Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Mark is a gospel of beginnings. “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ . . .” and of everything that comes next. It is also a gospel that moves quickly from telling us how things start to asking us to carry on. There is much to note about Jesus’ Galilean travels: the places he arrives, the teaching he introduces, and when he takes his leave.
What happens when Jesus moves on? He leaves the synagogue (1:29) and leaves the people there amazed and shook, having seen firsthand the liberating and holy power of God. Had Jesus stayed, how could he have taken Simon’s mother-in-law by the hand, restoring health and strength? By that evening Jesus leaves her side—she already feels well enough to care for her household and their guests—to respond to a town full of brokenness, sickness, and need.
Early in the morning, Jesus leaves the house to attend to his own need for solitude, prayer, and perhaps even the watchful care of angels (remember 1:13?). Almost immediately—as things go in Mark—the disciples track Jesus down and inform him that his absence is conspicuous. It is no stretch to presume they would like Jesus to return with them.
Should it surprise us that Jesus here again opts for leaving? Not if we consider he leaves behind a woman of grace and generosity and a whole community that can now serve and share God’s love. Not if we consider the nearby villages and the need of those neighbors to be healed and held by the Word of God.
And certainly not if we consider that Jesus is not just our Joy and our Lamb, but the Hope and Promise of God’s love for everyone else too, in every other place as well, now and always.
Brian Dixon, pastor, Emmaus Moravian Church