Tag Archives: Ephesians 6

February 8, 2015 (Year B Epiphany 5)

Mark 1:29-39

Last week, in the section of the gospel just before this, Jesus taught with authority in the synagogue. As the people marveled at Jesus’ teaching, a man with an unclean spirit cried out, saying that they knew who Jesus was—the Holy One of God—and asked if Jesus was going to destroy them. Jesus told the unclean spirit to be quiet and come out of the man. The unclean spirit obeyed Jesus; Jesus is more powerful than demonic forces.

Today’s gospel reading picks up immediately after what happened in the synagogue. In Simon and Andrew’s house, Jesus was told about Simon’s sick mother-in-law. A fever, sometimes even with modern medical intervention, is serious. Bolstered by what they had experienced earlier in the day, the disciples trusted that just as Jesus had healed the man with the unclean spirit, he would heal Simon’s mother-in-law. Jesus reached out to her, lifted her up, and healed her. She was able to return to her role in the household—to care for her family and guest. She was able to serve, which is what disciples of Jesus are called to do.[1] While we understand disease processes differently today, there are some dis-ease, or dis-harmony, that need Christ’s touch for healing. From what dis-ease or lack of harmony do we need Jesus to heal us so that we, as Church, can rise and enter into the ministry to which we are called?

At the end of the Sabbath day, at sunset, the people who had seen Jesus’ authority over unclean spirits earlier in the day now brought the sick and demon possessed to him for healing. Jesus healed the sick. He silenced then cast out the demons. Sickness prevents people from fully participating in community. Demons isolate, oppress, and seek to separate people from God and community. While we normally don’t talk about demons and demonic possession, we do recognize forces of evil. These evil spiritual forces are the enemy of God’s mission in the world. Jesus demonstrated his power to defeat these enemies, which by the way, are not people but the spiritual forces that disrupt relationships.[2] Because Jesus has already defeated these enemies, in our baptismal vows, we “renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God.” We “renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God.” And we “renounce all sinful desires that draw [us] from the love of God.”[3] What evil powers, spiritual forces of wickedness, or sinful desires do we, as Church, need to renounce so that Jesus can free us?

After a time of prayer, Jesus went throughout the region, proclaiming the message of the gospel and casting out demons. Those who listen to Jesus’ message and trust him are healed and restored to community. In our baptismal vows, we say that we trust Jesus as our Savior, put our trust in his grace and love, and obey him as our Lord.[4] What stories of God’s grace and love, of God’s healing and restoration do we, as Church, need to remember so that we, with God’s help, can more fully live into our baptismal life?[5]

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[1] Pierre Simson, “Reconciliation in the Making: A Reading of Mark 1,14-3,6.” AFER 17, 4 (1975): 197.

[2] This is an allusion to Ephesians 6:12. For this verse in context, see Ephesians 6:12-18.

[3] 1979 Book of Common Prayer (BCP), 302.

[4] BCP, 302-3

[5] That is, to “continue in the teaching of the apostles and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers”; to “persevere in resisting evil” and “repent and return to the Lord” when we sin; to “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ”; to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving [our] neighbor as [ourself]”; and to “strive for justice and peace among people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” BCP, 304-5.