The gospel narration of a typical day in the public ministry of Jesus portrays Him as gospel-driven messiah, focused on proclaiming to everyone the message of salvation (Mark 1:29-39). He derived His kerygmatic orientation from His prayer-intimacy with His heavenly Father.
The true messiah
“The day of the messiah” (Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1-2) manifesting the glory of the Lord means the bringing of glad tidings to the lowly and comfort to all who mourn. The prophetic expectations and images of hope and healing, of freedom and vindication become realized in Jesus, teaching with authority, healing the sick and driving demons away. But Mark is obviously muting down the public enthusiasm regarding the wondrous powers of Jesus. They are signs of the reign of God, not of some political agenda. There is the contrived “secrecy” about his true identity with the command silencing the demons, not because they know the truth, but because they, as the people also, know only half the truth: the seductive falsehood about being the powerful messiah but not as the suffering servant of God.
Jesus disassociated Himself from the centuries-old political hopes of His people. They were looking for a wonder-working messiah whose political might would restore the power and glory of Israel, a leader to give them victory over their enemies. For Mark, the greatest wonder performed by Jesus is paradoxically the mystery of His suffering and death on the cross (Mark 15:39). This necessary differentiation is highlighted by the particular verb he employs in describing how Simon and the others were searching for Jesus early morning. “Everyone is looking [zetein] for you”—it indicates a misguided search, looking for a wrong person in Jesus, misunderstanding and misconstruing Him.
A man of prayer
Jesus, however, is intentionally portrayed by the inspired writer as a man praying. After the healings and the recognition by demons, Jesus retreats to pray. This is a consistent action by Jesus when He is confronted by people’s misconception and distortion of His mission (Mark 6:46; 14:35. 39). From such a prayerful pause from His activities in intimacy with His heavenly Father, Jesus emerges focused as ever in the direction of His ways and the goal of His efforts. He is not intoxicated by the popular reaction to his power; he refused to bask in their admiration and to tarry with them and to forget that he is to serve all and has still many others to reach out to.
If Jesus, as a man of prayer who lives in the presence of God, stands firm in His mission of salvation for all peoples, the mother-in-law of Simon grasped by the hand and helped up by Jesus from her sickness personifies a true disciple. After being healed, the woman at once began to serve Jesus and His followers. Again, the actual verb used by Mark is egero (to raise up), the same verb to describe the resurrection of Jesus Himself (Mark 14:28). The woman’s simple cure, told in starkest simplicity, becomes a foreshadowing of Jesus’ mission for all humankind. He heals in His power over sin and death; as the Risen One He raises up to new life all who believe in Him.
Alálaong bagá, as Jesus refused to be drawn into the messianic politics of his people wishing for worldly ascendancy over their enemies, His followers too as a community must be most careful about political partisanship. It is the right and duty of every Christian to be politically active and responsible, and the Church must be the Gospel-driven leaven for the transformation of society, never merely a seduced or cowed adjunct to a political party with its vested interests. The breaking-in of God’s reign is precisely against the perennial politics of greed and corruption, the obstruction of justice and the obfuscation of the truth, the blatant violation of human rights and the selfish opportunism of some perpetuating poverty for the many. The politics by sinful humans stand always in urgent need of Jesus’ teaching, healing and exorcism.
Join me in meditating on the Word of God every Sunday, from 5 to 6 a.m. on DWIZ 882, or by audio streaming on www.dwiz882.com.