More Than Meets The Eye
February 3, 2018
Verse: Mark 1:29–1:34
Christ Lutheran Church
February 4, 2018
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
More Than Meets The Eye
And at once, exiting the synagogue, he came to the house of Simon and Andrew, along with James and John. Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he went in to her, *took her hand and resurrected her*. And the fever left her at once, and she began to serve them. That evening, when the sun went down, they brought him all who were sick, and demonized and the whole city was *synagogued* at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and banished many demons, and he forbad the demons from speaking, because they knew him. Mk 1:29-34
As often as we hear St. Mark’s Gospel, we should know that there is more to it than meets the eye. It is not simply a biography of Jesus, or compilation of religious information. But there is an internal logic to it, one that we don’t always see, because we are not trained to see it. But, also because one would have to know the original Greek to spot it.
In St. Mark’s Gospel the real story begins with the Lord’s baptism, which is unlike any other, and everything that happens subsequently proceeds from it.
While all men need to be baptized for “repentance and the forgiveness of sins,” our Lord had no sin and so was not baptized for that reason. But he submitted to baptism because that is where men encounter the Holy Spirit of God. And what an encounter it was.
As the Holy Spirit “hovered” over the chaotic waters of Creation, and gave them order; even so he met Jesus in the water, where the heavens were torn open, and he descended upon him in the form of a Dove, and filled this Man Christ Jesus, with power to defeat every stronghold of the devil, and every blight that troubles us in this sin-stained world.
It is by this power that Jesus now exits, or in the Greek “resurrects” (Greek: anabaino) from the water, and is immediately cast out into the wilderness by the Spirit: to do battle with Satan for 40 days and 40 nights. A battle from which our Lord emerges victoriously!
His next official act per St. Mark is to call disciples out of the (chaotic) waters where they lived and worked as fishermen, and to make them fisher’s of men; who by their ministry would rescue others from chaos, and bring them into the good order of divine liturgy. We are those others.
Next we find Jesus at the Synagogue where he does battle with a demon who has taken up residence in the life of a man. The Lord expelled him, and forbad him ever to speak again. He will do the same for you! And so come to the altar today where he will fill you with himself, and leave no room for the demons that haunt your body, soul, your thoughts, words and deeds!
Upon leaving the Synagogue we follow the Lord to the home of Peter and Andrew, where Peter’s mother-in-law lies sick with a fever. Again we find special resurrection language here that is observable only in the Greek: “Jesus took her by the hand and *resurrected her*.” (anesti) That is to say he imparted the power of his death and resurrection to her; and in the process makes her well! No fever. No pain! No lingering, or lethargy! He touches her, and she lives, because illness, like the demons that haunt us, is also a manifestation of sin.
But Jesus is come to eradicate sin, and thus disease. That is why the church prays in the name and the power of Jesus for all who are sick. Prayers which our Lord hears and answers. And so bring the names of those who are sick to the church, whatever their disease might be, so that they may be included in the Prayers of the Faithful, offered at the Lord’s altar every Sunday without fail!
Peter’s mother in law not only lives, but rises up immediately and begins to serve the Gospel. But here, too, there is more than meets the eye.
Simon’s mother in law was real enough. But in St. Mark’s gospel we should understand her as something more. As a type of the church, restored from the burning fever of sin by baptism, now resurrected so that she might continue the Lord’s ministry, in his name, and in his power. So that she might heal others from the fever of sinful desire with the cooling waters of baptism, with Christian instruction (which no one hearing this sermon is beyond) which prepares people to come to the altar, where the love of Christ for his baptismally-cleansed Bride, is consummated! Where demons and disease are dispelled and we are filled with the love and the Light of Christ.
But why does St. Mark pepper his Gospel with such symbolic language? Because he is not only writing about the historical Jesus. The one who once was born into the world, suffered, died, rose again and ascended into heaven for us.
But he writes about the resurrected and glorified Christ, present among us in the Word and Sacraments! Jesus who says: Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” and means it. (Mt. 28:20). Jesus who says, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you,” and means it. (Hebrews 13:7).
Jesus who is vocally, as well as bodily present, with us today, as this Gospel is read aloud. And so let us hear it with wonder, awe, faith, and humility for by it, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. (Romans 5:5).
And let us hear it with self-control! Lest we should run our course in vain, as St. Paul admonishes in today’s epistle: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)