Mark 1:29-45

Readings for this week February 25 – March 1
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Day 1 – A Day in the Life

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 1:29-34

Today we read of a day in the life of Jesus, and we can assume that it was typical of many days that he would have had throughout the active period of his ministry. He spent some time at someone’s house – in this case the home of two of his disciples, Andrew and Simon. He healed someone – Simon’s mother-in-law – and no doubt also spent some time talking and teaching, instructing his disciples (and anyone else who was there) in the ways of the kingdom of God. Word, sign and deed – the ways through which the kingdom spreads.

And a fairly typical day in the life of Jesus would not have been limited to the daylight hours only. Many of the times when he enjoyed the hospitality offered by someone were at night; Nicodemus sought him out in the hours of darkness; and in this passage it was not until after sunset that the crowds arrived at Simon’s and Andrew’s house, bringing along all those in need of healing and deliverance. This day was the Sabbath (see 1:21) which lasted from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, and the Jewish leaders had declared that to be healed on the Sabbath was to break the law – something that Jesus would have something to say about later on. Likewise, travelling on the Sabbath was also prohibited, hence the people’s arrival after the sun had gone down. It would have been a long, crowded day, full of people and problems – and completely typical of so many of Jesus’ days.

Questions to Consider
How is a fairly typical day in your life a day in which the kingdom is proclaimed and lives changed? How could it be?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, help me see the ordinary days and moments of my life as opportunities for the extraordinary presence of your kingdom to reveal itself to those around me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – A Quiet Time and Place

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 1:35

After a day like yesterday it is perhaps not surprising that Jesus may have been a little peopled out. He, like most of us, needed some time alone, a solitary space of his own, to ease his body’s tension, to regather himself and, most importantly, to listen to the quiet, loving voice of his Father. A successful day of teaching and healing would not just repeat itself on its own, no effort required. Jesus needed to reconnect with God in order to reaffirm his sense of God-given direction, and to give him the strength needed in order to fulfil his Father’s work.

The gospels give us a view of both the public Jesus and the private Jesus. The public Jesus was active amongst the people, teaching, healing, performing the signs and deeds of the kingdom. He was followed and acclaimed or decried wherever he went, celebrated as a great prophet or condemned as a blasphemer, creating both community and controversy. The private Jesus took time away by himself to reenergise and to reconnect with God. Everything that Jesus accomplished was due to his total dependence upon his heavenly Father.  His habits of prayer and worship were the well-spring of his relationship with God and the source of the power and authority by which he spoke and acted. Time in prayer helped Jesus discern what to do and what to say, when to speak out, when to act, when to boldly proclaim the kingdom and exhort others to do the same, and when to act more circumspectly.

Questions to Consider
How important is taking time out to embrace solitude and to embrace God? What happens without such times?

Prayer
Lord God, in order to hear your still, quiet voice I need to seek out those still, quiet times and places where all else fades away, leaving just you and me. Help me seek these moments more and more. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – “For This I Have Come”

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 1:36-39

We are still quite early in the relationship between Jesus and his disciples. It seems as if the disciples aren’t entirely sure where Jesus had got to, so much so that they had to go looking for him. Later on, as they spent more time with him, they would begin to understand that whenever they couldn’t find him, he was most often to be found in solitary prayer and communion with his Father. When they did find him, perhaps they assumed that Jesus would have been very pleased with the results of yesterday’s preaching and healing and would want to stay and repeat what he had done. Everyone was looking for him, they reported, so obviously Jesus had made a big impression. Surely he’d want to stay with the people he had so clearly impressed the day before?

But the emphasis for Jesus was on the preaching and proclamation of the kingdom. Popularity was not the point. Being famous and basking in the glory of people’s adulation was not his aim. He was there to preach the gospel and to proclaim the kingdom to all people, through word, sign and deed. “That is why I have come” (verse 38, NIV): the focus of his mission was sharing the good news of the kingdom with everyone. However amazing and glorious the miraculous healings may be, that was never the emphasis. These signs too, were pointers to the kingdom, the kingdom that Jesus was determined to share with everyone.

Question to Consider
How are we tempted to remain in easy, comfortable places rather than moving where God is calling us next?

Prayer
Lord God, may we remember the reason we are here, the task you have called us for. May whatever success we see spur us on to share the good news with others, for their sake and for the same of the kingdom. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Man of Sorrows

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 1:40-42

There were times when Jesus showed deep emotion. In this instance, he was deeply moved by the man with leprosy. In the most famous example, Jesus burst into tears when taken to the tomb of his close friend Lazarus. Often these examples of deep emotion are offered as evidence that Jesus was a real human being. Now, this is true, he definitely was. But there’s much more to be said about these moments. After all, everyone around Jesus already thought he was a normal human being, so shows of emotion like this would have been expected and not out of the ordinary.

But Jesus is not just flesh and blood, he is the Word made flesh, God incarnate. All things were made through him, and yet he can still be deeply moved by the plight of a man afflicted with leprosy, he can still break down at his friend’s graveside. God cries when the world cries – that is part of the definition of who God is. Jesus truly is the man of sorrows that Isaiah 53 talks about, the one who is familiar with our grief and our pain and our hurt, who shares in it with us, and who bears these sorrows to the point of tears – and, ultimately, beyond. But this story doesn’t end with Jesus being deeply moved; the Lazarus story doesn’t end with tears. The leper is healed and restored; Lazarus is raised from the dead. The day is dark, and pain and grief may seem be all-consuming. But there is light and hope available for all, no matter their circumstances. The Word made flesh brings light, healing and restoration. He is intimately acquainted with our pain, and infinitely able to heal it.

Question to Consider
What is your response to these displays of emotion from Jesus?

Prayer
Loving Father, I thank you for not being aloof from our pain, but for meeting us in it, walking through it with us, and offering the hope of a future where all is redeemed and restored. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – A Way Back to Community

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 1:43-45

Similar to the incident when Jesus commanded the demons to silence, why would Jesus have very sternly warned the man not to tell anyone about what had happened? The reason involves what Jesus told the man to do. Leprosy – a blanket term for a host of skin diseases – was believed to be highly infectious, so those with the disease were ostracised and forced to live away from inhabited areas. If one of them walked back to town claiming to have been healed people would naturally become suspicious, as the healing would not necessarily be obvious or easy to see – unlike if a crippled person was suddenly walking. So Jesus told this man to go through the official system: go to the priests who would check him out and verify that he had been healed, and when next in Jerusalem, make the appropriate sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Doing all this would not have made the man clean. But it would have allowed him to be seen to be clean. Following the ritually ordained procedures around the remission of uncleanliness would have allowed the man to be seen thanking God officially for the cure and getting publicly checked out by the religious leaders. The official clean bill of health they would have given him would allow people to know he had been healed, and thus that he could be welcomed back into the normal flow of a society that had until very recently been shunning him.  Jesus healed him, and then showed him the road to walk in order to re-join the community.

Question to Consider
How are you helping the shunned and marginalised find their way back into community?

Prayer
Almighty Father, may I be an agent of reconciliation and restoration in your world, seeking the lost and abandoned and walking alongside them back to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)