Fifth Sunday after Epiphany | Love to Tell the Story | Mark 1:29-39 | Pastor Norma Johnson | February 7, 2021

Trina came running into the house – all excited.  She was a little chatter box and she had been to Sunday School that morning with some of her friends.  They had baked some cookies a

Trina came running into the house – all excited.  She was a little chatter box and she had been to Sunday School that morning with some of her friends.  They had baked some cookies and after church the whole class had delivered them to some members and friends in a local nursing home.  When she came bouncing into the house, she wanted to share with her mother – and a visitor – what they had been doing.  So she came bustling into the kitchen like a little whirlwind and – not stopping even to take a breath – she started telling all about her day.  She went on and on in her excitement.

Finally her mother, extremely annoyed by her daughter’s interruptions and lack of manners, told her that she shouldn’t interrupt and then ramble on so.

Trina stopped for a moment, cocked her head a little to one side, looked up at her mother with her big bright sparkling. eyes and said: “How else am I going to tell the story?”

Well, telling the story is the message we get in both the Gospel and the Second Lesson this morning!  St. Paul says “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”  And, Jesus says to Peter and the others: “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.”

Jesus was here to tell about the kingdom of God as we are told in verses 14 & 15 in this same chapter of Mark.  And, Mark tells us over and over again how Jesus went throughout the towns preaching and healing.

And, we see in today’s text how Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law.  How many of us ever think of Peter as having been married, let alone as having a mother-in-law!  But, we see here that he does.  And she is apparently very ill with a fever.

In our text, we are told that Jesus touches her, and heals her.  He doesn’t say anything, he simply reaches out and touches her.  In the midst of her fever and suffering, Jesus comes to her.

Today, we often live to a feverish pitch and we live in a feverish world.  Through sickness and health, work and home, comings and goings, virus and pandemic, we know that feverishness and Jesus comes to us, too.  He touches us, even today, in the bread and the wine, the body and blood.

In our Gospel text, we see how this woman who was cured of her fever, Peter’s mother-in-law, serves Jesus and his disciples as a disciple serves.  You and I, in response to God’s gift in Christ are also disciples – and we are also called to serve.  We are called to serve in many ways – through our gifts, through our talents and through our own telling of the story!

Now, it says here in Mark’s Gospel that all the people in that city, who were either sick or possessed with demons, were brought to Jesus that same night.  Mark is recounting the story of a day in the life of Jesus.  Many of these people were healed.  Then, in the morning Jesus went out to pray.  To be alone with God.  In the midst of the clamor for healings, we see Jesus quiet and praying.

Now, how difficult is it for us, to remember to seek God first – even in the clamor and the noise of everyday life, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle and the cares of daily living.  Yet, Jesus remembered.

But then, in the midst of his prayers, Peter and the others came running out to him and told him to come back to the city because everyone was looking for him.

No doubt there were many more who were coming to be healed – and besides that, Jesus’ fame was beginning to spread.

But Jesus was not operating on their agenda.  He was fulfilling God’s agenda and there was more to the story than healing and casting out demons – more to the story than fame.

And Jesus said (remember): “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.”

I must admit that if I had been one of the disciples just then, I would probably have been very upset.  They had searched everywhere to find Jesus.  Here were all these people looking for him – for he could heal them – and his fame was spreading.  Yes, if I had been one of them, I probably would have said something like: “Come on, Jesus, all these people are waiting for you – how can you leave them?”

But Jesus knew that there was more, oh so much more, to God’s story.  Healing was in deed a part of it – yet, the real point of Jesus’ ministry was the breaking in of God’s kingdom, in and through Jesus.

Jesus knew this and so he pressed on to share the news “throughout all of Galilee.”

And so, we see him time and time again throughout Mark’s gospel, preaching as well as healing and casting out demons.

And, what does all of this have to do with you and with me, today – and here and now?

First of all, as someone has said:  “God didn’t stop speaking when the Bible went to press.” – God is still speaking to us, and through us, as we continue to tell the story.  All of us are called to preach in one way or another – for preaching is the promise – and it proclaims the Word of God.  It is through preaching and teaching that others are brought to a life-giving encounter with God.  It is for this reason that Jesus insisted on going out into Galilee; it is for this reason that we follow in his footsteps reaching out to others – both with the proclamation of the Gospel, and our prayers, and our services towards healing.

For they go hand in hand, proclamation, prayers, and healing.

And we do these things in many ways.  Not only in the formal ways of preaching and teaching, but also in the very way we live our lives, even when we feel we have made a real mess of things; and we do so by inviting others to share in worship and Bible Study, continuing to reach out in mission through our Outreach Program and by our own word-of-mouth as we are sent throughout the world for business or for pleasure.

And healings are a part of our ministries – not only when we help each other in times of illness and stress, but also when we work towards healing in society and when we strive for justice.

And it is important for us to remember that whether we are involved in preaching or in healing, it is always Gospel-speaking, that is, present-tense-speaking.

A few moments ago I referred to Mark 1:14 & 15.  Let me read it for you.  It says:  “… Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God and saying, ‘the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is near; repent and believe in the Gospel.”  Folks, those are present tense verbs: time is fulfilled; kingdom is near; repent; believe.  And, they are as real for us today as they were for those in the time of Jesus.  Gospel-speaking is dynamic and living – it is here and now – Jesus continues to say to us: “This is my body given for you!  Yes, Gospel-speaking is telling the story of what Jesus does for us, now!  And I don’t mean things like giving us what we want like perfect health, or a new car, or even food on the table!  No, instead, I mean like forgiving us every day for our own self-centeredness and giving us new life in Christ.  That is the story, the present-day story that we are to tell.

No wonder Jesus was intent to push on and to preach; no wonder St. Paul found it so important; no wonder Trina was so excited!

Like Trina, who was so eager to tell the story, and St. Paul, who was always excited about preaching the Gospel, may we too be chatterboxes for Christ, loving to tell the story.


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