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Bethany Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Ishpeming, Michigan † Est. 1870

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Epiphany 2/8

In today’s gospel reading we’re not even out of the first chapter of Mark. We are still in early days, the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus and his little band of disciples haven’t gotten any further than Capernaum, Simon and Andrew’s home town. So naturally after Jesus has taught and exorcised a demon in the synagogue, covered in last week’s gospel reading, they drop by Simon and Andrew’s house. It’s a good place to check up with the family, have something to eat, and get some sleep free of charge. When they arrive, it transpires that Simon’s mother-in-law has fallen and is suffering from some sort of fever. Having just seen Jesus perform an exorcism, they rush to tell him about it. After all, if he can cast out demons, maybe he can do something about a fever too. As it turns out he can. All he has to do is take her by the hand and lift her up and boom, she’s right as rain. No gradual recovery for her. One minute she’s sick in bed and the next she’s well enough that she’s making dinner and looking after the unexpected guests. Of course when this sort of thing happens word gets around pretty fast. By the end of the Sabbath all sorts of people are at the door hoping to be cured. That’s what he spends his evening doing, curing the sick and casting out demons. In the morning when his companions wake up they go looking for him.. In turns out that he’s been up praying. They ask him to come back with them. After all everyone in town wants to know more about him and thinks he’s great after what he’s done. But Jesus says no, he wants to press on. He came to proclaim to people and so out to find more people to proclaim to. He’s not staying in one place.

I don’t know how much sense this would have made to his disciples. At least some of them were from Capernaum. They had families there and would have been happy to stay there. Also he’s just done a ton of healing there so his stock is way up with the local population. If they had stayed there they could have turned it into a comfortable and rewarding gig.  It would be what was expected. You stayed in one place and the people came to you. John the Baptist certainly wasn’t the only guy who operated that they with people coming to him at the Jordan River. That way you could build up a reputation and a clientele while minimizing the wear and tear on yourself and guaranteeing a soft bed at night. Being a disciple in that situation was pretty sweet.

However, that’s not Jesus’ plan. Instead the people having to come to Jesus he comes to them where they are. He doesn’t wait for people to discover the good news on their own but he brings it to them. Instead of the hardship falling on those who would trek to see him, he takes the hardship upon himself.

Of course this must have been puzzling to the disciples, not only was there material benefit to be found in staying where they were, but it must have seemed like a perfect mission field to them. The people of Capernaum have seen what Jesus can do. They must have lots of questions. They are ripe for believing. Why not reveal to them the whole program and let it spread from there?

Unfortunately the people of Capernaum don’t get all of the answers. Instead he slips out while it’s still dark and leaves town. For Capernaum the hard part wasn’t discovering Jesus, it was what do you do once you’ve met him, once he’s changed you? Instead of knowing the answers, they are left with questions and silence. That’s where the real hard work lies, not in the touch of God, but in how do we respond. Jesus doesn’t give us an easy, one size fits all answer to that question. Instead we are left to ponder it and discover the answer on our own.

For us that’s where the true journey lies. God enters our lives. We have no control over that. But what do we do when God has been there but life is just as confusing as ever? We keep on wanting to find Jesus, stick him safely on a shelf and demand some absolute rules to live by and absolute answers that solve things for once and all. Jesus doesn’t stay very well on a shelf though and he won’t give us all of the answers that we want. Jesus isn’t there for answers. He is there for relationship. He’s not here to give us a universal twelve point plan, but to start us on our own unique journey of relationship with God. If we aren’t given all of the answers we have no choice but to delve deeper and deeper seeking. If we haven’t found all of the answers yet that’s OK. There is always more about our relationship with God that is yet to be discovered. This is one case where the journey is its own reward and we’ll be all right as long we press forward with our questions and our thirst to know more of God.

Stay curious.

Vicar Joy Proper


Bethany Lutheran Church
715 Mather Avenue
Ishpeming, MI 49849

Phone: 906-486-4351
Fax: 906-486-9640

Rev. Warren Geier, Pastor

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