Jesus heals many

This is written by Alex Perkin who was once an extra in Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince. He was cast member 116 and, though his face didn't make the director's cut, he's somewhere amidst the crowd robed in Gryffindor attire.

Mark 1:29-45

Jesus heals many
29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon-s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all who were ill and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

Jesus prays in a solitary place
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: 'Everyone is looking for you!'

38 Jesus replied, 'Let us go somewhere else - to the nearby villages - so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come.' 39 So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

Jesus heals a man with leprosy
40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, 'If you are willing, you can make me clean.'

41 Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' 42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44 'See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.' 45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

Reflection

It's easy to forget how fortunate we are to have modern medicine. The medicinal practices of the ancient world would have been far removed from the off-the-shelf prescriptions of antibiotics and paracetamol we have today. Sickness and poor healthcare had serious implications for people's lives and put a strain on families' livelihoods. It was also Jewish law that those with a disease or skin condition, like leprosy, were "unclean" in the eyes of God (Lev. 13) and rendered a social outcast (Lev. 13:46) until a priest made them acceptable once again through "ceremonial cleansing" (Lev. 14).

In this context Jesus does something radical. He "healed many who had various diseases" and "touched the man" with leprosy. This is radical for two reasons. First, those with physical conditions were healed. If you've read this before it's easy to glaze over, but these people were actually healed giving them a new lease of life. Healing is a sign that the kingdom of God has come (v15) and the mind blowing physical transformation reflects the nature of God who is in the business of whole life transformation. Second, Jesus – "filled with compassion" (v41) – identifies with the marginalised in society. The first healing recorded in Mark's gospel is of a woman (v30-31) suggesting the importance Jesus places on honouring not only women but those of low social status (which women had little of at that time). What's more the leper's healing made him clean (v42-44) meaning he would no longer be socially excluded. His healing pointed to the fact that Jesus is God, because only God can cleanse and heal, and that all, even the marginalised in society, are included in God's kingdom.
 
Pray
Thank God for his power to transform lives.
Ask God to fill you with compassion for the marginalised.

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