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Mark 1:29-39 “Meeting Physical and Spiritual Needs”

So Jesus was establishing his kingdom. He’d been baptized, not because he needed to repent, but to fulfill all righteousness and to show that he meant to save by taking our sin upon himself. The Trinity gave its approval of the plan.

Immediately Jesus got to work and went into the wilderness to do battle with Satan. Jesus resisted Satan’s temptations and then started to call his team that would eventually become His Church. Right away he started he started establishing his authority by preaching in the synagogues, casting out demons and healing people.

That’s primarily what we see going on in this section that was just read. Jesus is continuing to establish his authority.

There are two main ways he does this. One is by meeting people’s physical needs and the other is by meeting their spiritual needs.

First of all,

Meeting Physical Needs at Home (vs 29-31)

29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

There was little rest for Jesus, even at home. We’re told Jesus had “nowhere to lay his head” so this was probably as close to “home” as Jesus got.

Earlier, this same day he had preached in the synagogue and cast out a demon. So perhaps he’s headed to Simon and Andrew’s house for some rest, it is the Sabbath after all, but that’s not to be.

Because Simon Peter didn’t waste any time telling him about his sick mother-in-law. Where’s Peter’s wife? We aren’t told so it must not be relevant to the point Mark is trying to make.

What is relevant is what Jesus does.

He takes Peter’s mother-in-law by the hand lifts her up and she is completely well. He meets her physical need.

Her need isn’t life threatening but it did prevent her from serving. And as soon as she’s made well that’s what she starts doing.

What a beautiful response healing serving is. Isn’t that why Jesus heals us? Does he restore us to health so we can be selfish? No, he gives us health so we can serve others.

Ephesians 2:10

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We haven’t been made new in Christ Jesus so we can sit around and bask in our salvation. We’ve been healed so we can serve others.

And this includes physical healing. Doctors, nurses, mothers, fathers, all who attend to the physical needs of others are serving like Christ served. May all of Jesus’ disciples be found taking every opportunity to serve.

So Jesus is meeting people’s physical needs at home.

How can we meet people’s physical needs at home? It isn’t complicated. Often it means just being present. People, when they are sick, don’t usually want to be alone. They need people near them. They need to know people care. They need to feel human touch. God created our need for others to be a part of the healing process.

Isn’t it interesting that Mark records he took her by the hand and lifted her up? Physical touch is so important.

So Jesus met people’s physical needs at home and…

Meeting Physical Needs in the community (vs 32-34)

32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 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.

It was still the same day and now people from the community were coming to him. They didn’t come during the Sabbath because they believed healing was work. But the misunderstood the purpose of the Sabbath. In the next chapter Jesus told them:

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).

The Sabbath is the perfect time to serve others and Jesus does. But now that the Sabbath is over the crowds start to show up and Jesus continues to meet their physical needs. He heals all kind of diseases and casts out demons.

No questions asked. No background checks. He heals people he doesn’t know. It seems everyone who came was healed.

And notice Jesus isn’t recorded as giving a sermon. There’s no mention of salvation. There’s no call to repentance. Jesus is just healing people.

Why? To establish his authority but it’s also just in his nature to show compassion. Just a few verses later, in verse 41, a leper came to Jesus begging to be healed and said

“If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed” (NASB).

Jesus meets people’s needs because that’s who he is.

Now, some of us have friends who are sick. We’ve prayed for them. Some of us have illnesses and we’ve been praying without any apparent result. If Jesus is filled with compassion and loves to heal why doesn’t he heal us?

Well, simply put, God allows his children to experience trials to increase our faith. If you’re struggling with this issue spend time in the book of James. It’s what it’s all about.

James 1:2-3

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

God loves us so much he doesn’t always heal right away. He knows what we really need and that’s greater faith and trust him and trust him we must.

So Jesus meets the physical needs of those in the community too. And he doesn’t let the demons go off telling everyone about it because they just want to cause him trouble. In other words, Jesus isn’t ready to go to the cross just yet.

But it’s been a long day and Jesus goes to bed.

Meeting Spiritual Needs Everywhere (vs. 35-39)

35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Commentator’s don’t often connect this section with verses 29-34 but I think they’re missing out on something important.

See Jesus had just been meeting the physical needs of people. He went to bed, probably late, and then got up early to pray. Mark seems to emphasize the effort this took with four verbs: rising, departed, went, prayed. It took effort for Jesus to get up and pray.

We aren’t told exactly what he prayed but I it’s probably safe to say that the content of the Lord’s prayer wasn’t far off since this is how he encouraged us to pray.

How’s it start? “Our Father in Heaven hallowed by thy name. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”

So I think it’s safe to say when Jesus got up early to pray, part of his prayer must’ve included praying for the Father’s will to be done. Lord, what do you want me to do next? Where should I go?

Just then the disciples showed up and seemed annoyed. Where’ve you been? There’s a long line of people back at the house waiting to be healed! Everyone’s looking for you!

But Jesus knows the Father’s will and that it includes more than meeting physical needs.

Verse 38 seems to be key in understanding this passage. Jesus says,

“Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

Had he preached in Capernaum? Yes. Had he been meeting people’s physical needs? Yes. And now it was time to move on and do more preaching.

There’s nothing’s wrong with meeting physical needs but Jesus makes a point of saying there was more he came to do. Jesus came from heaven to preach the gospel. It needs to be heard everywhere. Of course, he continued to heal, but the Father’s will was that he do more than that.

Jesus was focused on meeting spiritual needs, too.

By spiritual needs what do I mean? I mean showing people what their greatest spiritual problem is and what the solution is to that problem.

Some say global warming is our biggest problem. Others think it’s terrorism. No, it’s not either one of those. It’s sin and that’s what Jesus preached about.

Consider the sermon Jesus preached on the mount…

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell (Matthew 5:27).

This is typical of the kind of preaching Jesus did. See here’s our problem. We have to stop sinning, we can’t sin, not even with our thoughts or we will end up in hell. Oops. Too late. Now what? See we have a problem.

And this is what Jesus preached but that’s not all. He also pointed to himself as the solution. He said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Remember it’s not enough to just be nice to people meeting their physical needs while ignoring their spiritual needs. It won’t do to ignore a person’s physical needs either. Both are important.

And I don’t want people to get the idea that physical needs are completely separate from spiritual needs. Often they are connected.

For example, think about loneliness. We have a physical need for companionship and when that need isn’t met we can become lonely. But at its core loneliness points to a spiritual problem. We need to be connected with God.

Physical suffering is another example. Why do some people handle it so well while others don’t? Because at the core the difference is spiritual and has to do with our understanding and faith in the gospel.

Conclusion

So people have physical needs and spiritual needs. Often they’re connected and meeting both are important and that’s what Jesus was about. It could be said that’s why he came. And as his disciples, as those who follow him, the same could be said of us. That’s why we’re here.

Mark 1:40-45 “A Leper Cleansed”

Mark 1:21-28 “The Authority of Jesus”