Mark 1:32-34

Jesus healing many
(Mark 1:32-34)

INTRODUCTION

When people in Capernaum came to know that Jesus healed a demoniac in the synagogue and Simon’s mother-in-law at Simon’s house, all the villagers flooded to the house of Simon along with all the sick and demoniacs to get healing. They came not because they knew that Jesus was the Messiah but to get benefit out of Jesus who could perform miracles. However, Jesus showed his compassion and yielded to their needs. Even after receiving all the benefits from Jesus, later many of them did not believe in him (Matthew 11:23). Our religion should not be based merely on petitions and benefits but on loving relationship with Jesus and his Father.

Bible Text

(Mark 1:32) When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. (33) The whole town was gathered at the door. (34) He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

 Interpretation

(Mark 1:32) When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.

The news of miraculous healing of the demoniac in the synagogue (Mark 1:21-28) and the mother-in-law of Simon Peter (Mark 1:29-31) might have spread like wildfire all over Capernaum. People might have thought of their dear family members, relatives, or friends who were possessed with demons or suffering from sickness. They wanted the same miraculous healings from Jesus for these people.

When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him
The Sabbath was over only by 6:00 P.M. Then only the Jews were allowed to work including carrying the sick (Jeremiah 17:24). So, they were waiting for the Sabbath to be over to bring the sick to Jesus. Since there was no means to monitor hours, like modern clocks or watches during those days, the end of sabbath was determined by seeing three stars on the sky. Once they noticed that, they began to flow to the house of Simon Peter to meet Jesus.

all who were ill
When people came to know that Jesus made an instant healing for the mother-in-law of Simon, they thought that they could get the same kind of healing for their dear ones. So they had confidence in the healing power of Jesus. They got a golden opportunity to get free, effortless and instant healing. So, they brought all who were sick, irrespective of the type of sickness. They were not aware that Jesus was the Messiah. All they knew was that Jesus was a Jewish teacher with miraculous healing power and service mindedness.

or possessed by demons.
Many were eyewitnesses of Jesus healing the demoniac in the synagogue. That was an encouragement for people to bring all the demoniacs in the area to Jesus for healing. The demon possession is specially mentioned separate from other illnesses because the demoniacs needed exorcism.

The demon-possession is presented as a common phenomenon in the gospels. Before the development of scientific clarity on the causes of diseases, the cause of many disabilities were attributed to the evil spirits. Epilepsy (Mark 9:17-27), mental disorder (Mark 5:1-5) and physical disabilities like dumbness (Matthew 9:32-33) and blindness (Matthew 12:22) were attributed to the demons. When the sick persons were convinced that they were possessed by demons, they would produce symptoms of the demon-possessed.

“Unclean spirit” and “Demon” are interchangeably used in the Gospels to refer to supernatural beings who could enter into the life of humans and take control of them (Matthew 12:43-45, Mark 5:2-5). The ancient world, including Jews, believed in the influence of demons. There were different believes on their origin. Some believed that they existed even from the time of creation. Another belief was that they were the souls of the wicked people who have died continuing their malicious deeds entering in others’ bodies. The demon possessed person spoke as demons. The demons caused many physical and mental disorders in the possessed person.

(33) The whole town was gathered at the door.

The whole town
The village of Capernaum had a population of around 1,500 during the public ministry of Jesus. They all gathered with the sick and demoniacs. Some might have arrived there out of curiosity to see this miracle worker and to witness his miracles.

gathered at the door
Since a high population of around 1,500 could not be accommodated at Peter’s house, Jesus had to come out to meet them and heal the sick and cast out demons.

(34) He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

As Son of God, Jesus had the power over sickness and demons. So regardless of the type of diseases or demon possession, he cured them all out of his sympathy towards the sick and in appreciation of the faith and helping mentality of those who brought them there.

not permitting them to speak because they knew him.
Since the demons were spirits, they could easily recognize the divinity in Jesus. They had a tendency to declare Jesus as the Son of God. Though it was true, Jesus did not want them to give witness to him for several reasons:

1. Jesus came not to work in team with demons, but to cast them out. Later, enemies of Jesus could also accuse him that he was casting out demons with their help (Luke 11:14-15).

2. It was not time for Jesus to reveal his identity as the Son of God. Only few people like Simon Peter at Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8:29-30), and Peter, James and John at the transfiguration experience (Mark 9:2-10) could understand the divinity of Jesus during his public ministry. However, he warned them to keep it secret until his resurrection.

3. Jesus wanted the people to come to know for themselves from his word and action that he was the Messiah rather than witness from others. Besides, the popular concept of what and how the Messiah was going to accomplish, was different from that of Jesus. So, he needed time to teach the people on his mission to redeem them from the bondage of Satan and not from the rule of Romans.

4. The hour of Jesus had not come. He was careful not to hasten his death so that he could proclaim the Kingdom of God and invite people for the redemption that he was going to accomplish. The cause of the enmity of the Jewish leaders was that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. So he wanted to disclose his identity and mission slowly.

Message

1. The interest of the people to help their family members, relatives or friends who where sick and their initiative to bring them to Jesus for healing are good examples of philanthropy. Jesus might have appreciated their enthusiasm to help the helpless. Let us also take interest in supporting those who need our care.

2. People brought those who were sick to Jesus for healing not because they knew who Jesus was nor because they loved him. Their motivation was to make use of a golden opportunity for their needs. For many, religion is to seek help of God rather than loving, thanking and worshipping God. Let us approach Jesus out of our love for him.

3. The willingness of Jesus to heal a huge number of sick people at the evening, even after a long day of preaching and service at the Synagogue and Peter’s house, is commendable. How willing are we to help others in the midst of our busy life?

4. Even after receiving all the benefits from Jesus, many people in Capernaum did not believe in Jesus (Matthew 11:23). Our religion should not be based merely on petitions and benefits but on loving relationship with Jesus and his Father.