When the Work Begins

“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 1:32–34 ESV)

It’s been quite a day in Capernaum.  Jesus has been in the synagogue where one of those in attendance! has an unclean spirit.  Like every other demon that Jesus encounters, this one cannot help but proclaim that Jesus is “the Holy One of God.”  Jesus casts out the demon.  He proceeds to Peter’s house and heals his mother-in-law of a fever.  This is impressive work for one day, and a Sabbath at that.

It’s what he does next that both intrigues and condemns us.  The evening sets and the Sabbath ends, Jesus has earned the right to a good night’s rest.  He has already accomplished much.  But…

We discover that the real work is only just beginning.  The whole city comes out and gathers at Peter’s door and they bring along the sick and those who are oppressed by demons.  These are people who are in bondage to illness and in bondage to the spiritual forces of darkness.  There is much work to be done, and Jesus does the work.  We thought that his work was over for the time being, it had only just begun.

The Message of Mark makes a salient point here:

The news of his healings has spread (28), so now all who can, bring their sick and demon-possessed for healing. There is pathos in Blanch’s suggestion that since it was after the sun was set, Mark wishes us to understand that the Sabbath had just ended. When the synagogues were closed and the official business of worshipping God was over, then, in the open air, the real work of the kingdom began! None of us who belong to the church can feel easy in our consciences about the implication of that.

We like to think that the business of worshipping is kingdom work, but Jesus’ life disabuses us of that notion.  Worship is good and necessary, but it isn’t everything. When we leave the church building and head out to our jobs and lives and careers, this is when the work of the gospel really begins.

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