As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
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.
Comment: The text from the Gospel of Mark describes the very earliest days of Jesus’ ministry. At this point, he is unknown (of course, even at the end of his life, his fame was not as great as we Christians imagine it to have been), and it is not entirely clear what his intentions are. The disciples have seen Jesus heal Peter’s (Simon’s) mother-in-law and it is dawning on them that something remarkable is happening in their midst. It is useful, though difficult, to imagine what our “first impressions” of Jesus would have been if we had come across him without any prior knowledge or expectation. To do so entails a great deal of “un-learning,” but the effort is worthwhile. In any case, while the disciples and the public aren’t sure what Jesus is about, he knows in his heart what he means to do. We are often drawn to people who have clarity of purpose because so few of us possess it. The “draw” to Jesus is particularly strong because his purpose seems devoid of ego and of self-serving.
If you try to erase everything you know about Jesus (impossible, but worth the effort) and then imagine learning about him for the first time, what do you suppose your response would be?
What do you understand Jesus’ purpose to have been?
In what ways does Jesus’ purpose in life illuminate the purpose of your own life?