Sunday

4 February 2018

Mark 1:29-39

“And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.” (v. 39)

Psalm: Psalm 147


Background

Today’s passage emphasises the power that Jesus wields over sickness and evil. Mark’s Gospel has already told his readers about the power of Jesus over evil spirits (Mark 1:21-28), and in three short paragraphs offers further evidence that Jesus had an authority like no one else, an authority that reveals his sonship of God.

In the first paragraph (verses 29-31), Jesus visits the house of Simon and Andrew, and – once there – heals Simon’s mother-in-law in bed who lay in bed with a fever. Touched by the goodness of Jesus, Simon’s mother-in-law “began to serve them” (v. 31).

The second paragraph (verses 32-34) summarises Jesus’ wider ministry of exorcism and healing. Since Jesus’ power had become more widely known, it is not surprising that the afflicted came to Jesus at Simon’s house. In fact, “the whole city was gathered around the door” (v. 31). In encountering their need, Jesus heals and delivers those who come to him.

Mark notes that Jesus “would not permit the demons to speak” (v. 34), an instruction that recurs throughout the Gospel in the so-called ‘messianic secret’ motif (Mark 1:44; 5:43; 8:29-30). Jesus’ calls for silence about his identity because it could only be truly known through the lens of the Cross and the Resurrection, a point emphasised throughout the Gospel (Mark 8:31-33; 9:30-32; 10:32-34).

In a final section, we read how Jesus left Capernaum to pray in a “deserted place” (v. 35). Jesus’ ministry was fuelled by his intimacy with the Father, providing a model for his later followers. Found by his disciples, Jesus explains that it was time to visit the neighbouring towns (verse 38). The message of the kingdom needed to be heard by others. While healings and exorcisms show the reality of the kingdom, Jesus seeks to share the message of the kingdom far and wide.


To Ponder

  • How have you experienced the power of Jesus in your life?
  • How does prayer sustain your own ministry or mission within the world?
  • Why do you think Jesus emphasises the importance of ‘proclaiming the message’ in other regions of Galilee?

Bible notes author

Ed Mackenzie

Dr Ed Mackenzie is the Discipleship Development Officer for the Methodist Church and an Associate Lecturer at Cliff College. He lives in Derbyshire with his wife Ali and their two sons.