Mark 1:32-39

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. Mark 1:32-39

To this day, there is no advertising that any businessperson covets more than good old fashioned “word of mouth”. Nothing attracts satisfied customers more than satisfied customers telling others how satisfied they are. And, of course, that also works the other way.

To this day, no matter how many times our parents might have drilled into our heads that “in this world, there is no such thing as a free lunch”, we are all subject to the absolute insanity that the world is full of free lunches. That is precisely the human pipe dream that con men prey on and manipulate. Everybody wants something for nothing. Everybody wants an edge. Insider information. And we fall for it.

Word spread quickly that there was this guy doing amazing things in Capernaum. Mark says the “whole city” gathered around Jesus. We can imagine that. How a neighborhood is suddenly swamped with onlookers and reporters after something significant happens. Rubberneckers clogging the lanes around a car crash. Lines snaking around the block to get the new iPhone.

What does Jesus do? He helps hurting people. He heals the sick and casts out demons. That is obvious. This morning I’d like us to notice two things that might not seem so obvious.

The first is the line, “he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.” This really is a curious thing for Jesus to say, and he will say it again and again in Mark. Why? Obviously Jesus wants to be known. He says himself, “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.” So why tell anyone NOT to tell the story of Jesus?

The explanation that makes the most sense to me goes back to the key question that Mark wants to answer – What do we make of a Messiah who dies? Mark’s answer will be the resurrection. That the death and resurrection of Jesus is the point of the whole story. Nothing that Jesus says or does will make much sense until we get to the resurrection story. And therefore, all of these stories of healing and casting out demons are all previews of coming attractions. They are “little resurrections” that demonstrate the power Jesus has to give us new life that will only be revealed in its fullness at the end.

And the other thing I want to notice is that, early in the morning, Jesus went to a deserted place to pray. He models God’s pattern of work/rest. His prayers remind us that there is more going on in him than a traveling medicine show. He reminds us again that God’s love has to come to us before it can flow through us.

Let us pray: Jesus, there is something powerful in imagining you surrounded by sick and hurting people rather than building an army. From the very beginning, people looked to you for healing. Be our Healer. And use us to tell our own stories of how you transform our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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