Day 121 – The Demon, the Mother-in-Law and the Leper

Today’s reading: Mk 1:29-45

Three interesting vignettes are in today’s reading (the second half of Mark, chapter1).  First, we see Jesus drive out some demons.  There are some interesting details to note.

And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching.

First, notice that this happens in Capernaum.  Remember from the Gospel of Matthew that Capernaum had become Jesus base of operations.  Notice also, that this takes place in the Synagogue on the Sabbath.  It is early in Jesus’ ministry and it does not raise alarm or protest from the authorities.  It is later as Jesus’ popularity and fame grow that His opponents will raise healing on the Sabbath as a grounds to oppose Jesus.

And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are— the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

Again, this appears to be early in Jesus’ ministry but the demons recognize who Jesus is and His authority.  This is Mark’s way of establishing the truth about Jesus from the outset of the Gospel.   Notice, also that we are told that Jesus’ fame immediately begins to spread around the surrounding region.

In the next verse, notice how Mark moves the action along, employing one of his many uses of the word “immediately”.

And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother- in- law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

Many people assume that they go to Peter’s house (who at this point is still named Simon) but in fact the text says it is the house of Peter AND Andrew.  We also see the Peter has a mother-in-law but there is no mention of his wife.  Thus, these two facts suggest and tradition holds that by this point Peter’s wife had died.

Notice what happens next:

That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

We are told that the sick are brought to Jesus at sundown.  This detail is meant to convey that the Sabbath has ended and it is now Sunday.  This is why the people can come out of their homes and do the work of bringing the sick to Jesus.  The way these details are conveyed is a hallmark of the thought process of an ancient Jew, helping to identify the author as Peter through Mark.

Tomorrow: Mk 2: 1-17

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