“And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed 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.” Mark 1.29-34
Americans spend billions per year on pain. From headaches to fevers, we take no prisoners when it comes to our own prison of pain. We avoid it like the plague (no pun intended).
In this short episode in the life and ministry of Jesus, we see him in the fishing village of Capernaum healing lots of people. This passage teaches us two things about Jesus: (1) he cares about your pain and suffering; and (2) he wants to do something about it.
Read the passage again. Did Jesus blame anyone for their pain? Did he say, “Well Yusef, that’s what happens when you don’t take care of yourself…I’ve always told you to wear a seatbelt when riding a camel!” Did he shake his head in silent disapproval? Did he turn anyone away? Of course not.
This passage strikes home that Jesus sees your deepest hurts. He knows what you are going through.
When we are suffering, one of the worst feelings is when (a) you can’t put into words how you really feel because the hurt is so deep and complicated, and (b) you feel wholly isolated by the hurt because no one understands completely what you’re going through. This is the prison of pain—and we’ve all been there without any chance of parole.
Until Jesus comes…
Jesus comes to this town as if to say with one voice: “I see your suffering–and I care! Please believe me when I say that I WANT to do something about it.”
But you say, “I’ve run to Jesus in my prayers over and over again—and my pain is still here. The loneliness doesn’t go away. And no one seems to understand what I’m going through…”
Notice something in this passage that is easy to miss. Does it say that Jesus healed all the people? Upon a closer look we see that he healed “many” of the people.
That may seem cruel to us—why not heal them all? Why not wipe every disease and flesh-eating bacteria off the map? Why not wave his hand over the entire town—perhaps when everyone is sleeping—so they would all wake up healthy? Why not do this for the entire region? Why stop there—he’s on a roll! He might as well heal everyone in the Middle East! And on and on it goes…
But that’s not how Jesus does things. Again, we see a familiar pattern unfolding in Mark: Jesus doesn’t do things the way we would.
And in our pain, we cry out, “Why!!!!!????”
Yes, Jesus cares about your pain. Yes, Jesus wants to do something about it. But sometimes the greatest healing is not taking pain out of the formula of your life—but adding another variable to your life—a variable that changes everything.
This passage ultimately assures us that in our pain—Jesus is present. In our loneliness and suffering we are not alone. He knows how we feel—and yes, he suffers with us. The God of the Universe enters our suffering with us.
Think of it this way: Jesus went to the cross and suffered beyond any measure of our experience and understanding—so he could enter into our current suffering with his presence and life sustaining Spirit. On the cross, Jesus was cut off from God in his suffering—so you and I would never have to be cut off in our suffering.
This means that sometimes he will heal us physically. But sometimes he heals in other ways—by sharing in the pain and sorrow with us. Remember, our lives our not just for this side of eternity. We are eternal beings—created for eternal life with God. And one day on the other side, perhaps we’ll look back and forever be comforted to see how Jesus was with us in our pain and suffering we experienced in this life.
One last note. It’s easy to read this episode and get the impression that the greatest thing that happened to this town was Jesus’ healing of so many people.
But no—that’s only a surface understanding that will lead to disappointment (i.e. “Why doesn’t he heal ME?!”).
Perhaps the greatest healing this town experienced was the eternal presence of the living God who came in real flesh and bones to walk among them…to enter their reality…and to forever change it by his.
With Jesus your reality cannot stay the same. Rest in this truth my friend, just rest.
1. Why didn’t Jesus heal everyone in the world at one time?
2. Why does Jesus allow pain and suffering? Could it be that they are tools in his hands to help pry open the dark corners of our hearts to experience more of his love?
3. In your suffering right now, how does the presence of Jesus change your reality?