I. Let's look first at how Jesus heals Simon=s mother-in-law.
We saw last week how Jesus showed his authority in his teaching and power over Satan. Now remember that all of this occurs on the Sabbath. This sets the stage for an ongoing conflict with the Jewish leaders as to what can or cannot be done on the Sabbath. By doing this healing on the Sabbath day, Jesus is already giving notice that he, as Lord of the Sabbath, has authority over the Sabbath as well. Mark wants to make it clear that Jesus has absolute authority over all things!
Mark says that they left the synagogue and went to Peter's home. Once there Jesus learns that Peter's mother-in-law was very sick. In the ancient world a fever was regarded as an independent disease and not a symptom of any variety of illnesses. In those days, if a person got a fever, it could often be something that would simply kill the person and so Peter's mother-in-law was evidently seriously ill. Mark says that Jesus went to her and stood by the bed. In that culture in those days, visitors could not sit on the bed or next to the bed but were to stand or sit on the floor. And so Jesus follows the prescribed customs of the day even in healing.
He then took the woman's hand and helped her up and Mark reports that at once the fever was removed. And not only was the fever gone, there was no trace of the weakness which would be expected under normal circumstances. When we are sick and our fever finally breaks, we still feel like we've been run over by a truck! This woman immediately stood up and started serving her guests. This meant that she prepared the evening meal for all her guests. She who had been so sick just moments before suddenly has the energy and life to put on a meal for a large group of people!
Let's think about that response of service for a moment. This response is what God desires from all of us who have been healed by God. God's amazing act of salvation should prompt us to service! When we recognize that God has saved us from sin and death, we are not to just sit back and bask in our new spiritual health. We should get up and begin serving God as an expression of gratitude to God for his saving acts in our lives. Also notice that Peter's mother-in-law serves not just Jesus but everyone present. This is not just a little detail Mark includes to make the story interesting. Mark is saying that this is the proper response on the part of those who have been saved and healed by God. You get up and you begin to serve others around you.
God has saved us and now it's time to express our gratitude to him for his saving us. Sue Mallory was your typical parishioner, attending church with her family on Sundays and getting her “ticket punched.” She appreciated the worship services of her Southern California congregation, but never really got involved. Then Sue and her family went through a health crisis. People from the congregation heaped mounds of ministry on her, even as a new, fringe person. She felt overwhelmed with gratitude and grace. When she returned to health, she decided to get more involved in service. One day her pastor approached her about the possibility of spearheading ministry involvement in her church as an unpaid staff person. She said yes, and began to mold and develop an equipping ministry in her home church. Zeal for her ministry and a vision for an equipping church resulted in her being tapped on the shoulder as an equipper of equippers. Sue Mallory responded to God's grace by using her gifts and serving others. What are ways you can show your gratitude to God in serving him and others?
Notice that Mark points out that the Sabbath is now over since it is now after sunset. Now throngs of people begin to descend on Jesus. Apparently the people delayed their coming until the close of the Sabbath lest they be accused of breaking the Sabbath laws. As soon as the Sabbath is over, however, they all went to Jesus. Mark says that "they brought to Jesus all the sick and the demon-possessed." Twice in Mark, here and in Mark 6:13, a clear distinction is made between general sickness and demonic possession. Jesus fights the enemy as well as those who are dealing with the results of the warfare with the enemy.
It was like the whole city was gathered at the door of Peter's house! Imagine that! If someone would be able to cure cancer or any other terminal disease, people would be flocking to that person in ways we can't even imagine! Think of the crowds on Black Friday that line up outside the door to get a good deal on Christmas presents. Someone who could heal and give life would put those lines to shame! Here we have crowds of people lined up so that they can be healed by Jesus. And in fact the verb in Greek indicates that the crowd is huge and growing fast! Here was an opportunity to find healing!
The reference in these verses to the demons who knew Jesus is general, but remember what we learned about how the demons recognized Jesus in Mark 1:23-26. In that instance, Jesus was recognized as the divine Son of God. The demons here as well knew exactly who Jesus was: the Son of God. They were able to see what all the other people around Jesus were not able to see. Think of a master and his dog that is very obedient. A dog may see a squirrel and want to bark like crazy. But a well trained dog will know that he must obey the master and will refrain from barking at simply a word from his master. That is the amount of authority Jesus has over the demons.
Last week we saw that Jesus simply told the demon in the possessed man to be silent! Here he silences their shrieks of recognition even before they speak. This is evidence as well that they were powerless before him. Why did Jesus prevent them from speaking and identifying him? It may be that just as he told some that he healed not to tell anyone, he is keeping the fact that he is the Messiah quiet. He is not ready to be fully revealed as the Son of God and Messiah yet for the people would try to turn him into a political figure. And so he silences the demons so that people would simply view him as an amazing miracle worker and not the Son of God.
What are we to do with this stage of Jesus' ministry? The people come out to see Jesus because here was someone who could take care of their needs but they didn't understand Jesus' true mission. Jesus had come to preach repentance and the nearness of the kingdom but the people think only of relief from pain and affliction that Jesus brings. They failed to grasp the significance of Jesus' conflict with demonic power. Yet in compassion and grace Jesus extends to them authentic healing, but it is not primarily for this purpose that he has come.
We love reading about the healings but it does raise some difficult questions for us. Why doesn't God heal all of us who have diseases? Go to any hospital and you will see the waiting rooms filled with people who would love to have their loved ones healed by Jesus. Many are God-fearing people who believe in Jesus and are praying for healing. Why doesn't God heal all today? However, let's remember that Jesus came to establish the kingdom and to bring ultimate healing to all of God's children. While we want to be healed of all diseases, we must thank God for the healing we have of our souls. And let's remember that sometimes God doesn't bring healing as we want but he still is holding on to us and walking with us. What about demons and the spiritual battles we face? Again, we don't have someone in our "synagogue" here who is possessed by a demon and we likely don't know anyone who is possessed. Yet we face spiritual battles in many different ways. Last week we looked at temptation. This week let's consider the way Satan works in our culture around us. We live in a culture that is shifting radically and quickly. The values of many around us are shifting as well and we have to realize that this too is a result of the powers of Satan trying to hurt Christians and hurt God's church.
We must love people and fight against the powers that propel people to do evil. In his sermon, "Love Your Enemies," Martin Luther King Jr. said:
"To those who hate us we shall say, ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you.... Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at midnight and beat us and leave us for half-dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer.’"
That is our response to the threats by those around us.
And then remember again that we have victory over sin and the power of Satan. God is the ruler and through Jesus he has defeated the powers of sin and Satan. Even though it seems like things are slipping away or out of control, God is in full control and he has won the victory. We can live in that certain victory even though we continue on in the spiritual battles we face.