Mark 1:29-39

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

The energy of this story is a continuation of the story of the exorcism of the man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue. The healing of Simon’s mother-in-law is the least dramatic of all of the healings in the Gospel of Mark but it is for that reason particularly significant. Jesus and his four disciples left the synagogue on this big day, the first day of Jesus' ministry, and entered the house of Simon and Andrew. Simon's mother-in-law,who apparently lived with Simon, was in bed with a fever. Jesus goes in, takes her by the hand, and the fever leaves her, and she serves them dinner. This is Jesus’ first act of healing and it is a sign of Jesus’ concern for even small illnesses and his authority over them. Not only then does he cast out demons, but he also heals those who are sick.

That evening, they bring to him all the people in the whole town who are sick with various diseases and who are possessed with demons. This is a story of great enthusiasm and joy at the new possibilities that Jesus brings. And the key word is the Greek word,euthus, “immediately.” Mark uses the word three times in the story of the exorcism (1.21,23, 28) and twice in this story (1.29, 30). Unfortunately, the NRSV and NIV translators,none of whom are storytellers, decided it was redundant and left it out of these two stories (1.21-34), sometimes translating it as “as soon as” or “at once.” (NIV has“immediately” in 1.30) The impact of the frequent repetition of euthus in these initial stories (also in 1.12, 18, 20 where it is translated in the NRSV) is to create a sense of action and immediacy. I would suggest that you put “immediately” back into this story and tell it with gusto. It is the storytelling equivalent of an action movie’s fast-moving scenes. This story is the climax of Jesus’ first day in which he has gone into action. The story ends with Jesus healing many who are sick and he casting out many demons. In this episode, Mark makes it explicit that the unclean spirits are demons (1.32, 34 twice) that Jesus casts out.

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