Years ago I had a friend tell me that my life was summed up in a song, I’m in a Hurry, by Alabama (my life according to Stan) Stan said that I stayed so busy that there was no time for anything—no time for rest, no time for play, no time for church, no time to pray….and he said this to me as he sipped a Foster’s beer in my tiny living room back on the farm—no time to play—and he sips a beer. I had never heard the song, never been a devoted fan of country music, and had no context for his remark—-which I did not appreciate. Anger drove my truck to Wal-Mart in Douglas, GA where I bought the Brooks and Dunn version of Stan’s song reference. I shoved the cassette into my dahsboard cassette player and listened as an accurate assessment of my life unfolded. He was right—i was in a hurry—too big of a hurry,
And so it seems was the throng in Mark 1:29-39. Check out the “hurry” words:
29Καὶ εὐθὺς And immediately
30καὶ εὐθὺς And immediately
31καὶ ἀφῆκεν and instantly left
35Καὶ πρωῒ ἔν νυχα and rising early in the night
37καὶ εὗρον αὐτὸν and upon finding him
They’re in a hurry to get things done. Jesus immediately leaves the synagogue and it is still shabbat. He immediately heals a lady during shabbat. Yellow card–Jesus, that is a no-no. And she immediately serves Jesus and his happy herd. Yellow card—Lady, that is a no-no. And at sunset, end of shabbat, the whole town shows up for healing and exorcism. It is interesting to note that the first healing sets a person immediately into service, these other healings may or may not have resulted in the same. Also important to note is that the Greek word used for healing in this text is a form of θεράπεῶ from whence cometh our word “therapy.” It does mean “to heal” and yet it also can carry with it the notion of “to set to service.” It really does capture what happens with the healed lady who immediately starts to serve.
It is so easy to get tunnel-visioned into the space where the healings and exorcisms catch our attention and upstage two critical understandings:
1) that Jesus did heal and did perform exorcisms but these are not his purpose….a purpose stated in v.14b-15, “Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” This is reinforced by Jesus in v.38, “Let’s go into the neighboring towns, that I may proclaim there, too, because it was for this that I came.” Jesus did not come to heal and cast out demons—that’s the bonus—the reason for coming was to proclaim.
2) that Jesus took time to be alone and pray…a pattern that he repeats throughout Mark. V. 35 says, “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” Jesus did not let the hurry of people and the rush of their anxieties, hopes, anticipations, separate him from solitude and prayer. Would that it were so with us! And isn’t it typical of people, that as Jesus and we ourselves take time to pray we get hounded. Look at v. 36, “And Simon and his companions hunted for him.”
It seems that Jesus sees his purpose as proclamation and the fuel for that proclamation to be solitude and prayer. We’re in a hurry to get things done—we rush and worry ’til life’s no fun—-all we really got to do it live and die—but we’re in a hurry and don’t know why. And yet this is not so with Jesus—he holds his purpose clear, and plugs into prayer. Shouldn’t it be so with us?
Preachers—is it really our purpose to play up healing and the demonic on Sunday? Could our purpose be the same as Jesus, the proclamation of a Kingdom and Good News? At the very least, if we lift up healing and the casting out of demons, it ought to be secondary to the mission, person, and purpose of Jesus. After all, when it comes to exorcisms and healings, many are healed, but not all—yet in the Kingdom business of Good News proclamation, none go away wanting.