“If Jesus Can Heal and Cast Out Demons, What Else Can He Do?”

08 February 2015

Mark 1:29-39

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor

East Rochester & West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Churches

 

Mark 1:29-39

 

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

 

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured 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. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

 

Prayer.

 

Jesus has started his public ministry with a bang!

Last Sunday, we heard the passage immediately preceding today’s Gospel:

Of Jesus teaching with authority in the Capernaum Synagogue

Then confronting a man who challenged his authority

And casting the demon right out of him

In front of everyone!

Just imagine the look on their faces!

 

Today we hear Jesus entered the nearby house of Simon’s mother-in-law.

Go ahead and crack all the mother-in-law jokes you want.

I will not.

With the simplicity of taking this woman by the hand

And lifting her up

Jesus heals her of a fever.

 

In a New York minute

Jesus is addressing the new economy of supply and demand.

He demonstrated he had a seemingly unlimited supply of healing

While the world made a pathway to his doorstep

With an apparent unlimited demand for health and wellness.

He cures many of various sicknesses and diseases.

I’m thinking,

Let’s get this man a medical license

And start asking him to do rounds at local hospitals.

Let’s put an end to the flu and pneumonia!

Jesus casts out many demons.

I’m thinking,

Once Jesus reaches out and touches the possessed,

Throw away the

Anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and anti-addiction medication.

When Jesus casts out demons

Even observers have their PTSD wiped clean from their brains.

 

This unlimited supply of healing and wholeness

Is part and parcel of the amazing, abundant, unlimited grace of God.

I’ve been thinking all week,

“If Jesus Can Heal and Cast Out Demons, What Else Can He Do?”

 

The question our Gospel begs of us today

What does this grace mean to me and to our community of faith?

 

In a recent article in the Christian Century,

Noted sociologist, Nancy Ammerman, shares her research

Regarding spirituality and religiousness in today’s world.

“Congregations re­main important,”

she observes.

“They are the settings or vessels that give shape and encouragement

to the spiritual life and practice of individuals and families.”

“One of the most striking results of this research has been the degree to which participation in organized religion matters.”

“The people with the most robust sense of sacred presence are those who participate in religious activities that allow for conversation and relationship.”

Ammerman writes.

(“Not religious, not spiritual” as found at: http://www.christiancentury.org/reviews/2015-01/not-religious-not-spiritual?utm_content=buffer1a0bd&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer)

 

My friend, Laurie Tiberi, the Protestant Chaplain

At the University of Rochester correctly responds,

“Hmm... this fits with the admonition in the New Testament, ‘ ...let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.’ “

(Hebrews 10: 24-25)

 

Every member and friend of this congregation matters!

Each person matters because Christ is in each and every one of us.

With love and good deeds, let us encourage one another!

What does this look like?

 

1. In Christ we are Handcrafted by God.

Ephesians 2:10 reads,

“For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”

Tell me,

How has God crafted us together?

(Testimony)

This is amazing grace!

 

2. In Christ we are Blessed by God.

Ephesians 1:3 reads

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”

Tell me,

How does God bless this congregation?

(Testimony)

This is amazing grace!

 

3. In Christ we are Not Condemned.

Romans 8:1-2 reads

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

Tell me,

How is God sparing our community of faith from condemnation?

(Testimony)

This is amazing grace!

 

4. In Christ we are United with Jesus.

1 Corinthians 6:17 reads

“But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.”

Tell me,

How are we united with Jesus?

(Testimony)

This is amazing grace!

 

5. In Christ we are Safe in God’s Hand.

John 10:28 reads

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Tell me,

With us safe in God’s hand, is there anything we can’t accomplish?

(Testimony)

This is amazing grace!

 

Indeed, friends,

We can do “all things through Christ who strengthens us.”

(Philippians 4:13)

Allow the days of scarcity and want to be burried.

Let us gather together to advance the will of Christ in our church.

Led your time,

Your talents,

And your resources

(yes, that means your money and mine)

To encourage one another

And reach out in Christ’s name

With love and good deeds

To those in need

Right outside our front doors.

If we don’t reach out with Christ to the world

Who will?

If Jesus can heal, cast out demons, and raise the dead,

What is stopping us?

Amen.