Gospel: Mark 1:29-39
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Lesson: Job 7:1-7
Psalm: Psalm 147:1-13
CLB Commentary on the Gospel Text by Rev. Omar Gjerness
(originally published in 2012)
The main thrust of this text has to do with healing and casting out demons. As is true in every text, there are many ways to approach a text. You can approach it from the standpoint of Jesus as a healer, an exorcist, and a preacher. Or Christ the deliverer. You can approach it from the standpoint of the arenas of service. The home (Peter and John) Capernaum, Israel and the World You can approach it from the standpoint that after this ministry that must have been exhausting, Jesus went into a rest rest retreat.
If you choose to speak about healing, there are areas you should look into. First. Take note of the giant share of prayer requests come to you from church and synod that relate to illness. This shows several things. It shows that Christians also are not free of problems. There are those who believe that if you are ill or have an accident it is because you are lacking in faith. Or if you have faith enough you will always be healed.
Years ago someone asked professor M.E. Sletta if he believed in divine healing. Rev. Sletta said, “Yes.” He then said, “You believe then that God will always heal anyone who prays and has faith?” And Sletta said, “That is not what you asked.” The man said he regretted that one of our Seminary professors took this position, and Sletta said, “No, I think it is God’s will to let us die and go to heaven when it is His time.” He said if your position was right, how could a person die unless he died in unbelief?”
And if you deal with divine healing, you should also deal with the many times God says “no.” In some instances He is glorified in people in adversity. Note Corrie Tenboom. Note Johni Towandah. Great ministry has come out of their trials. All healing is temporary. The ultimate healing is death itself. There is no sickness beyond the grave. It would help to show many instances of divine healing in the New Testament, but you could also show the opposite. Paul praying to be released from his “thorn in the flesh.”
The very fact that we have prayer lists in church and synod indicate a belief in intercessional prayer, but don’t presume to tell God how he should answer. You might find incidents where such intercession worked in great ways. One illustration from our Synod, is the fact that Zam-Zam’s school was recognized as an independent school even though they have not finished the building. No longer any government control.
If you deal at any length with casting out demons, note some things. Demonism is not nearly as common in America as it is in many pagan lands. In the darkness, Satan walks in light. In the light he walks in darkness. Where Secularism is as strong as it is in America, a common demonism would gainsay the denial of a spiritual world. Where Christianity is strong demon possession is rare. But it is becoming more common here in the U.S. On safari in Africa, guides would build a fire to keep the animals away but toward the morning when the embers had died down “you could see encircling eyes.” You also should deal with the fact that Jesus told the healed person not to tell about it. The reason is “if they had known who he was, they would not have crucified the Son of Glory.” Pastor David Foss used an illustration before Christmas regarding the angels at Jesus’ birth. There is a spiritual world and a physical world, and there is a veil between. There are times and places when this veil is thin and gets penetrated. The Bible shows this in many places. The shepherd’s field is one of them.
In regard to the 2nd approach I suggested, note that the sick and demented were coming to Jesus. Jesus directed his path on a preaching mission. The gospel to the soul is more important than healing to the body. It impacts eternity. This body shall fail. The soul continues. And the central part of the Christian faith is not miracles, healing or alms. What is central is the cross and salvation. He came not only to proclaim, but to perform the act on which the message is built.
If you approach from areas of service, you start with the home. The influence of Godly home is very much a subject that can be expanded. Then the town. What influence did the witness of Peter and John have in the town? The principle. Begin in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts. Let us not forget America in our mission outreach.
The last suggestion I made deals with “burn out” We all need a time for rest, even from God’s labor. And that goes especially to you pastors.
May the Holy Spirit open these verses to your mind and heart. Omar Gjerness