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Mark 1:21-45 – Five Healing Stories Inaugurate Jesus’ Ministry

Summary

In these five healing stories, the evangelist identifies the battle that Jesus will face throughout his ministry, encountering the power of unclean spirits and demon possession.

Analysis

The first story in this cluster of healings takes place in the synagogue at Capernaum and raises the question of Jesus' authority (1:21-28). The unclean spirit knows immediately who Jesus is and what he has come to do: "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit: "Be silent, and come out of him!" The healing of Simon's mother-in-law (1:29-31) and the healing at evening of all who were sick or possessed with demons (1:32-34) lead Jesus to retreat to a lonely place from which he later returns to Galilee again to preach and cast out demons (1:35-39). Jesus' cleansing of a leper brings this series of healings to conclusion as he instructs the leper to show himself to the priest for his cleansing. The cleansed man instead talks freely of his cleansing so that Jesus can no longer openly enter towns, and people come to him (1:40-45).

Mark 1:21-45

The Man with an Unclean Spirit

21 They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ 26And the unclean spirit, throwing him into convulsions and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He* commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

Jesus Heals Many at Simon’s House

29 As soon as they* left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32 That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And he cured 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.

A Preaching Tour in Galilee

35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ 38He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’ 39And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Jesus Cleanses a Leper

40 A leper* came to him begging him, and kneeling* he said to him, ‘If you choose, you can make me clean.’ 41Moved with pity,* Jesus* stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ 42Immediately the leprosy* left him, and he was made clean. 43After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, 44saying to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’ 45But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus* could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

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10 February 2011

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