While in God's Grip!
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
~ Mark 1:29 - 39
Jesus just meets Peter and Andrew, and he already has the fishermen, James and John with him. They have spent time in church together, and now they are hanging out at Peter's place. His mother-in-law has a fever and simply isn't feeling well. They tell Jesus of her illness and he goes and heals her. Immediately the men go out into the community and begin telling of Jesus and his abilities and the house overfills with people with a variety of issues, including demons!
Can you imagine what Peter's mother-in-law must have seen when she walked out of the bedroom after having been ill? Her house is full of people, including the demon possessed, in her living room! It reminds me of the commercial years ago of the mom who gets the proper medication and begins feeling better only to walk out into the family room and find a complete disaster because her husband and kids had cooked on their own, and hadn't picked up after themselves. The actress playing the mom looks like she has just witnessed a disaster as she walks in. I get a sense that Peter's mother-in-law may have seen something similar.
The next morning before anyone wakes up, Jesus leaves the house and finds a quiet place to pray.
I can't even begin to imagine how Jesus must be feeling. He is doing what he was sent to earth to do, but I have to remember that part of Jesus is human. The events the day before surely has left him tired. While we don't know how many people he saw the day before, I have a feeling it was many.
The men come looking for him. They are still excited from the previous day, and are a little concerned when they wake up and find that he is not there. Jesus is their new friend, and he is amazing! Think about what it is about your best friend that makes you want to spend time with that person, then raise that level by ten!
I think Jesus realizes that Peter's mother-in-law needs a break and so they begin traveling the countryside seeking others and spread the news of what Jesus is doing. He also realizes that the plan for his life isn't about this one community.
One thing that I always point out to others is that Jesus didn't return to the house and set up a place with four walls and a steeple. No, he went out to the people. For him and his followers it was about reaching as many people as possible to share the news of Jesus and what God was doing among God's people.
It's our reminder today that we are to be sharing the news of Christ with others. Not just by word, but by our actions as well. And not just in church on Sunday but through each day.
The other reminder is that sometimes we need a deserted place to be quiet with God. In a world full of signals and people asking, "Can you hear me now?" God has a need to be heard as well.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear Lord, Your presence in my life helps to guide me each day. Help me to find you in quiet and busy places. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.