Reading Time: 4 mins

Gospel: Mark 1:29-39 (Epiphany 5: Series B)

Reading Time: 4 mins

Jesus is about the business of remaking creation, one synagogue, one house, one city at a time.

“Have you settled in yet?” I asked a friend. He and his family had just moved to a new home. A job relocation brought them to St. Louis, and they had moved into their house, unpacked their belongings, and got their kids into school, but they were still very far from “being home.”

It takes time for us to settle in. “Being home” is about more than having all of your possessions under one roof. It involves learning what church to attend, where to shop for groceries, how to navigate the roads, how to form a community of people you can love, and to discover ways you can serve. “Being home” is a process which can take years to unfold.

I thought of that when I read the gospel reading from Mark. Jesus has come to the world His Father created, yet He is not really home. The synagogue where He was teaching (verse 29) had been claimed by an unclean spirit (Mark 1:23-24). The home where he was invited to stay the evening (also verse 29) was filled with sickness, making ordinary hospitality impossible. When the sun went down and the Sabbath was over, the town where this synagogue and this home were located revealed its heartache (verse 32). People came out, bringing their sick and their demon possessed to Jesus. And this town was only one of many towns that spread throughout Galilee (verse 39).

In today’s reading, we see the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and it starts in disordered and distressed social spaces. The synagogue, the home, the city... all are not what they should be. Jesus has come to His Father’s world, yet it is going to take time to settle in. The demons know who He is, but he will not allow them to speak (verse 34). People will not learn about Jesus from the mouth of a demon. Instead, they will learn about Jesus from His mouth and from His hands and from His heart as He goes about His work.

Jesus is about the business of remaking creation, one synagogue, one house, one city at a time.

In Capernaum, His work starts in the synagogue. There, where people gather for worship and the Word of God is read, Jesus claims this space as holy and drives out the unclean spirit. Then, His work enters into the home. Here, something as simple as an illness is cause for Jesus to come and work. He goes to the bedside of Simon’s mother-in-law. There He will not just speak a word that brings healing. Instead, He takes her by the hand and raises her up and restores her. She, in thanks, does not call attention to His healing. Instead, she goes about her business, turning her home into a place of hospitality, making a meal to feed her guest.

From the home, the work of Jesus then spreads into the community. People come to the doorway and bring their real needs and burdens. Jesus sees and He blesses and He heals. He restores the community by healing its people. Then, He lifts His eyes in prayer to a much larger and more beautiful mission: The restoration of all synagogues, homes, and cities. He leads His disciples on the footsteps of that mission.

He lifts His eyes in prayer to a much larger and more beautiful mission: The restoration of all synagogues, homes, and cities. He leads His disciples on the footsteps of that mission.

This is how Mark invites us to see the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. It is an act of restoration. Jesus is coming to the world and transforming it into His home for His people. This work of Jesus will take Him to the cross, where He will find the outcast, the rejected, the shamed, the abusers, and the abused. And there, on the cross, He will take God’s punishment for all sin upon Himself that He might bring God’s restoration to the farthest corners of the earth. Sinners and sufferers will all find a place in God’s Kingdom where they are welcomed home; not merely tolerated, not merely accepted. No, they will be forgiven and never forsaken. They will be welcomed home.

Whether you have been a member of your congregation for your entire lifetime or you just walked in today to visit, we are all in the process of settling in. The Kingdom of God, begun in Jesus, has not been fully realized and will not be fully realized until Jesus returns. Until that time, we are settling in.

Although we are brought into God’s Kingdom by baptism, it takes time for us to settle in. God’s ministry is not just limited to His work on Sunday morning. Christ’s Kingdom is not just a teaching to be understood. It is the world of our ordinary lives filled with God’s extraordinary love. Jesus extends His care to the smallest aspects of our existence. He can remove a fever and bless our making of a meal. He reaches from our churches to our homes and from our homes into our communities and, thereby, slowly reveals to the world what it means to have a Savior.

Although they could do it, Jesus will not let demons reveal His rule. That is left to you. Through our worship, our work in our homes, and our service in God’s world, we reveal to others the head, the heart, and the hands of Jesus. It is taking centuries, yes. But the Kingdom is here. And today, Jesus reminds us we are living in the Kingdom of God, on the edge of restoration, and we are just beginning to settle in.

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Additional Resources:

Craft of Preaching-Check out out 1517’s resources on Mark 1:29-39.

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Mark 1:29-39.

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Mark 1:29-39.

Lectionary Kick-Start-Check out this fantastic podcast from Craft of Preaching authors Peter Nafzger and David Schmitt as they dig into the texts for this Sunday!

Lectionary Podcast-Dr. Walter Maier III of Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through Mark 1:29-39.