Monday, September 10, 2018

Devotional: Jesus’ Authority and Mission, Mark 1.35-2.12

Mark 1-2 outline

One thing that is commonly misunderstood about Jesus is the means by which he did what he did. It is often thought that, because he was God, he could exercise that power in whatever way he wanted to. But Jesus (see Philippians 2.4-11) was resolved to live life as a full human being with the same dependence on God and experiencing the same weaknesses we humans experience. He did what he did by the same power we have available to us: the power of the Holy Spirit. This is why we see Jesus in prayer so often in the Gospels. This is why verses 35-39 of Mark 1 are so important. It is no accident that Jesus announces his Galilee mission to his disciples after an intense early morning time of prayer. Jesus acted with so much authority and power because he was constantly in tune with the Father which led to his knowing the will of the Father, then trusting the Father and then seeing the Father and the Spirit acting in amazing ways through him, so that “they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mk 2:12, ESV)

The Galilee mission begins with 2 amazing miracles; the healing of a group of lepers and then a paralytic in Capernaum. Mark gives two reasons that Jesus does these miracles. The first reason is that Jesus responds with compassion to people who come to him with their needs in simple faith. Jesus was “moved with pity” when he saw the lepers. We sometimes think that we have to jump through hoops, prove we are worthy, or rehearse some formula when we come to Jesus if we want him to respond to our requests, but the truth is he already knows and cares about our problems and wants to deal with them in a way that restores wholeness and deepens relationship with him. He is eager to help. If we have enough faith just to come to him he reaches out and heals. Over and over in the Gospels we see Jesus healing whoever comes to him.

The second reason he heals is to show the world who he is. Jesus tells the lepers to show themselves to the priest as a “proof” to them. He heals the paralytic and “forgives his sins” to announce to the nation that he had the divine authority to heal the nation and that God (Immanuel) was in their midst. The whole nation knew what was going on and  Jesus was so well known he could not even enter a town with out being mobbed. As Paul said to Agrippa (Acts 26.26) Jesus’ actions were not  “done in a corner.” These miracles screamed out Jesus’ identity to the nation, made them culpable for their unbelief and explain the phenomenal growth of the early church.

Jesus is the God-Man sent to the world to heal and renew it. His touch was God’s touch with the power to take what is broken and turn it into something new and whole. As we spend time in God’s presence and experience God’s touch, we will see the Holy Spirit bring his healing touch to the world through us as he did through Jesus.

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