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Sunday 4 February 2024 Epiphany 5, Fifth in Ordinary time

A day in the life

Mark 1:29-39

By Trevor Hutton

Lecturer, Nazarene Theological College (Manchester); pastor to a new congregation in Stoke-on-Trent; Director of Forge England and Wales

Context: a regular Sunday morning congregation comprising believers and explorers, using storytelling to engage a spectrum of ages

Aim: to live daily missional lives

Recently I found myself glancing through a book written by Mike Barfield entitled A Day in the Life. Its purpose is to offer a treasure trove of entertaining stories of unusual things that can be discovered in everyday life to the surprise and joy of curious readers. Likewise in our passage today, Mark recalls stories of a day in the life of Jesus that are written to help us discover something of the mystery of Jesus Messiah as his ‘fame’ spreads and our curiosity grows (Mark 1:27-28).

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JESUS: THE LATE EVENING

Following his baptism, the calling of his first disciples and a healing in the synagogue in Capernaum (1:1-28), Jesus’ itinerary continues with a visit to the home of Andrew and Simon whose mother-in-law was in bed with a fever. With typical brevity Mark tells the facts of the story. Jesus ‘went to her’ (verse 31a), ‘took her by the hand and helped her’ (verse 31b), she was healed (verse 31c) and began to serve them (verse 31d). Four loving actions are noted that provide us with a basis of ministry. First, the need to GO to where sick, troubled, and isolated people are found. Second, the importance and power of TOUCH in showing empathy, compassion, and identification with those suffering. Jesus takes the woman by the hand in a demonstration of compassion. Third, he HELPs her up. Clearly this is a physical necessity as she literally finds her feet again, but symbolically it captures a desire to support, encourage and strengthen others that are weak. The ‘helping hand’ indicates a willingness to practically come alongside those in need. Fourth, she was willing to SERVE others (verse 31), presumably as an act of hospitality and an expression of her own gratitude. Service to others is core to a Jesus-centred life (Mark 10:45).

 

The compassion that Jesus demonstrated to Simon’s mother-in-law is now extended to the crowd that has suddenly assembled at the door after sunset as word of his ministry spreads. It seems the whole town has come (verse 33) and among them are the sick and people spiritually bound and oppressed (verse 32). But Jesus heals them, bringing freedom and health. Holistic ministry is the hallmark of Jesus.

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JESUS: THE EARLY MORNING

Very early in the morning, Jesus leaves the house and goes to a quiet place to pray (verse 35, cf. 6:46, 14:32-39). Amid a whirlwind of activity, the much-needed quiet space provides solitude for the heart and soul of Jesus as he communes with his Father. Jesus cannot extend himself outward in compassion without first attending to the source of his mission. Prayer further serves as the bridge and transition between his Capernaum ministry and his expanded Galilean itinerary. The solitude however is interrupted abruptly by Simon and his companions who pursue him (verse 37a). They inform Jesus that everyone is looking for him (verse 37b), perhaps with the expectation that he would remain in Capernaum. But having spent time in prayer Jesus has other plans! Amid the clamour of noise, and the busy demands of life, we too need to be still, to pray, and discern the voice of the Spirit as we reflect, recharge, and change direction when prompted.

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JESUS: THE REST OF THE DAY

Arising from prayer, Jesus makes known his plans. As he needed to visit Simon’s house, and responded to the crowd in Capernaum, he must now go to other towns and villages in Galilee, for they too need to hear the gospel. Jesus therefore leaves Capernaum and begins his itinerary throughout Galilee (verse 39), preaching and healing, announcing and demonstrating the good news of the kingdom. He always goes ahead of the disciples; and his followers, then and now, need to trust him in faith and join him in his ongoing mission to the world.

 

CONCLUSION

A day in our lives may not look as adventurous as this day in the life of Jesus! However, we are all called daily to participate in his mission wherever we are found, and in whatever we do. Therefore, may we GO, TOUCH, HELP, and SERVE, centred in Christ, grounded in prayer, relying on God’s power, and guided by his Spirit. In following the One that goes ahead of us we too can rest assured that he always accompanies us on the way.

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