Jesus Makes House Calls!

5th Sunday After Epiphany

By Rev. Steven D. Spencer – Pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church, Salem, Oregon

Mark 1:29–39

Grace, peace and mercy from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen!

The text for today reminded me of one of my grandmother’s sayings. “I was never sick a day of my life until the day I went to a doctor’s office.”  I can remember times when she was suffer with severe asthma and bronchitis. She would treat them with over-the-counter medicine and slippery elm bark.  And when you asked her if she was sick she’d say, “No, just a bit under the weather.” To my grandmother the doctor’s office was place for sick people also a place full of disease. It was no place for her. It was later in that doctor’s office that she found out that her asthma and bronchitis was neither, it was emphysema. She wished she had never gone to the doctor’s office. Don’t get me wrong she and my grandfather saw the doctor occasionally, because he made house calls.

In our text today we see that Jesus makes house calls. There are some important lessons for us to learn from our text today. So please listen once again to verses 29-31 from St. Mark. “And immediately Jesus left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.” So far the text!

I. Assemble Together

We notice in our text that Jesus and the disciples left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew. Matthew 12:8 says: "For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." Did you catch that, “Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath?” Ephesians 5:23 says: “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.”  Jesus is also the head of the church. Jesus is the head of both the Old Testament Church and the New Testament Church. So what is the purpose of the Old and New Testament Church? It’s to unfold the Word of God. To make God’s Word known.  According to the John’s Gospel chapter 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” Who is the Word of God made flesh? JESUS! Where were Jesus and the disciples that day? In the synagogue. The very Word of God, the very head of the church, was in church.

Hebrews 10:23-25 says: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may one stir up one another towards love and good works. Let us not forsake the assembling together, as has become the habit of some, but exhort one another all the more as you see the day approaching.” 

Acts 2:41-42 says: “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.  And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and to prayer.”

The 1st lesson we can learn from our text is that the Lord of the church and His disciples didn’t miss an opportunity to worship with the congregation of God. And we shouldn’t either.

II. Where We Go

“And immediately Jesus left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.” After Jesus and the others were in church where did they go? They went home! So often people think of mission work as something that happens in some foreign land or far away place. They connect the idea of mission with sharing the Gospel with complete strangers. But as we look through Scripture we see something quite different. We see people like Philip in John 1:45: Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Later Philip told Nathanael come and see. Was Nathanael a stranger? Not at all. 

When we come to church we are filled with God’s gifts, His Word, His forgiveness of sin, His means of grace. Through these humble but effective means of restoration we are nourished and prepared to once again enter the mission field. The mission field is not some far away place. Listen to our passage again. “And immediately Jesus left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. Notice where they were, they were at the home of Simon and Andrew. Most likely this was Simon’s home and Andrew was living with him. The reason I say that is that someone else is there. Simon’s mother-in-law! Simon was married and his mother-in-law was in his house. Jesus never told Simon that he needed to be single to become a disciple. God makes disciples of us where ever we are in life. He commissions us where ever we are to be missionaries. The 2nd lesson is this: We are to take the gifts we receive in church and go into our mission field. What are those gifts? God’s Word and His forgiveness!

III. Pray

We also see that the disciples told Jesus about Peter’s mother-in-laws condition. “Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her.” Notice the urgency in which they tell Jesus, “IMMEDIATELY.” St. Paul says in Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” We are to go to God immediately with our request. We are to give it to God and know it’s in His hands. Also the letter of James says: “and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him” (James 5:15). Through your prayers, through your communication with Jesus, people can be restored and forgiven.  When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray He instructed them to pray this way: “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). So our 3rd Lesson is to pray and not to hesitate. Do it immediately. Make your request known to God. But we should always remember to temper our prayers with the words, Thy will be done!

IV. Stewardship Comes Out of Receiving

The disciples had immediately made known to Jesus the condition of Peter’s mother-in-law. “And He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.” Jesus listened to their concerns. I think it’s good for us to remember that Jesus still listens to our concerns. Jesus answered their concerns, Jesus answers ours too. Notice the chain of events. The disciples had been in the synagogue with Jesus. In the synagogue Jesus had preached, He cast an unclean spirit out of a man. The disciples had heard the Lord’s Word and seen spiritual restoration. So it is with you. You hear God’s Word preached and see spiritual restoration every time sins are confessed and absolution is made. Or anytime there is a baptism or the Lord’s Supper is served.

We see what happens to Peter’s mother-in-law. The fever left her and she began to serve them. When you are touched by God’s presence something inspiring happens. And it manifests itself in service. When the disciples hear Jesus preaching and see spiritual restoration they want to help others. So they go to Jesus out of concern for Peter’s mother-in-law. Matthew 10:7-8 says: "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'  "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you have received, freely give.Being touched by God gives us a desire to serve. That service may manifest itself in various ways, sharing the Gospel, praying for others, evening feeding those that need to be fed. But notice the order. Our 4th Lesson is that our service comes out of God’s action toward us. It is a response to God’s love for us and a reflection of His love.

V. Conclusion

I shared in the beginning of the sermon how my grandmother never thought she was never sick. As long as she stayed out of the doctor’s office she was just only under the weather but not sick. It was only after the doctor made a house call that my grandmother finally found out how sick she truly was.

Unfortunately many in our world are spiritually sick. They are spiritually dead in sin and need to know the truth. Fortunately Jesus still makes house calls. He does it through you. Here in His presence He fills you with His gifts and sends you home to be with family, friends and acquaintances. He encourages you to forgive them, to pray for them, to tell them about Him and to serve them in love. For He brings His presence to them in you. He truly does make house calls, through you, In Jesus name, amen!

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN!