Saturday, March 9, 2024

Authority over Disease

Jesus did not allow scruples over purity regulations to keep him from healing the sick and delivering the oppressed from demonic spirits. Neither Sabbath restrictions nor Levitical rules on ritual purity were intended to prevent human needs from being met, at least, not if the Messiah of Israel was present and establishing the Kingdom of God.

The more personal nature of the next incident may be the result of Peter recounting it years later to Mark, providing further evidence that Mark compiled his gospel account from Simon Peter’s recollections - (Mark 1:29-39).

Alpine flowers - Photo by Aneta Hartmannová on Unsplash
[Photo by Aneta Hartmannová on Unsplash]

In the story, Jesus does more than simply heal Peter’s mother-in-law. The account in
Mark states that he was “grasping her hand,” and the Greek sentence uses a verb with the sense of “grasp, seize; take hold of.”

In the culture of that day, to touch an unrelated woman was socially offensive, and in Jewish tradition, touching someone who was ill risked contracting ritual purity from him or her. Thus, in addition to physical healing, Jesus was bridging social and religious boundaries.

Though he was no political revolutionary, Jesus did not allow social or religious conventions to thwart him from restoring a member of the covenant people to wholeness, whether physical or religious.


To save a life was more important than maintaining ritual purity, something even the Scribes and Pharisees allowed. But with Jesus, there was something different in his attitude about matters of ritual purity, and this caused friction between him and the Pharisees who were more scrupulous about such things.

After her healing, Simon’s mother-in-law rose and served Jesus and his companions. Mark does not report this fact to teach female subservience to men. The same verb rendered “serve” is used elsewhere in Mark when the angels “ministered” to Jesus in the wilderness after his temptation (diakoneô).

The same Greek verb occurs later when Jesus stated that the “Son of Man came not to be served but to SERVE” and to give his life as a “ransom” for many - (Mark 10:45).

The physical activities of the woman demonstrated how immediate her healing was, and that service to others should follow the restoration of a disciple to wholeness.

The events in the larger passage all occurred in the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus exorcised a demon on the Sabbath day. Though men and women were eager to approach the Messiah to have their physical needs met, they continued to conform to the Sabbath and purity regulations of Judaism by waiting until evening to do so - (Mark 1:21-38).

The Gospel of Mark distinguishes between the healing of illnesses and the exorcism of demons - (“He healed many having various diseases and cast out many demons”), and it does NOT attribute all afflictions to demons or Satan.

After these events, Jesus went out to a “lonely place to pray.” Elsewhere in Mark, he prays at night, in solitary places, and at critical points in his Messianic Mission.

  • Servant or Caesar? - (Satan offered Jesus unlimited political power to achieve his messianic mission if only he acknowledged the Devil as his overlord)
  • Kingdom Herald - (After his baptism, the Spirit drove Jesus to the wilderness to be tested by the Devil. But he overcame and succeeded where Israel failed)