The news of health, healing and freedom was spreading all over the Galilee. Jesus was healing people and driving out the unclean spirits and this was drawing people to him, so that they could be healed and made clean.
During all this, there is a woman on her death bed in her house when Jesus and his disciples arrived. To be specific, it was Simon Peter’s house and it was his mother-in-law that was in bed with fever. The people who were in the house with her, greeted the new comers and told Jesus about the woman’s situation. He went to her, took her by the hand and lifted her up. The fever left her, and she began to serve those in the house. (Mark 1.29-31)
Now it might be important to point out that this action was the first for four acts that Jesus did for women (of a miraculous nature) in Mark’s Gospel. And this story is a precursor to Jairus and his little daughter later. People seek out Jesus when they’re in trouble; when they are sick and when they’re dying because they want to know that God cares about them as they are going through what it is that they are going through. Whatever else such pursuit of Jesus may or may not be, it becomes prayer. Did you notice? Jesus comes in the door and the people in the house welcome Jesus in and tell him they are relieved he is there because there is a need for him to meet. Someone’s life is at stake. They want and need for Jesus to be more than impressive, they want him to have an impact on this woman’s life for the better so that they do not loose her.
So, what do you do with such high expectations? He went to see and to survey the situation. He went to the woman and he raised her up. The way that it is worded in the New Testament Greek, Mark tells us that Jesus raised her from the dead. It was not just that he got rid of the sickness but that He took her by the hand ad raised her up, not just from the bed but from imminent death. And then what happens? The unthinkable and the unlikely! She begins to serve the people that are in the house. Peter’s mother-in-law served (diakonie) and minister to the needs of others. In effect, Jesus saved this woman to serve, for the sake of the Gospel.
Why is that important? Because of what happened that evening when the Sabbath ended and the people could bring their people – friends, relatives and neighbours - that needed to be healed and cured and exorcised. By caring for the people around her, she was enabling ministry of different kinds to take place, right on her doorstep. No mission statements, no visioning weekends, just real ministry of a sudden and joyful kind. And it is a work that is undergirded by prayer.
Prayer can be as simple as reaching up to touch the heart of God, only to discover that he has reached down and touched yours already. Jesus shows us this in what happens next. He goes out to a solitary place in the wilderness to pray; to spend time with the Father. He went to a place where he knew he could meet the Father best. I like to think that Jesus did it because he wanted to laugh and enjoy what was happening – that the kingdom of God was being established in the lives of men and women; that health, wholeness and salvation were fully coming into this world.
He also sought out the solitude because he knew what was coming in terms of the demands to keep the whole process going – for others. He sought the quiet so that he could remain humble before his Father and hear his Father’s voice as to what was next and what need to be done. Others, including the disciples were hostile to the fact that he left them behind, that they had to go in search of him because they wanted more. So Jesus needed some time to replenish and to rebuild himself for what was ahead.
Where does this leave us?
Well, were to do we meet God best? Answers to that question are going to vary. One place we need to meet him – public worship. We need to meet him, we need to see him amid the community of Christ when we come together to worship. We need to spend time reaching up for the heart of God and discovering that he has already touched our hearts, enabling us to do what needs to be done for the sake of the Gospel. We need to be a part of the acts of power that see another person healed, or freed from sin and evil.
We need to live in the courage of a boy named David who confronted a well trained solider by the name of Goliath, not because he was anything but because he was willing to do what he could, what it took to stand up for the name and glory of God. And anyone who thinks that God cannot use that, has rocks in their heads.
We cannot allow our fear of the future and what we cannot control to paralyze us. The future is not our to possess and the past is gone. All we can do is use the lessons of the past to be prepared for what we have in the present and do what we can, even is al we have is five smooth stones from a brook and a sling shot.
We need to have the dust of our Rabbi on us. We need to follow him where he leads and serve whomever he asks us to serve. We need to be close enough that we get the dust of his footfalls on us. He is the one who heals and he who drives out evil. Jesus is the one who brings the kingdom. We need to come together to celebrate with the rest of creation, not only what he is doing but what he is doing in us.