The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany (B)
“All Who Are Sick and Demon Oppressed”
February 4, 2018
Sermon Text: Mark 1:29-39
Peace be unto you from our revealed Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
One of my favorite television series of all time is MASH. You just cannot get enough of the 4077th with all of their hilarious antics. But what the show was also known for is its attempt to vividly portray and depict the horrors of war and the casualties they produce. I thought they did a pretty good job of that.
In how many episodes did we see the surgical teams working non-stop for hours upon hours? All the wounded. There was actually a lot of reality behind this fictitious show. In my previous career in hospital administration, quite a few times, I saw doctors and nurses in mass casualty situations tirelessly attempting to help those in need… those who were hurting… those who were dying. They just kept on working.
A sad fact of sin entering the world is that there will never be a shortage of people who are hurting, people who are in pain and misery, people who are afflicted with various diseases and illnesses… people who are dying.
I am sure that just cheered everyone up! But there is good news to be had… in fact, the best of news that we will get to in just a moment.
One can only imagine the lines of people, the crowd that had gathered at the home of Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, there at Capernaum. All of this comes on the heels of what we discussed last week regarding what happened in the synagogue where our Lord was teaching and His healing of a man with an unclean spirit.
Our Lord leaves the synagogue, goes to the home of His disciples and proceeds to heal Simon Peter’s mother-in-law who was ill with a fever.
You heard what that evening brought. Mark puts it that “the whole city was gathered together at the door.” (Mark 1:33) They were there to be healed. They came for help… for relief… and this from various diseases as well as demons. Like MASH, the casualties just kept on coming and there appeared to be no end… no end in sight to the sick and the oppressed.
You know what happens next. How our Lord after spending untold hours healing men, women and children, gets up early, while it is still dark, and goes to a desolate place to be alone with the Father, His Father, our Father in prayer.
He doesn’t say to Simon, Andrew, James and John, “Hey, just so you know, I am sleeping in tomorrow.” Which no one would have argued. After all, our Lord, being true Man, knew physical exhaustion. He knew what being “tired” was all about. No. The disciples saw all that Jesus did… how He gave time and attention, His love, His care to each and every person who came to Him that evening… in that place.
Yes, Jesus knew about being exhausted, drained… emptied… but my friends, our Lord and Master also knew about the importance of time alone in prayer… time alone with our Heavenly Father. Think about it, if this was considered essential by the only begotten Son of God, then how much more should it be by God’s baptized children? That would be you… and me.
Even there… in that desolate place where He had gone… Jesus is found. He is sought after, yes, by Simon Peter and the other disciples, but in reality… by all… all who know of His healing power. Simon said to Him, “Everyone is looking for you.” (Mark 1:37)
The sick and demon oppressed. That includes you and me whether we know it or not, want to admit it or not. It includes every man, woman and child on the face of this earth. We all need help. We all have our own issues related to mind, body and soul. We all have life issues… issues with life, in life, with life… our lives. Life comes with issues.
No one is exempt. No one is completely “healthy”… not in these, our earthly bodies, which begin to decay from the moment of birth. Not with souls that are going to be troubled from birth because you know what? We all have our demons… not being oppressed and afflicted by them in all the same way, but oppressed and afflicted nonetheless. Because that is what demons do… what they are allowed to do for this short time, these last days, before the Judgement… before Christ comes again in glory.
That morning, Simon Peter and the others searched for their Master, found Him and then asked Him to come back to the city, back to Capernaum and to the people there. But look what the Lord says, “Let us go on to the next towns” and to the next… and to the next “that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” (Mark 1:38)
My friends, we live in a world, in a society and a culture that can put a negative spin so fast on that which is good, right and salutary… that which is holy and right. Boy, have we seen that of late! It would be easy to say and surmise that our Lord didn’t care about the people of Capernaum… that in leaving them, He was abandoning them. That Jesus was being cruel and His actions heartless.
In actuality, such findings and sentiments expressed are due to this world, our society and culture being spiritually blind… completely blind to the truth… to the reality that our Lord leaving Capernaum and going on to the other towns and cities was the best thing for the people there and everywhere… then and now… for all people throughout time. It was the best for you and for me!
The teaching needed to continue… the proclaiming of the Gospel news to others… to all. The healing needed to continue… to others… to all. But what our Lord was doing… that which was His divine mission… His whole reason for coming to earth… for taking on human flesh… for taking on the form of a servant… was to bring about complete healing… bring about complete wholeness and holiness… that which alone could be accomplished by our Lord’s moving on… continuing on, yes, from Capernaum and all of the other towns and cities… to the cross.
You see, the people our Lord healed here on earth of certain diseases, could have easily developed others. Those He brought back from the dead would eventually die. Those He fed miraculously would hunger again. Those possessed by demons, could again be possessed. For sin and its effects… its control on all mankind still reigned.
But that ended… all ended… on the cross – the reign of sin… the reign of terror… the reign of Satan… the reign of death. Their control, their grasp ended there and then. They were finished as our Lord with His very last breaths declared, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)
Christ had to go… from Capernaum… for all who are sick and demon oppressed… for you and me. In Him, we have the victory over what, for yet a little while in these mortal bodies, afflicts us. Jesus is our balm and healing. He and He alone. He who calls us, invites us, saying, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Here… right here and now… our Savior gives us His balm and healing and this in His Holy Word and the Blessed Sacraments.
Here… He makes us whole… and holy… and continues to do so until we enter our eternal rest… until we enter heaven where the ravages of sin and Satan are no more because they are no more.
See! I told you there was good news to come. The best of news! And this, in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“All Who are Sick and Demon Oppressed” 2/4/18 The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL