Get the message straight. Get the message out. These were the very wise words of the sainted Rev. Al Barry. Epiphany is a time to get the Christmas message “straight” – who is this Jesus and why is He here. It is also a season focused on getting the message out for God’s grace and mercy are to be found in the home, when you are alone, and for every single one in this world.
29And immediately [Jesus] left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
Following the uproar of the service Jesus, James and John had been invited to eat the evening meal at the house of Peter and Andrew, a child’s stone throw from the front doors of the synagogue. The Jews customarily ate a festive meal to celebrate the Sabbath. It was a time for rejoicing and for prayer. For fathers to bless their families and for all to remember and be thankful for the Lord’s many blessings. It was feasted with the best the family could afford, and it was the opportunity to show hospitality and blessing to others. So, as the buzzing of the wondering crowds spreads throughout the town, the small band enters the quiet of Simon Peter’s home, but all is not right. Things are too quiet. Peter’s mother-in-law lays sick in bed with a terrible fever.
The kindness and blessing extended to Jesus, is now returned in astonishing fashion. With great humanity Jesus grasps her by the hand. With great divinity and another clear and definitive Word He brings the fever to an end. Notice the amazing and sudden end to the poor woman’s sickness. Usually recovery involves a period of weakness and tiredness, but not here! Jesus has full authority to fix all that is broken in mind, spirit or body. The healing is immediate and complete. In pure joy and thanksgiving she gladly began serving the gathered guests and family. It is a family gathering none would soon forget.
The family home and table have always been the foundation of God’s love and kindness in action. It is the most basic and foundational seat of society, charity, teaching, prayer and celebration. It is what He would have for your home and table too … no matter the outward circumstances, if Jesus is present God’s blessings and favour are always there even in the grief and suffering, even in the want and loss. But Jesus’ Home was bigger than just a single house. It involved the whole community too. As does our own.
32That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34And 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.
The miracle of driving out the demon (verses 23-28) had caused a great stir in Capernaum. Perhaps by this time the people had also heard about Jesus’ healing Peter’s mother-in-law. Jesus’ teaching and actions advertised a product that everyone wanted! Who doesn’t desire healing and wholeness? The city in its entirety gathered at the door of the house of Peter. Mark alone reports this. Parents, children, husbands, wives, brought, led, and carried their beloved sick. It is a peaceful scene of faith and hope. But it is also a scene of suffering humanity. “Many” does not exclude some who came it simply paints the picture of the great numbers that flocked to Him. It must have been a magnificent sight as Jesus did for His new home town as He had just done for Peter’s home ad family.
Christians being involved in their communities has also always been foundational to how God shares His blessings in this world. Giving time and energy volunteering for the less fortunate and speaking up on the issues that matter. It is how everyone’s lives are enriched and God’s kingdom turns towns into homes where one and all are cared for.
35And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
But the taks of caring for so much hurt is never easy. Even Jesus needed times of quiet and refreshing. He wanted to be alone. Obviously Jesus prayed about the situation in which He found Himself, their suffering was His too. Evidently He also foreknew that the people wanted Him to stay there. A man who could cure all their diseases and drive out all their demons was very attractive. It was, however, not His purpose to establish a free clinic at Capernaum. Mankind always wants a Messiah of its own making, a divine insurance policy against bad things a heavenly promise for better earthly conditions such as no sickness, better wages, more food, and every other creature comfort one could want.
And that is why we need to find God’s grace in times of peace and solitude. Why we must be open to prayer and the leading of scripture without all those worldly voices and concerns trying to drown them out. God’s blessings are also found when we are alone with our hearts and God’s word. When we give Him the quiet and the time to speak past all the distractions and right down to the heart we so often keep walled up or covered over. Time with family is important, time alone with God is vital.
36And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38And 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.” 39And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
The disciples so impressed and so excited about the “seeking” of all. The people really liked Jesus, they received Him well … their own discipleship was set! All in all it was a very encouraging first day! Only there was one final lesson to learn, and this one would take years to fully grasp. Jesus’ love and mercy go beyond the immediate needs of even the sickest or most suffering. There are deeper wounds to be healed, and a whole world of people in need of God’s love. As much as Jesus loved those people of Capernaum, as much as He valued His time alone with His Father, there was just so much more to do. So many more to meet and touch with the Father’s love. It is not just about our homes and family (as nice and deserving as they are), nor is it about our own need to be alone and recharge. God’s Gospel is for every single one! The Jew and the Gentile, the clean and unclean, the deserving and the worst of the scoundrels. Those who will pull their weight and those who will only ever be a burden to others. Those who are receptive to it and those who are not … Jesus is here for every single one!
With sin Christ has also carried all the consequences of sin. Vicariously He had taken on Himself all the miseries of this life, and through His entire living in the flesh, through His suffering and death He atoned and made satisfaction for what we have broken and deserved. With the healing of the sick and the casting out of the devil, He not only showed Himself as a Prophet, mighty in word and deed, but also as a faithful High Priest, who came to redeem His people from all their sins. Through Christ we are freed and delivered from all fetters of sin, and of the devil, and of hell. And although we still suffer in the flesh, if it is the Lord’s will, yet no suffering of this earth can harm and consume us, and no death can kill us; for we conquer all because of Him Who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Kindness at home is a good start, but it isn’t enough. Private devotion and prayer are important, but not the end goal of our faith. The good news of salvation in Jesus Christ must go out from our homes and our congregation. It must be brought to others for everyone, everywhere needs it. Getting the message straight … and getting the message out … Such is a daunting task, but one for which we will be prepared if we first practice it in our own homes congregation and communities, if we always begin, continue and end in prayer and devotion. And if we remember that Jesus came for every single person you will ever (or never) meet, every person you love, hate or fear. For God’s grace for us in Christ is found at Home, alone, and for everyone!