Archive for February 7th, 2021

Text: St. Mark 1:21-39

Last week’s Gospel, immediately before today’s, we heard of Jesus teaching in Capernaum’s synagogue, and the people were amazed for he taught with authority.  The scribes and company legalistically taught, showing the people inward into themselves to save themselves. It was not the true teaching of the law showing us how sin and pointing to our Savior.  He came not totie burdens on them but to lift the burdens off their shoulders and their hearts, the burdens of the flesh and of the heart, soul and mind, the sin which clings so closely.  Then over to Peter and Andrew’s home…it was quite a Sabbath Day in Capernaum. 

Peter’s mother-in-law could not get up. She was burning with fever.   Jesus takes her by the hand and lifts her up.  The word in Greek for “lifts”,  can also be translated, raised, as in resurrected.  She then went about her vocation as a mother and hostess.  Jesus touches her.   Sickness separates us from others while sin and the demonic separates us from God and then each other.  The chasm between us and God is great and Jesus came out to bridge the terrible gulf and conquer the abyss of hell. He resurrects her.

Separation is also the devil’s game, to wrench us away from the Lord with temptation and sorrow and doubt.  Illness likewise is like demonic possession:  sickness gets us off by ourselves.  Sickness is almost always a quarantine.  When sick, what’s the one thing you want the most?  Yes, to do activities of daily living.  Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was burning with fever and could not do what she was called to to.

Israel questioned in their weariness and fainting:

Why do you say, O Jacob,
    and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
    and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord 

shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

We all tend to question thus with Israel. Now wait and hope in Hebrew is the same word and both direct us outside of us to the Lord.  Our way is not hidden from the Lord.The townspeople, the fishermen, the grocers, the weavers, the fathers, the mothers dutifully waited for sundown to go to Peter and Andrew’s home.  Why?  Answer:  the end of the Sabbath day, sunset on Saturday and the beginning of the first day of the week, Sunday, and the Lord of the Sabbath had made that home His House, the House of the Lord.  

You shall observe the worship day/That peace may fill your home, and pray,/And put side the work you do/So that God may work in you”/Have mercy, Lord! (Lutheran Service Book, hymn #581, These are the Holy Ten Commands, stanza 4)

The doors of the Synagogue and at Peter’s house were battle line, a threshold. A threshold is a border between inside a home and outside the home. This threshold was the place the Lord works in you, to bring you into Himself day by day with His Word, out of the World,   for the peace which guards our hearts and minds, the peace that surpasses understanding, not the peace the world gives, the peace the Lord gives:  faith, hope and love.

Back to last week’s Gospel: The Rolling Stones wrote and sang a song, Sympathy for the Devil and  the singer is the devil. We cannot have sympathy for evil and sin.  Jesus knows the devil’s game up close and personal.  Some 4 times in this short Gospel lesson the demons are mentioned.  Jesus knows the devil’s game:  it’s you, even the Rolling Stones knew the devil’s game (and probably better than many a Christian!):  to steal “many a man’s soul and faith”.  Jesus is no thief. Jesus has NO sympathy with the devil but for men and women possessed, Jesus has perfect sympathy, “sym-patheo”. literally “to suffer with”. When the devil comes a knocking don’t answer that door but pray, Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from the evil one.. You cannot dialogue with the devil.  Devil and his evil is cast out, muzzled, renounced and rejected, but even that is not enough, for by our own strength we can stop devil and evil. IF we try  we are only fooling ourselves but not the evil one. Remember those questions at a Baptism are prelude to the Baptism itself, the door of Jesus Christ opening the reign of heaven to you and to me.  When the devil says you are not good, you are not holy, you should have more in life, you’ve been gypped by life, just pray to the Lord and pray:  But I am baptized!  I am Christ’s.

Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!/ Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed./Now that to the font I’ve traveled, all your might has come unraveled,/And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me!   (“God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It”, #594, Lutheran Service)

There may be a song or two about the evil one, but the hymns, psalms and songs know no end of our Savior and His compassion.

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.

Hebrews 5:7  In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

After that evening, Jesus goes to bed then gets up early, before rise of sun to pray. In a sense He retreated. He seems to have planned to this.   The Lord had been fighting the enemy, the terrorists of soul and body.  He was tired. He need to pray to His dear Father. His coming out into the world for the life of world was about Him for us all.  He had no sympathy for the devil but sympathy for you.  His life centers on His Father’s Word who said of Him, This is my beloved Son. This is what the Liturgy, the Divine Service is all about:  It’s about the beloved Son of the Father.  This is my beloved Son. This is a way of looking at the Divine Service and all the services of God’s House:  a retreat every Sunday morning, away from the battle line. This is my beloved Son. Jesus, true man, needed to be with His Father.  Jesus was tempted in every we are, yet was without sin, yet was bearing already your sin and mine.  He needed to pray. 

Too many times worship services are conceived as about us.  No.  A worship service or a retreat are not more and more about me and you, but more and ever more about the Lord, more about Jesus for us and our salvation. The Lord has given you His Word and Sacrament to purpose His Presence and proclaim through them the Christ, This is my beloved Son. 

The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.

“The one door is open and all who enter in will find a Father’s welcome and freedom from their sin.”  He touches us with bread and wine, His body and His blood as He Himself has done so in His House.  We all need to retreat from the battle lines.  And it is not Peter’s mother in law serving the Lord, but the Lord serving us: 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”.  He told His first disciples, the reason He came out, came out of Peter and Andrew’s home, and the House of His Father:  I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. I have stood there in Capernaum…seeing the sights the Lord saw in His earthly ministry…many things change, but that landscape has been there for some time.  He came out to the towns and the synagogues proclaiming the reign of God and looking down the length of the Sea of Galilee beyond sight there is Jerusalem, where the Lord would go and bear the cross for you  and for me. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Now the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guards your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

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