February 9, 2003

Mark 1:29-39

Directly on leaving the meeting place, they came to Simon and Andrew's house, accompanied by James and John. Simon's mother-in-law was sick in bed, burning up with fever. They told Jesus. He went to her, took her hand, and raised her up. No sooner had the fever left than she was up fixing dinner for them.

That evening, after the sun was down, they brought sick and evil-afflicted people to him, the whole city lined up at his door! He cured their sick bodies and tormented spirits. Because the demons knew his true identity, he didn't let them say a word.

While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed. Simon and those with him went looking for him. They found him and said, "Everybody's looking for you."

Jesus said, "Let's go to the rest of the villages so I can there also. This is why I've come." He went to their meeting places all through Galilee, preaching and throwing out the demons.

[The Message]


1. Preaching and throwing out demons are quite scriptural. The question we don't quite know what to do with is how do we identify the line over which preaching and casting becomes demonic itself.

It is certainly easy to make a judgment against someone and to accuse them of needing exorcism. It places one in the very enviable spot of being in charge.

Once we get beyond Jesus it is important to pay attention to the wisdom of Jesus' body, the church. Rather than making individual announcements these matters now need to be taken up by the body as a whole.

There is a whole religious movement that claims the right to identify the demonic, the heretic, and so even getting a lot of people to agree doesn't get us out of the question.

Eventually we find ourselves in the midst of mystery - the mystery of good as well as the mystery of evil. Who knows what good or evil lurks in the heart? The mysterious shadow knows.

In the meantime, lets keep working at this matter without getting too sure we have it right. In some sense we are in the same arena as the death penalty. More and more we are finding out that penalty is quite biased. May we all be careful in our accusations.

2. How do you think Simon and the others went looking for Jesus? Were they scared that he was missing? Had he been kidnapped by Herod? By other terrorists? Were they feeling lost themselves and searching for surety? Had they played this game before of Jesus going off to pray and they knew some of his favorite spots? Were they hungry because they too left early, before breakfast? Did this make them edgy?

And when Simon found Jesus was his comment simply matter of fact? Did he have an edge in his voice at being delayed in eating and the eggs would be cold and the cereal soggy? Was he joyful or excited that there was work to be done and it was time to get to it?

3. In the dark, when you can be more honest, what part of your life (sick or evil-afflicted) would you bring to Jesus for healing. If the whole town is lining up that will include you. So, what needs caring for in your life these days? Have you been willing to take that pain to Jesus or Jesus' current presence of the Church? If not, what has kept you away?

We are still on the road to perfection. A part of the implication of this is that we are standing in need of prayer and healing as well as standing ready to offer prayer and healing. To recognize our woundedness actually makes us better in binding up the wounds of others.

I don't see the disciples as a cordon within which others are funneled to Jesus, but as encouragers all mixed in with the crowd and moving with them toward Jesus. The disciples can be patient because they know Jesus will get to them and their ill. They can be bolster others with stories of their past experiences with Jesus and their increasing hope of participating in the coming of heaven on earth. They become the leaven that turns a potential riot to get my needs met first because there is only a limited amount of healing available into a conversational walk together anticipating a vast bounty of healing, enough for all.