Jesus left the synagogue and went home with Simon and Andrew, bringing James and John along, too. Unlike the religious leaders of his day, who stayed in synagogues and temples, Jesus went to the simple homes of ordinary people. If you lived in that time and place and asked Jesus to come to your home, he would have done so, no matter who you were, how little you’d accomplished, or the mistakes you’d made.
Simon’s mother-in-law was sick, so they told Jesus about her. Jesus went to her room, took her by the hand, lifted her up, and the fever left her. The word about this miraculous healing somehow got out and soon there were many people at the door asking for Jesus. “And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (34). Jesus was the essential worker of his day.
For the past few months, our country has been shut down because of COVID-19 restrictions. As you know, most have stay-at-home orders from their governor. If your business is not essential, then it cannot be in operation. If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, then you must isolate yourself for fourteen days. We have to wear facemasks, abide by social distancing rules, stop going to church, and so forth. We won’t bore you with the rules you already know. But what you might not know is laws like these are nothing new.
For the people of Israel, there were many similar rules. However, their rules differed from ours in three general ways. First, their rules were not temporary, but permanent. Second, their rules did not originate from fallible, elected governors, but from God himself. Third, breaking their laws had much greater consequences, including death. You can learn these laws, if you’re curious, by reading the book of Leviticus. There are 613 laws Israel had to obey, or else. Many of these laws had to do with ritual purity, or what to do if you came into contact with various diseases and evil spirits.
Imagine Jesus going home with Simon and Andrew, entering the house of a diseased woman! Right away, according to the law, Jesus had become ritually unclean. The Son of God became impure for us!
There he is, placing his holy hands on sick and sweaty bodies, making them well. He’s bent down over people on dirty mats, placing his body against theirs. He has his fingers and palms in their wounds. He places his lips on theirs. He rubs infected skin. He traces swollen gums with his knuckles. He spits on his hands and massages it into their eyes and ears to bring sight and hearing. He does this, again and again and again, until everyone who had come to the door gets some of Jesus rubbed off onto them and can leave having been made whole again.
No religious leader or physician had ever tried a stunt like this before. Jesus is the Essential Worker. As we’ll discover in the Gospel of Mark, he heals, feeds, provides income, stimulates businesses, cares for the dead, visits the elderly, reaches out to the homeless, challenges the government, and brings “church” right to your door. He never wears a mask, he never follows social distancing laws, he doesn’t stay at home, and he keeps on working, day after day, night after night, until the only way to stop him is to kill him.
The writer Mark would later include these words from Jesus, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Did you notice the time of day people brought the sick to Jesus? “That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons” (Mark 1:32). Notice the repetition of the time of day. It not only says, “that evening,” but also it adds, “at sundown.” The repetition is for emphasis, but why? The types of people who came to see Jesus were not the types who were supposed to be out in public. They were diseased and demon possessed. They had to sneak into town to find Jesus under cover of night. To go out was illegal. But, as they would soon find out, when it’s late and nobody else will see you, Jesus is there for you.
What would you risk in order to see Jesus? When no one else is willing to take you in, Jesus will. When no one else will listen to your story or hear your cries, Jesus will. When no one else will get close to you or your wounds, whether physical or emotional, Jesus will. Whether you’re on house arrest or home restriction, he is your Essential Worker and he never stops laboring for you. “But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working’” (John 5:17).
This story captures the heart of Jesus for our broken world and how he started to make things right. One day, his work will finally be done, but until then, you’ll find him in ordinary homes throughout the world, ministering to mother-in-laws and doing what nobody else is willing to do for you.
Without Jesus, there would be nobody to pay the penalty for our sin, nobody to give us unconditional acceptance, nobody to give us a second chance, nobody to silence our demons at night, and nobody to grab our hand and lift us up on the last day.
Jesus is the Essential Worker.
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. 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. —Mark 1:29-34
- How is Jesus like us?
- How is Jesus not like us?
- If you had to come up with a definition for “love” based on this passage, what would it be?