow me to share two introductory remarks.
First, notice that the action in this passage of Scripture begins with Jesus leaving the synagogue (29) and ends with Jesus again preaching in their synagogues (39). Jesus wisely used the synagogues of the region as his initial points of contact with the people.
So let me ask you: “If Jesus was starting His ministry today, where would begin engaging his audiences?” I think He would likely use church buildings and community centers to engage people with the Good News of the Kingdom of God. He might also use as the various social media to advance the gospel. Can you image following Jesus on Facebook or Twitter? This should get us thinking about the best ways to spread the gospel! What points of contact does God want you to use to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ?
Second, did you see that the dual focus of Jesus’ ministry -first in Capernaum and then throughout Galilee – was (1) the preaching the Good News of God’s Kingdom (1:14-15, 21-22, 38-39), and (2) the driving out of demons (23-27, 33, and 39)? Mark, the gospel writer, is telling us that (1) the preaching of the gospel and (2) the expulsion of the demons are the two prongs of His breakthrough ministry. They are the means by which He will liberate those who are enslaved and oppressed by the demonic forces. The preaching of God’s Word and the overcoming of Satan’s grip on people are the means by which God’s Kingdom of Light and Truth invades the kingdom of darkness and overcomes it, so that the redeeming power of Gospel breaks through and rescues us. As is gloriously expressed in Colossians 1:13-14, “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Then what about the miracles of healing which Jesus performed, you might ask? We will deal with that question in a little bit, but for now, let’s just say that the miracles of healing that Jesus performed were done mainly to give overwhelming evidence of Jesus’ authority and person, as the Divine Son of God, the promised Messiah, who would bring salvation, forgiveness, and peace with God!
Now to our three main points – three more great things we see about this amazing Jesus!
First: One touch by Jesus makes you whole again (29-31)
Here we see Jesus healing and restoring Simon’s mother-in-, in a personal, tender manner. Jesus’ touch here tells us volumes about what He is like and how much he loves us. For to touch us in healing and in love is the outward expression of His tenderness to us. Remember that when you feel distant from the Lord. He knows your deepest needs and comes to you in power and in tenderness to heal you, in your deepest parts. As the old Bill Gaither song put it, “He touched me, Oh He touched me, and Oh the joy that floods my soul! Something happened and now I know, He touched me and made me whole.”
Notice also that when Jesus took away this woman’s fever, her full strength was restored to her at once! The fever left her immediately, and immediately she got up and began to get a meal ready for this unexpected crowd! She didn’t need a day or two to get up to full speed. No. One touch by Jesus and she is made whole again. Amazing! We see Jesus doing this again and again in the gospels. He says a word to the wind and the waves and they immediately calm down, with absolutely no trace of a storm! Jesus heals the woman who had been the 12 years of hemorrhaging for 12 years – imagine how weak and tired she felt- and immediately she is fully restored to wholeness! The same with the lame, the blind, and the lepers who came to Jesus! The pattern is that a full-bodied wholeness, peace, or Shalom is immediately present after Jesus speaks a word of healing!
And not only does the touch of Jesus bring instant healing, but that it also results in grateful devotion and glad service, to Jesus and to others. Simon’s mother in law gets up from her sick bed and immediately starts making a meal!
This principle is true for you and me today. That is, when Jesus touches your life, He makes you whole again. He restores you and gives you the fullness of God’s Shalom. Romans 5:1 “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” When Jesus comes to you and touches you, by faith, He heals you – deep inside – so that you are not only made whole; He heals you so that you can be used of God to serve others, and find great joy in doing so! Let me ask you: have you experienced Jesus’ touch on your soul? Do you long for it? Confess that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, and call out to Him.
Second: Everyone wants something from Jesus, but few give themselves to Him. (32-34)
Here we read of Jesus healing the sick and driving out demons, for many people, – “The whole town gathered at the door – as they are brought to him. The people waited until the Sabbath ended in order to not break any Sabbath laws about doing work. Now can you picture the scene at Simon’s house that evening? Person after person is brought to Jesus – the sick, the crippled, the dying, the demon-possessed, and Jesus heals every one of them! Yet most of those who came to Jesus simply wanted something from him; they wanted to experience his healing power, but few if any wanted to follow in His presence and be His disciples.
Now on the one hand we can appreciate the supporting, evidential role that these miracles of healing play. Tim Keller notes that “The healing (ministry of Jesus) shows that He is concerned with – and king over – the physical world – not just the spiritual.” These miracles of healing are clear proofs of Jesus’ authority, as he demonstrates that he has real power over sickness- and over Satan. There are about 30 healings recorded in the gospel accounts. Therefore these miracles of healing are not only for the benefit of those who are cured; they are meant to be confirmations of who Jesus is and that He has come with the Father’s power and authority.” No other religious leader did such miracles of healing – not Buddha, not Mohammad, not any pope, and not Brigham Young – only Jesus did, to give proof of Who He is.
But on the other hand we note that the people came to Jesus, not because they recognized who He was, as the demons did, but because they heard the rumor that a miracle worker was in their midst. William Lane writes: “Jesus had come to preach repentance and the nearness of the kingdom, but the people thought only of relief from pain and affliction. They fail to perceive the significance of Jesus’ conflict with demonic power. In compassion and grace Jesus extends to them authentic healing, but it is not primarily for this purpose that He has come.”
You see, Jesus’ purpose was not to heal as many people as possible, but to confront men and women with the demand for a decision, in light of God’s absolute claim on their lives.
The crowds’ response to “come to Jesus” was not based on a decision of repentance and faith, but rather based on an attraction to Him as a performer of miracles.
There are obvious implications for why people are attracted to any present day so-called “miracle workers” and “faith-healers.” People, including nominal Christians, are so easily satisfied with surface matters and temporal relief, instead of seeing Jesus as the blazing center of our lives. So churches that feature “entertainment” and “big shows” draw crowds, while those who proclaim the Lordship of Jesus are usually smaller.
This is one reason why Christians today in America are often so shallow and self-centered.
Be careful that you are not looking for a magical Jesus who does what you want Him to do!
Let me ask each of you: Did you come to Jesus because of what He could selfishly offer you? I confess that I did! I was drawn to Jesus at age 17 because He could give me a peace and a purpose for my life that I had never had before. I admit that I came to Christ for what He could give to me. But in the 48 years since then I have come to see that Jesus is my all in all. Yes, He meets my deepest needs. But I am learning that the Gospel is ultimately about orbiting around King Jesus, not Jesus orbiting around me and my puny needs! It is Jesus that I am drawn to, and therefore I give myself to Him. How about you?
Third, Jesus gets His direction from His Father, not from the polls (35-39)
After an exhausting day of teaching, healing, and driving our demons, Jesus gets up and leaves Simon’s house very early in the morning, and while it was still dark, and goes off to a solitary (desert/wilderness) place, in order to pray. Mark uses a double term meaning “wilderness place,” but the geographical area around Capernaum was not an arid desert. So where did Jesus actually go? The term denotes a solitary place, one which recalls the wilderness of the Exodus and the wilderness where He encountered Satan and his temptations (1:12-13).
The language indicates that Jesus prayed for hours before His disciples found him. It may be that all the healings and exorcisms of the previous evening took a toll on Jesus (see Mark 5:30, for power flowing out of Him), and so on the one hand He sought to be renewed and refreshed by taking time alone with His Father, in private.
But it was more than just getting His batteries recharged. For by returning to this solitary place, Jesus is deliberately turning from the calling of the clamoring crowds and turning back to His Father’ mission. This is crucial, because Jesus will always get His direction, His guidance, and His energy, by communing with His Father in Heaven though prolonged times of prayer. Jesus does not chart his course, like so many politicians do, by listening to the pollsters and seeing what the people want! No! Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, is not beholden to the will of the people; rather, His food is to do the will of Him who sent Him.
So while Simon and the others were saying “Jesus, things are going great in your ministry. Let’s go back and capitalize on it!” Jesus had other priorities.
Even when everyone is looking for him (hoping for more miracles), Jesus’ priorities are clear: He must move on and continue to preach (the Good News) in the nearby villages, for “That is why I have come.” (36-39). Jesus is telling us that He was much more interested in the quality or the depth of people’s response to Him than He was in the size or quantity of the crowd. [That’s something that all pastors and Christian leaders should remember!]
Although we may well believe that Jesus prayed to His Father every day, it is significant that in Mark’s gospel we see Jesus in prayer only three times: first at the beginning of his ministry (here); second, in the middle of his ministry, after feeding the 5,000 (6:46 – when the people wanted to make Him king, by force – see John 6:15); and third, near the end of his ministry (14:32-34), in Gethsemane. Each of these times are critical moments in Jesus’ life and ministry, and each one happens at night and in solitude. Each time He is strengthened to continue on, to do the Father’s will, and not get sidetracked.
What does that tell us about the importance of time alone with the Lord in prayer? E. Stanley Jones once described prayer as a “time exposure to God,” like an old photographic plate that when exposed more and more to God, progressively bears His image and likeness. Where and when do you seek to meet with God in prayer? You should have a plan to do so. Make one!
Like Jesus, we must constantly be refreshed in, or brought back to, the center of God’s will. The pressures of your job, your family, your desires to please people and be thought of as a nice person will all be clamoring for your attention – just like the crowds in Capernaum were – so you need to retreat with the Lord. You need to get away from people’s expectations and demands through a daily time alone with God. Mediate in God’s Word and ask Him to speak into your life and read you. Humble yourself in prayer before the Lord and seek His face, to know Him and love Him and to desire to do His good and perfect will for your life.
Make the time – and find a place – to allow Jesus to become the Lover of your soul.
By faith, seek to behold Jesus Christ… the One who can make you whole and give you His Shalom peace; the One who isn’t interested in popularity or in the latest polls… the One who also craves time alone with His Father. Commune with Him; pour out your heart to Him, and to hear His voice of encouragement, challenge, and comfort.