Ministry Life

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Mark 1:29-39 (A Day in the Life of Jesus)

INTRODUCTION: Have you ever wondered what Jesus did with his time on earth? If you could catch a glimpse of Jesus’ DayTimer, what would you see? Well, today’s passage describes for us a day in the life of Jesus. All of the events described in this passage take place within one 24-hour period. (Sounds a little like some TV show starring Jack Bauer, for you “24” fans out there.) Now that doesn’t mean that every day for Jesus was just like this, but according to the gospel accounts, this was pretty typical for a lot of Jesus’ days.

Jesus’ life was all about ministry. And so today we are going to look at this day in Jesus’ life, not just to see what we can learn about Jesus, but also what we can learn about ourselves. As followers of Jesus, how should our lives reflect the ministry life of Jesus?

Specifically, we are going to look at three aspects of Jesus’ life that we find in this passage: 1) his ministry with individuals, 2) his ministry with groups, and 3) his time alone with God.

I. Ministry with individuals (verses 29-31)

So, let’s begin with Jesus’ ministry with individuals. Look at verses 29-31:

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. (Mark 1:29-31)

This is a wonderful little snippet from Jesus’ day. It is the Sabbath Day, which means it was a Saturday. Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John are all following Jesus. They have just left the synagogue where Jesus was teaching the people and then cast out a demon. And now they go back to Simon’s house where Simon’s mother-in-law is in bed with a fever. They tell Jesus about her, and he goes to her and heals her. Immediately the fever leaves her; she gets up and begins to serve them.

Mark tells the story so quickly, so quietly and with such an economy of detail, it is easy to gloss right over it. But there are some important truths tucked away in this passage for us.

    A. Jesus cares for individual people.

One of those truths is that Jesus cares for individual people. Yes, Jesus taught in the synagogues, and he preached to the crowds, but Jesus was always watching out for the individual. Jesus wasn’t just interested in public ministry, but he ministered to people behind closed doors as well.

This is an important truth to remember in a world that often treats people as numbers and where people grow increasingly isolated from each other. Jesus cares for the individual, and that means that he cares about you. Jesus knows everything about you. He knows your name; he knows your thoughts; he knows your wildest dreams and your deepest hurts. Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30) Don’t ever think that God has forgotten you, because he hasn’t. Jesus knows you, and he loves you. Jesus cares for individual people.

    B. Nothing is too big or small for God.

Another important truth from this story is that nothing is too big or small for God. We hear a lot about the big stories in the Bible – Jesus feeding the five thousand, Jesus healing whole villages of people, Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. And it is awesome to think about those things, but it is easy to forget that God cares about the small things, too.

We don’t really know how serious Simon’s mother-in-law’s condition was. But we do know Mark doesn’t make a big deal out of it. And it was just one person. But as soon as they told Jesus about it, he went to her and healed her. In the same way, Jesus cares about the smallest details of your life. Don’t ever think, “Oh, it’s such a small thing, God wouldn’t be interested in that.” 1 Peter 5:7 says: “Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Not just the big things, but all of your cares and concerns. If it is big enough to cause you care, then it is big enough to bring to God. Nothing is too big or small for God.

One of the ways to apply a gospel narrative is to stop briefly and identify with each of the major characters in the narrative. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from each person’s place in this narrative?” If we stop and identify with the disciples here, we see that they told Jesus about Simon’s mother-in-law, and Jesus responded. What does that mean for us? It means we can bring our concerns to Jesus, and he will respond to us too. If we stop and identify with Simon’s mother-in-law, we see that after she was healed, she immediately began to serve Jesus and his disciples. That means that we too should serve Christ and others out of gratitude for what God has done for us.

What about Jesus? You always have to be careful when you identify with Jesus in the story, because there are parts of Jesus’ life that belong to him alone. For example, Jesus had the authority to speak to any illness or condition and bring immediate healing. We are not Jesus, and therefore we do not have that same authority. But because we are called to follow Jesus, there are other aspects of Jesus’ life that we can follow. I may not have the authority to command an illness to go away, but I can pray for a person who is ill. And God in his mercy and grace often brings healing in answer to prayer.

So that’s just a little hint on how to read and apply a gospel narrative. Don’t just read it through and say, ‘That was nice.” Take some time to identify with the various characters and see what you can learn and apply to your own life. But the main thing I want you to notice from this particular story and its place in this particular passage is that Jesus cared for the individual. And so we should care about individual people too. We bring people to Jesus one person at a time, and we reach out and care for people one person at a time. Ministry life never loses sight of the individual.

II. Ministry with groups (verses 32-34)

However, Jesus did not only minister to the individual. He also ministered to groups, sometimes even large crowds. Look at verses 32-34:

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. (Mark 1:32-34)

This is still all part of the same day. Remember, Jesus had taught in the synagogue earlier that day and cast out a demon. And then what happened? Every one went home talking about it, and the news about Jesus spread far and wide. They asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching — and with authority!” (Mark 1:27)

Well, if you had someone sick at home whom you loved, and you heard that there was a healer in town, what would you do? You would bring them to the healer, right? Well, that’s what everyone did! It was the Sabbath, and so they couldn’t bring their sick to Jesus right away, but as soon as the sun went down, they all crowded around Simon’s door, bringing all those who were sick and demon-possessed. And Jesus healed them.

You shouldn’t read too much into that word “many” in the passage. It doesn’t mean “many” in the sense of “some” as opposed to “all.” It just means that Jesus healed many people that night. The “all” who were sick and demon-possessed were not just a few people but many. Many came to Jesus for healing that night, and Jesus healed them.

    A. Jesus can meet all types of need.

There are a couple important truths we can learn from this passage as well. One is that Jesus can meet all types of need. The people who came to Jesus for healing had a variety of diseases. Jesus didn’t weed out the blind or the deaf or the lepers and say, “I’m sorry, that’s beyond me; I can’t heal you.” No, he healed them all. There is not a sickness that Jesus cannot heal; there is not a demon that Jesus cannot cast out; there is not a need that Jesus cannot meet completely and fully.

Stop and think, what is your need right now? Do you need to be forgiven? Come to Jesus, and he will forgive you. Is your mind anxious? Bring your requests to God through Christ, and he will give you peace. (Philippians 4:6) Are you having financial difficulties? Are you worried about providing food and clothing and shelter for your family? Seek God first, and he will provide for you. (Matthew 6:33) Are you having relationship troubles? Ask God what you can do to bring peace and reconciliation into your relationships.

Whatever your need is today, Jesus Christ can meet it. And if you ever doubt that, turn to Philippians 4:19 in your Bible and take hold of this promise: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Jesus Christ can meet all types of need.

    B. Jesus demonstrated his power over sickness and Satan.

Another truth we find in this passage is that Jesus demonstrated his power over sickness and Satan. We face four major enemies in this life: sickness, Satan, sin, and death. One of the wonderful truths of the gospels is that Jesus Christ has defeated them all.

In this passage we especially see his power over sickness and Satan. People came to Jesus with all sorts of illnesses and diseases, and Jesus healed them. People came to him with all sorts of demons, too. I am sure some of those demons were stronger or more deeply entrenched than others. It didn’t matter. None of them were any match for Jesus. If Jesus told the demon to go, the demon had to go. It was not open for discussion.

Some of the demons wanted to scream out Jesus’ identity as they left, similar to the demon in the synagogue we saw in last week’s passage. Too bad. Jesus wouldn’t even let them speak. Can you imagine the demon about to shout something out, and Jesus shakes his head and says, “No.” And the demon goes, “But …” and Jesus says, “No.” And the demon goes, “But …” and Jesus says, “No.” You see, they didn’t have a choice in the matter. Jesus had complete authority over them, and they had to obey everything Jesus said. We should take great comfort in knowing that Jesus has absolute power and authority over sickness, Satan, sin and death.

So, yes, Jesus cared for individuals, but he also knew how to work the crowd. He ministered to groups as well. It is the same way for us. Ministry life involves serving individual people as well as groups of people. Some of us may never stand and teach before a whole group of people, but we can be an active part of God’s family; we can raise our voices in praise and worship along with God’s people; we can serve the church with our gifts. All this is part of ministry.

III. Time alone with God (verses 35-39)

But there is another part of ministry life that if we leave out will quickly kill a life of ministry. And that is time spent alone with God.

    A. Jesus made time alone with God a priority.

Jesus made time alone with God a priority. You know, it had been a busy day. Jesus had taught in the synagogue. He had cast out a demon. He went back to Simon’s house and healed Simon’s mother-in-law. After sunset the whole town came out to him, and he healed their sick and cast out their demons. I don’t know about you, but sleeping in sounds like a real good idea to me after a day like that.

But what did Jesus do?

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

Jesus made time alone with God a priority. Mark doesn’t tell us specifically that Jesus did this every day, but I believe this was his regular custom. Hey, if he did this after an exhausting day of ministry like he just had, I am sure he did it on other days, too.

There is something very important about starting your day with prayer, about giving God first place in your life when it comes to your time and your schedule. Your life begins to change in significant ways when you give God the first part of your day. Psalm 5:3 says, “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:3) Jesus got up very early while it was still dark, and he spent time with God in prayer. He made time alone with God a priority.

    B. Jesus put God before people.

Not only that, Jesus also put God before people. Look at verses 36-39:

Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else — to the nearby villages — so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1:36-39)

Simon and his companions woke up, and Jesus wasn’t there. But the people were. They were excited about having a healer in town, and they had come back for more. So the disciples went looking for Jesus to bring him back. But Jesus said “No.”

Did you catch that? Jesus said “No” to people. Some of us have a hard time saying “No.” But there is nothing wrong with saying “No” to people as long as you are saying “Yes” to God. You have to put God first. Jesus had just spent the first part of his day alone with God in prayer. And during that time he discerned that God was telling him it was time to move on. He had already said Yes” to God, and so it was very easy for him to say “No” to the people who wanted him to stay. And so Jesus and his disciples went to the other villages to preach the good news of the kingdom to them as well. As Jesus said, “That is why I have come.”

This is a very simple but profound principle. You cannot minister in the flesh. True ministry is not driven by people but directed by God. A prayerless ministry is a powerless ministry. Prayer is the engine that moves the vehicle forward. If even Jesus did not attempt to minister to people without first spending time with God, why would we try such a thing?

Ministry life is God-centered, not people-centered. If you are always reaching out to other people but never spending time with God, you will soon burn yourself out and find yourself unable to minister. You have got to go to God first. Jesus ministered to individuals and the crowds, but first he spent time alone with God.

CONCLUSION: Now, you may be wondering, “What does all this have to do with me? I’m not a pastor. I’m not called to ministry life.” Actually, you are. As followers of Jesus, we are all called to ministry life. Pastoring is one way to do ministry, but we are all called to serve God and others wherever God has called us – whether at school or at home or in the business world.

We are all called to ministry life, and as followers of Jesus, his priorities should be our priorities. So what were Jesus’ priorities? Jesus put God first, people second, and himself last. And therefore, so should we.

Isn’t that what the greatest commandment says? When someone asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment, he answered:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30-31)

So here is a simple set of priorities for you to adopt in your life: Jesus, others, you. That is how you live a life of ministry. And if you take the first three letters of those priorities — Jesus, Others, You – what do you get? J.O.Y. = joy! Ministry life when done right is not a burden. Ministry life grows out of a love for Jesus that spills over into the lives of others and ultimately brings you joy. The secret to a joyful life is ministry life. Jesus modeled it for us. Let us follow his example.

© Ray Fowler

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