Running With Mark 8

Day Eight – January 5, 2020

Read: Sunday, Mark 1:21-45, Jesus’ Ministry Begun

Visual Liturgy:

Mark 1:21 – Casting Out Evil Spirits


In Mark’s gospel things move quickly. We are still in the first chapter and already Jesus is teaching and performing miracles. Already we see large crowds of people surrounding Jesus, wanting to hear from him.  Gospel writers sometimes used hyperbole to make their point as in Mark 1:33 where it says the whole town gathered at the door.  It may not have been the whole town, but Mark is clearly letting us know that this wasn’t just a handful of people wanting to hear from this Jewish Rabbi from Nazareth.


In this passage there are few interesting things to notice. 

  • One of Mark’s theme is the identity of Jesus. The people don’t yet understand who he is, but the impure spirit in the man at the synagogue says, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God!”.  
  • A second theme in Mark is Jesus controlling the message of who he is. More than once you will hear him say to someone who has grasped the fullness of who he is, “Be quiet.”  Verse 34 says, “..and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.”
  • A third theme in Mark is the importance of Jesus’ time for solitude and prayer. Pay attention as we read through the gospel for the times and places where Jesus makes time and space to pray.
  • We can presume that both men and women were following Jesus, but no woman is specifically mentioned until the healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Feminist theologians are not of one mind about verse 31 saying, “Then the fever left her and she began to serve them.” Some read this service to mean that she becomes a disciple, perhaps even forming a house church in her home. Other scholars think that “serve” means that she reverted to the patriarchal role of women in that society.
  • In Mark 1:40-45, Mark tells of the healing of a man with leprosy. Leprosy may have been what today is known as Hansen’s Disease, or it may have been any number of skin conditions.  There was a great fear of skin diseases that led people to be socially, spiritually and relationally isolated from others.  When they saw someone approaching, they were to shout out, “Unclean! Unclean!”.  They were not permitted to work, or to attend religious services.  They often resorted to begging.


Note that the man with leprosy comes to Jesus in faith, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus replies, “I am willing.  Be clean!”  Mark 1: 40-41 (New International Version) I find the New Revised Standard Version to be more dynamic, “If you choose, you can make me clean.”  Jesus says, “I do choose. Be made clean.” 


Notice in verse 42 the word immediately once again, this time to signal the immediacy with which the man was made “clean”.  Not only would he now be physically well, he would also be restored to community.


I believe God always chooses for us to be made whole.  In Hebrew the word for wholeness is Shalom.  The word is also translated as peace.   Wholeness to me, means experiencing the unconditional love of God that restores, redeems and renews us emotionally, relationally and spiritually.  It may or not mean restores us to physical health.  Over my years in ministry I can say, with true humility, that some of the most “whole” people I have ever known, were people who were very ill or approaching death.  Sometimes the greatest gift of wholeness or healing God gives, is when we are set free from a body that is no longer able to sustain life.


A few questions to ponder:

  • What does it mean to you that Jesus “chooses”? Chooses what? Whom? When? How?
  • What was it about Jesus that compelled people to seek him out?


Music: Kanye West has recently undergone a conversion experience.  I’ve been curious to learn more about what this change means for him.  One of the things he has done is to create worship experiences.  This track, “Jesus Walks” features a cool gospel choir and some rapping by Kanye.    I’ll post some on the blog from time to time.

Sunday Service Choir sings “Jesus Walks”


Prayer Focus:

Spend some time with God talking about and listening for what it means to be whole.  Where are the places in your life that need healing and wholeness?


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins