Jesus Is the Healer

So this morning we’re in Part Three of Mark Chapter 1, and there are three things we learn about Jesus in this passage. I want to go ahead and tell you what they are. Three things we learn:

  1. Jesus came down to bring us up. 
  2. Jesus creates an unlikely headquarters. 
  3. Jesus works in the quiet way.

Father, I believe this morning that you have something for us in your Word, and I believe this because of how you have worked in my own soul — so that if nobody else is helped, you’ve helped me, and I’m grateful. Thank you, Father. 

And now, I ask for the spill over. I ask for your peace to overflow among us, and that Jesus would be exalted. We ask this together in his name, amen. 

1. Jesus came down to bring us up.

So one of the things that Pastor Joe showed us last week is that the ministry of Jesus is now on the move, and Mark, in a way different from the other Gospels, gets right to the action. Already in Chapter 1, which we saw last week, Jesus calls his disciples; he casts out a demons; and he is astonishing people. Jesus is a teacher with authority. He not like the other rabbis because Jesus has power. Even demons are forced to obey him. 

And then here in verse 29 we jump to this new scene. Jesus has come to the house of Simon, also called Peter, and he’s going to continue to heal people. He actually begins to gain some popularity, and that’s a theme of this passage, I think, because of how it’s mentioned a couple times. Notice in verse 33 that Mark says “the whole city was gathered together at the door.”

The whole city was coming to Peter’s house, where Jesus was, to be healed. Whatever obscurity Jesus had in the past is now gone. Everybody is coming out to meet Jesus. And we see this again at the end of the passage, in verse 45. Jesus healed a man with leprosy, and he told the man not to tell people, but the man went out and told people anyway. And the word spread so quickly that Jesus, in verse 45, “could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.”

Everybody Comes from Everywhere

So this is twice where Mark has used a little hyperbole to get across the growth of Jesus’s ministry. First, in verse 33, it was the “whole city” waiting outside the door to be healed. Then, in verse 45, it’s that people were coming from “every quarter” — which means that in every direction you looked — north, south, east, west — people are coming to see Jesus. 

Just imagine that for a minute. Imagine that you’re there with Jesus in that desolate place, a little outside the city, and every direction you look there are swarms of people coming your way to meet Jesus. That’s what is happening here, already here in Mark Chapter 1. 

And so the question is why? 

Why are all these people coming to see Jesus?

Mark gives us the answer in verse 34. All the people were coming to Jesus in verse 33, then verse 34: “And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons.”

See, in the first week, at the beginning of Mark, we learned in Jesus’s baptism that when Jesus came to this world, he entered into our brokenness. When Jesus came here he stepped into the world of our pain and chaos. [You remember that from a couple weeks back?]

So first, we learn that Jesus entered our brokenness; and then here we learn that Jesus entered our brokenness not to leave us there

Jesus came down here — he came down here where we are — and what did he do? Verse 34: “he healed many who were sick with various diseases.”

The Central Point Here

And I love that Mark says “various diseases” because that could be anything. See if Mark said blindness most of us would check out. If he said leprosy, we skim right through it. But, he says “various diseases” which means it could be any kind of disease, which means we have stop and think this might apply to me. Maybe somewhere in that “various” is my struggle and my pain. Maybe if Jesus can heal “various diseases” maybe that means Jesus can heal me.  

But see, when our minds go here, it can be easy to get stuck on our problems. If we think too long about these “various diseases” then it leads us unbandage our wounds and stare at them again, and the longer we stare at our wounds the more we wonder what it would actually take for this healing to happen. 

So we look into our pain, and we think about all the things that caused our pain, and then we try to compute just what it requires for all this pain to be reversed, and the next thing you know, you’re hopeless. Because the math doesn’t work. And you don’t think it’s ever going to change. 

And this is where, I think, Mark would step in and tell you the good news that this passage, and this book, is not actually about your disease at all. 

And maybe that’s why he didn’t elaborate the details of these diseases — it’s because the point is not the diseases, the point is that Jesus heals. The point is that Jesus is the healer.

So this really has nothing to do with your circumstances but it has everything to do with who Jesus is. That is always the most important part of our suffering — it’s that we remember Jesus Christ, it’s that remember who he is.

And Jesus is the Great Redeemer, not the Great Commisurater. Jesus didn’t step into our brokenness to pat us on the back. He stepped into our brokenness to put us back together. That’s what he’s doing, because that’s who he is. 

And if that wasn’t the case, the crowds would not have gathered. The reason these people were coming to Jesus in Mark Chapter 1 is because Jesus healed them. And that’s the same reason people have continued to come to Jesus over the last 2,000 years. It’s because Jesus heals them. It’s because Jesus makes broken people whole. He does.

We see this in Mark Chapter 1. And here’s the second thing we learn. 

2. Jesus creates an unlikely headquarters. 

We see this right away in verse 29. This new scene of Jesus’s ministry takes place at Simon Peter and Andrew’s house. And back then whole families lived together, and so it’s not strange that Peter’s home was also the home of Peter’s mother-in-law — we see that in verse 30. Jesus steps into the house, and Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever, and immediately they told Jesus about her. 

And this an important detail. We don’t know exactly why they did this, just that when Jesus came to the house, verse 30, “immediately they told him about her.” But maybe this is why: 

In verse 28, after the exorcism, we read that Jesus’s fame had spread throughout the whole region. The cat was out of the bag, and the disciples most likely anticipated that the crowds would be coming to look for him. 

But Jesus leaves the synagogue and the first place he goes is a sick women’s house, and that probably didn’t feel very strategic to the disciples. Jesus was a teacher with authority and now an exorcist — and so he needs to find a platform to grow his ministry; the crowds are on their way. But instead he goes into a sick women’s home. 

He walks in, and they’re like:

“Hey, Jesus, hey, uh, there’s a sick lady in here.”

They told Jesus this right away. And then in verse 31, “And [Jesus] came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.”

Jesus healed her. And after he healed her, she began to serve them — and it’s important to keep reading. What kind of service did she do? Well, verse 32 says that by sundown they brought to Jesus “all who were sick and oppressed by demons.” And verse 33, “The whole city gathered together at the door.” 

So we need to get this: Jesus walks into a sick women’s home; he heals her; and the next thing you know she’s helping coordinate a ministry so that others can experience the same healing she has. 

Do you see what he did? 

Jesus makes the home of a sick woman the headquarters for healing. And this is what it means for you: it means you are never too broken for God to use you. 

Can you hear that? You are never too broken for God to use you. 

But you think you are. You think about your life, your diseases, and you think you’re the last person God would ever use to help somebody else. But listen: you can’t think that anymore. Because we see here that Jesus creates an unlikely headquarters. He uses sick people to help other sick people. 

Because, again, just so we don’t forget: they’re not coming for you; they’re coming for Jesus. These people don’t care that this is Peter’s house, or that his mother-in-law is there, or that she has been sick. They’re coming to see Jesus. And if Jesus is in your house, if he’s in your church, people will come there too. 

Jesus in Your House

Every other Wednesday night, on Asbury Street in Falcon Heights, cars are parked on both sides of the street, and it’s noticeable to my neighbors. They’ve made comments to me about it before because it gets a little crowded. And my explanation is pretty simple: “our church has these discipleship groups, and we have a group that meets at our house, and you should come.” And they get it. 

But you know what I’d really like to say? 

I’d like to tell them that the street get crowded because Jesus is in that house. 

That house right there is just full of a bunch of sick people. 

Sick people live there, and sick people come there, because Jesus is in there. Oh that God would make that true of us!

Is Jesus in your house? We want him to be, don’t we? We want that for our homes, and we want that for our church. We want Jesus to be here, and if Jesus is going to be here, do you know what that says about us? It says we’re sick. Jesus is going to spell this out in the Chapter 2. He says in Mark 2, verse 17, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

So if you’re well, you don’t need him. Jesus came for the sick. He came for sinners. And that’s us. I hope you know that. I hope you know that every Sunday when we gather here for worship we’re really no different than those people who gathered outside this sick woman’s door. We’re just sick people coming to meet the healer. We’re gathered together, just waiting in line like these people in Mark Chapter 1. 

Conversations Among the Sick

I wonder what those conversations were like here. They’re waiting outside the door together, and a blind man asks a leper, “Hey, man, how you doing today?” And the leper says, “I’m doing great! How are you?” And the blind man says, “I’m doing great!” And the demon-possessed guy beside them is now even more confused out of his mind.

Because it’s confusing. We’re a bunch of sick people who need to be healed, but we talk like everything is great. It’s not great. You’ve got leprosy, man! And people with leprosy were not coming to this house because the music was good. 

Do you get what I’m saying?

The church is a home for sick people — that’s why you’re here — I want you to know: it’s okay not to be okay. And I want that to be true about us. This is really a culture thing. I want this to be in the air of Cities Church. And this is where our language really matters. 

Those of you who have been through hardship, or have struggled in some way, you know that one of the most exhausting things is for people to ask you how your doing and you feel like you have to say “great” but you know it’s not “great.” Pretending is exhausting, but it’s tough because in most church cultures there’s not an appropriate way to say anything other than “great.” But I want us to do it different.

Can I make a suggestion?

When You’re Not Okay

This is getting really practical, maybe too practical. But I want to help us: What do we say when we’re asked how we’re doing, and we’re not doing great? What did the sick people say to each other as they were gathered at this door?

“Hey, how you doing?”

“Pray for me.”

You don’t have to divulge all the details. You’re not expected to bare your soul. But I want you to know it’s okay not to be okay, and this church is for you. Because that’s what the church is. So can we start doing this? 

If you are hurting, I want you to feel safe and free to say “I’m hurting.” So even today, when this service ends, and the conversations start, people are going to ask you, “How are you?” And you can say, “Pray for me.” 

And when you say that — when we say that — here’s what we’re going to do: It’s not going to be awkward. When we hear that, we’re going to nod our heads, we’re going say okay, we’re really going to pray. Sometimes we might pray right there, but most of time we will just say okay because we’re all sick people here, and this is just how it goes:

“How you doing?”

“Pray for me.”

“Okay, I will.” [And quietly you say to Jesus: Jesus, heal them.]

Jesus, make us a people like this. Amen.

3. Jesus works in the quiet way.

Check out verse 34, the second sentence. “And he [Jesus] would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.” And then look at verse 43, after Jesus healed a man with leprosy, “Jesus sternly charged him and send him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone” (v. 44). We also saw this in verse 24 from last week, that when the demon said who Jesus is, Jesus rebuked him and made him silent.

And this is a little bit odd to us. It seems like Jesus doesn’t want people to know who he is. 

And it’s not just this, but it’s also the places that Jesus prefers throughout his ministry. In verse 29, he went from the synagogue to a sick lady’s house, and then when after the crowds showed up her house and he healed many of them, we read in verse 35 that he snuck away in the early morning while it was still dark to a desolate place. He got away from the noise. He does the same thing in verse 45. He gets out of the city where the action is and he goes to a desolate place. 

So we see that not only does Jesus charge people not to make him known, but he also seems to run away from the popularity. And that doesn’t seem to add up with the action-packed, in-your-faceness of Mark’s Gospel. Jesus is “immediately” doing and saying all kinds of amazing things — it’s from one action to the next — and he’s doing it mostly in the shadows. He’s always stepping out of the limelight.   

So what’s going on? Why does Jesus do this?

The Messianic Secret

Well, in the Gospels, this aspect of Jesus’s ministry often called the “Messianic Secret” — and it has to do with the manner of his ministry (and this is really important) — it’s that when Jesus came preaching the gospel, ushering in the kingdom of God, he did it quietly. 

Now Jesus did say who he is, and of course he is healing people and casting out demons — so he’s making an impact, and eventually, at the human level, that’s what gets him killed. 

But notice how Jesus does not do his ministry — sometimes I think we’re so familiar with the story that this doesn’t stand out to us — but Jesus never launched PR campaigns. He never did any stunts to drum up support. He didn’t throw his weight around everywhere he went trying to cause a media splash. He didn’t obsess over or tweet about his approval rating. 

He was so different from what we’re used to seeing. 

Jesus was born in a stable, and for years he was a simple carpenter in the podunk town of Nazareth, until in his thirties he moved into and conducted his messianic ministry in a relatively subtle way. And in fact, this was actually prophesied about Jesus. Hundreds of years before Jesus, the prophet Isaiah wrote that when the Messiah comes he would come in stealth. 

It’s in Isaiah 42. You might have heard this passage before. Here’s how it goes. Isaiah 42:1–3,

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. [2] He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; [3] a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.

So Isaiah is talking about the Messiah here, and if you’ve heard this passage before, or if you’ve heard it taught, maybe you’ve heard it taught that when Isaiah says “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench” — maybe you’ve heard it taught that Isaiah is referring to the compassion and gentleness of the Messiah. That “Jesus is so compassionate and tender with the feeble.” [Ever heard that before?]

Well, that is true. Jesus is compassionate and gentle, but that is not actually what Isaiah is saying here. What Isaiah is saying is that the Messiah is going to be so understated, so quiet and soft in his footsteps, that he’s not even going to break a bruised reed. [A reed is a kind of grass; and even if it’s bruised, almost broken, the Messiah will be so discreet in his footsteps that he won’t break it.] 

Isaiah is saying that the Messiah’s ministry is going to be almost traceless. It will have a secrecy about it, almost like he tiptoes through this world. That’s what Isaiah means when he says: “a faintly burning wick he will not quench.” The Messiah’s work is going to be so quiet; his tiptoeing, as it were, is going to be so light, that his draft will not even put out a faintly burning wick. 

[Have you ever walked past a candle that’s barely burning? If you rush past it you cause a wake or a draft that makes the little flicker go out. But Jesus, in his ministry, he didn’t rush past candles.]

Jesus worked in a quiet way. He worked in an unassuming way, just like Isaiah said he would. There is actually a ninja element to Jesus.

Overturning Our Expectations

And this is a theme we see in the kingdom of God overall. It’s a theme in the ways of God — that God doesn’t do things the way we would expect. Pastor Joe said this last week. We have ideas about the ways things should go, and we have expectations for what a Messiah should be like, and then Jesus comes and overturns those expectations — and in overturning our expectations he actually fulfills God’s

Think about how this goes for the kingdom. Jesus says the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which is a tiny, little seed. But then when the seed is planted, it grows and becomes a tree bigger than all the other plants (see Matthew 13:31–33). So it is with the kingdom. It has a subtle, subversive nature to it — and we will miss it every time unless we have the eyes of faith. If you’re looking for the bright lights and the noise — if you think that’s where God works — you’ve got it wrong. You’re looking in the wrong place.

And learn this most vividly in the cross. Who, in that moment, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, when Jesus hung on the cross — who could have expected that he was defeating sin and death, and triumphing over the demonic world? He was dying on a cross! The man is dying! He’s bleeding! He is gasping for air! And he is winning the greatest victory the world has ever known. 

We said a couple weeks ago, that on the cross Jesus was destroying evil as it was doing its worst to destroy him. We could never have guessed that, but he was. He did. 

Now one day in the future, at the return of Jesus, there will be head-ringing trumpets and a split open sky and whole fleets of heaven’s angels, with Jesus front and center — and his eyes will be like flames of fire, and he’ll wear crowns on his head, and his mouth, with the words he speaks, will be like a sharp sword with which he will rule the nations (see Revelation 19). Jesus is coming like that. That day is on its way. But that day is not right now, not yet. 

For now, if you want to see Jesus you need the eyes of faith. And if you haven’t met him yet, I want you to meet him this morning. He’s here, speaking through these words, calling you to believe. Do you see him with the eyes of faith? Believe him.

The Fire Higher and Hotter

And then I think about so many of us, and the things we’re facing, and hardships that you might be going through. And our most urgent question in seasons of suffering is always: Where is Jesus? 

And I’m saying he’s with you. 

And you’re saying: It doesn’t feel like he’s with with me. It doesn’t feel like he’s doing anything!

But I want you to know how he works. When it feels like he’s doing nothing, he might actually be working the hardest. When it seems like he’s so far away, he might actually be closer than you could ever imagine.

In the book Pilgrim’s Progress there’s this one scene that shows us how this works in a powerful way. 

John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress in 1678. It’s an allegory of the Christian life, and in this one scene, Christian, the main character, is being led by Interpreter, and they come to this fire burning against a wall. And Christian looks at this fire and he sees someone standing by the fire who keeps casting water upon it, trying to put it out, but the fire just keeps burning “higher and hotter.” 

And Christian asks Interpreter what’s going on, and Interpreter explains: the fire you see is the work of grace that God has wrought in the heart, and the person dumping water on the fire is Satan, but you’ll notice that as more water gets dumped on the fire, the fire only burns higher and hotter. And here’s why.

And then Interpreter takes Christian around the other side of the wall, and there he saw a man with a [bucket] of fuel in his hand, [and that man was continually casting the fuel into the fire, but doing it secretly.] 

Then said Christian, What means this? 

The Interpreter answered him, This is Christ, who continually, with the fuel of his grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart: by the means of which, [whatever the devil can do], the souls of His people persevere.

I don’t know how hard things might be for you right now, but I want you to know this: the Jesus you feel like is missing is actually dumping buckets of fuel on the fire of your faith. And if you can’t feel him, if you can’t see him, it’s because he’s on the other side of the wall. You know how he works.

The Table

And that’s what makes the Table so important. So much of the Christian life is unseen and invisible, and that’s why the sacraments of the church — baptism and the Lord’s Table — are such gifts. Jesus has given us these visible dramas to represent and remember spiritual reality. 

That’s what we’re doing at the Table. As we take the bread and the cup, we are demonstrating our union with Jesus by faith. We are showing that indeed we do believe in him, and we do share in all the benefits of his death and resurrection. And this morning, if that is your story, we invite you to eat and drink with us.