Authority over Disease

Jesus did not allow scruples over purity regulations to keep him from healing the sick and delivering the oppressed from demonic spirits. Neither the Sabbath restrictions nor the Levitical rules on ritual purity were intended to prevent human needs from being met. This was especially so when the Messiah of Israel was implementing the Kingdom of God.

In this story, Jesus does more than heal Peter’s mother-in-law. The account in the Gospel of Mark states that he was “grasping her hand.” The Greek sentence uses a verb having the sense of “grasp, seize; take hold of.”

Flower - Photo by Phillip Larking on Unsplash
[Photo by Phillip Larking on Unsplash]

In the culture of that day, to touch an unrelated woman was socially offensive, and in Jewish tradition, touching someone who was sick risked contracting ritual purity from him or her. Thus, in addition to physical healing, Jesus was bridging social and religious boundaries.

Though he was no political revolutionary, Jesus did not allow social or religious conventions to prevent him from restoring a member of the Jewish nation to wholeness, whether physical or religious restrictions.

  • And immediately, when they were come out of the synagogue, they went into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now, Simon's wife's mother lay sick with a fever, and immediately, they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand and raised her up. And the fever left her, and she ministered to them. And upon evening, when the sun set they brought to him all that were sick, and those possessed with demons. And all the city was gathered together at the door. He healed many who were sick with different diseases, and he cast out many demons.  And he suffered not the demons to speak because they knew him” – (Mark 1:29-34).

To save a life is more important than maintaining ritual purity, something even the Scribes and Pharisees allowed. However, with Jesus, there was something different in his attitude about ritual purity. This caused friction between him and the Pharisees who were more dogmatic about such things.

Simon’s mother-in-law rose and waited on Jesus and his companions. Mark does not report this fact to teach female subservience to men. The same verb translated as “serve” is used elsewhere in Mark for the angels “ministering” to Jesus in the wilderness (diakoneô). The term “deacon” comes from this Greek word - (Mark 10:45).

The physical activities of Peter’s mother-in-law demonstrated how immediate her healing was, and that service to others should follow the restoration of a disciple to wholeness.

The events in the larger passage occurred in the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus had cast out a demonic spirit on the Sabbath day. Although men and women were eager to approach the Messiah and have their physical needs met, they continued to conform to the Sabbath regulations by waiting until evening to do so - (Mark 1:21-38).

The Gospel of Mark distinguishes between the healing of sicknesses and the exorcism of demons - (“He healed many having various diseases and cast out many demons”). It does NOT attribute all afflictions to demons.

After these events, Jesus went out to a “lonely place to pray.” Elsewhere in Mark, he prays at night, in solitary places, and at critical points in his mission.



RELATED POSTS:
  • Authority over Satan - (Jesus demonstrated his authority over Satan by driving his forces out of the children of Israel – Mark 1:21-28)
  • His Authority - (Jesus is the Son of Man foreseen by Daniel, the Messiah who has absolute authority from God over the peoples of the Earth)
  • That Son of Man - (The one like the Son of Man in Daniel is the source of Christ’s self-designation as the Son of Man and his authority)

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