We are still considering the Church calendar, and in that context we are still considering Epiphany. Epiphany, as we have stated means “manifestation.” As we’ve been looking at these texts we’ve then been considering the manifestation of the Lord Christ and the manifestation of the purpose of His coming.
As it pertains to the Epiphany of the Lord Christ and the purpose of His coming Mark gives us bullet points as to these matters. Condensed and packed tightly Mark makes known the person of Christ and the purpose for His coming. In Mark 1:5 we are alerted that the coming of the Messiah has to do with the forgiveness of sins. There the Messiah’s “advance man” makes that clear. Eventually the promised “One who is coming” arrives and is Baptized thus identifying with the sons of Adam and in order to consecrate a new Priestly line. With the Baptism of Christ the heavens are split and the approval of the Father is heard communicating that God has come near to man in Christ. Unlike both Adam in the Garden and Israel in the Wilderness the Lord Christ overcomes the trials of Satan’s temptation and begins to announce that the Kingdom of God is at hand (1:15). After Messiah begins to re-establish Israel by calling what will be 12 disciples the Lord Christ immediately (a word used 14 times in Mark 1-2) begins to demonstrate the impact of the Kingdom upon this broken world. Last week we looked at that Kingdom impact in the Lord Christ casting out the Demon. This week we consider the healing ministry.
Clearly what Mark is doing here (and all the Gospel writers do, each in their own way) is that he is giving us the impact of the Kingdom of God against this present wicked age. The coming of the Messiah, with His Kingdom is with authority and power. Because of the Messiah and His Kingdom, the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. A pretty impressive resume. It might be helpful to you to keep this in mind when you are reading the Gospels.
I.) The Kingdom & Simon’s Home
Very well then, we get to this account that we have read this morning. After the Demoniac is healed in the synagogue Jesus attends to Simon Peter’s home. Upon arrival Peter’s mother-in-law is discovered as ill with a fever. Mark does not give us details here but we can well imagine this wasn’t a case of the sniffles. In the ancient world fevers could easily lead to long term debilitation and even death. The text indicates that no time was wasted between the time of the discovery of the illness of this loved one and the communication of this state of affairs to the Lord Christ.
With vs. 31 the problem is as quickly addressed as it was introduced. However let us consider a couple of the verbs in vs. 31. The text says “he raised her up,” and then “she served them.” The verb “raised her up,” will be used again in Mark 16:6 in application to the resurrection of the Lord Christ. It is a verb that Mark will use frequently to apply to healings .
Jesus simply “raises her up.” In Mark’s direct and uncomplicated style he says, “…and the fever left her and she served them.” The verbs are interesting. Simon Peter’s mother-in-law is “raised up” by Jesus. This Greek word takes on powerful meaning in Mark’s gospel. In 16:6, in reference to Christ’s resurrection, the same word is applied to Jesus himself. Mark uses egeiro in many healings (see, for example, 5:41, 9:27). This word communicates that strength is restored so that those ill, possessed, or even the dead, are renewed to their former place. Do not miss the fact that the healing was immediate and instantaneous. No recovery period required.
Something we should interject here, before we look at the second verb is who Jesus is dealing with. Jesus comes to those who would have been considered low on the Hebrew societal pecking order. His Kingdom is not only for the well healed and well placed. Mark establishes this by noting Jesus calling of Fishermen as disciples.
The Kingdom sweeps into its vortex all types of men and women — the high born, the low born, the crippled, the healthy, the fisherman, the tax collector. In terms of entrance into the Kingdom there are no credentials that one must bring in order to enter. Jesus here heals a daughter of Eve. Also we would add that it is interesting that Mark records Jesus’ first healing to be of a woman. A woman brought sickness into creation and a woman is the first who is healed in the coming of the re-creation.
The second verb we want to consider in vs. 31 is that “she served them.” The word is where we get our word “Deacon” from. She is healed and she returns to the task that God had assigned her. This is no lowly or mean position. After all, our Lord Christ will us this same word later in Mark to describe His own ministry.
Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Peter’s Mother-in-law was healed and upon being healing she rendered Kingdom service. All who are brought into the Kingdom are brought in to serve even if their service is by way of providing Leadership. Jesus underscored this when He washed His disciples feet.
II.) The Kingdom and the Crowd
A little context here. In the ancient world the homes typically did not have doors like we do today. The openings of the houses were such that one simply walked in and out. This helps us make sense of the whole city being at the door. They were crowded around and pressing in to have audience with the King and the Kingdom. This idea of door traffic is mentioned again in the next chapter. In 2:2 we are told that the traffic was so heavy that there wasn’t even enough room around the door.
Mark’s notation that the “sun had set” is likely indicative that the people were waiting until the Sabbath had ended in order to bring their loved ones. The people had been taught that work was not to be done on the Sabbath and healing was considered work. Keep in mind though that the Lord Christ had already healed on the Sabbath.
As we saw last week, so here, the Lord Christ does not allow the Demons to acknowledge Him. Perhaps it was a matter of not desiring the sulfur tongued to be His heralds.
Herman Ridderbos in his book “The Coming of the Kingdom offer here,
“From the beginning of his public activity Jesus’ power over Satan had already asserted itself. This is not only proved by the casting out of devils in itself, but also by the manner in which those possessed by the devil behave in his presence (cf. Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; Mark 5:7; Matt. 8:29; Luke 8:28,31). When Jesus approaches they raise a cry, obviously in fear. They show that they have a supernatural knowledge° of his person and of the significance of his coming (cf. Mark 1:34; 3:11). They call him “the Holy One of God,” “the Son of God,” “Son of the most high God.” By this they recognize his messianic dignity (ef. Luke 4:41). They consider his coming as their own destruction (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34); their torment (Matt. 8:29; Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28). They feel powerless and try only to lengthen their existence on earth (Matt. 8:29; Mark 5:10), and implore him not to send them into “the deep,” that is to say, the place of their eternal woe (Luke 8:31, cf. Rev. 20:3ff).9 All this shows that in Jesus’ person and coming the kingdom has become a present reality. For the exercise of God’s power over the devil and his rule has the coming of the kingdom for its foundation.”
Perhaps, also there was a desire to keep the sensationalism at a minimum so that He could more freely be about His work. This insistence that His work be kept as low key as possible is not unique here.
Mark 1:43-44, 3:11-12, 4:10-11, 5:19, 8:30, 9:9
This insistence on the stealth approach has sometimes been referred to as the Messianic secret. The idea is that the Lord Christ constantly kept tamping down his fame so that the Father’s plan for His death would not be accelerated by popular enthusiasm.
The question is asked why we do not continue to see these kinds of healing and miracles today since the Kingdom is still present and for the answer we have to consider the place of all this in God’s redemptive History. The reason that all this is happening is that a very particular time in Redemptive History has arrived. All of this activity is giving testimony that this unique time in History has arrived. All of what is happening here and then later with the Apostles after Pentecost is part of a single, comprehensive crescendo part of history. All this is done in light of the Historical coming of the Kingdom and it is done only with the arrival of the Messiah and His Kingdom and the establishment of His Church. Here, in this point in History, the cornerstone and foundation is laid. From the close of the canon forward the superstructure is built upon this unique point in time history. To ask for more of this Historical uniqueness is like asking to be 25 again. That historical moment has passed. This is not to say that remarkable providences or inexplicable healings don’t still happen as God ordains. It is to say that we are at a different time of Redemptive History. Do keep in mind that were it the case that we were to have the same kind of demonstration of authority and power as we find in this Redemptive time, this time would no longer be seen as a time that was unique and Historically epoch. That time of Christ would be “just another” day.
While the Pentecostals and Charismatics are full of good intentions they sully the record and uniqueness of Redemptive History with their insistence that 2015 and every year must be the same Historical Epoch as the 1st Century when Jesus and the Apostles ministered.
III.) The Kingdom & Continued Ministry
In the midst of this Kingdom expansion the Lord Christ takes time to commune with He who, according to His divine nature is one with. This bespeaks the intimacy between the Father and Son. The text says a solitary place. Some translate it as deserted.
There is a theme that runs through Scripture of God’s man and the desert or solitary space. Often you find that God raises His man up for service but before He employs him for service God puts him on the back side of the desert.
Elijah — I Kings 19 // Moses — Exodus 3 // David — I Samuel 23:14 // John the Baptist — Desert prophet // Paul — Desert years
It is beneficial to see an implied connection made between the Kingdom work of the Lord Christ and the intimacy with the Father that accompanies it. The Lord Christ is no rogue agent but in His work he is about the will of the Father whom he spends solitary time.
B.) Purpose statement — Mark 1:38 -39 — Purpose statement — “Therefore came I forth … that I might preach there also.”
“That I may preach there also” // Preaching, healing, and casting out. // Preaching is shorthand for all three
Though shorthand for all three the primacy is on preaching the good news of the Kingdom. The miracles only have meaning to the end of confirming what was being preached. The disciples want to constrain Jesus to a theology of glory where everyone is being wowed by the next miracle. Jesus insists on pressing on to the next community to preach the glad tiding of the presence of the Kingdom.
We would be wrong to quickly glide by the purpose statement made by the Lord Christ here. He tells us here why he came.
Christ is concerned that the message of the Kingdom receive the widest of audiences. This is consistent with what we find in the OT concerning the Messiah.
Isaiah 61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;[a]
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;[b]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
These “I have come” purpose statements are important inasmuch as they presuppose the pre-existence of the Lord Christ. In saying, “I have come” there is an implied idea that He has come from somewhere previous. So, the “coming” mentioned here must be conceived as a “coming out of heaven.”
Further the “I have come statements,” reveal that the Messiah was epistemologically self conscious about who He was as Messiah and what His task was. Jesus has come to call “sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17ff); “to throw fire on the earth” (Luke 12:49); “to bring the sword and not peace” (Matt. 10:34ff, cf. Luke 12:51ff); he has not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but “to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17); “to proclaim the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:38), He has come “to seek and to save the lost” (Luk 19:10), He has come “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” All of this suggests that the Lord Christ knew His supernatural origins and His task of bringing in the Kingdom.
Conclusion — Recap