"He went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee” (Mark 1:39).
In just 10 verses, Mark shows us Jesus moving from synagogue to house to wilderness and onto the road to take his ministry of preaching, healing and exorcism to all of Galilee. His campaign has begun, and Jesus loses no time in demonstrating his authority over all the forces that have held people captive to fear, disease and dependency. The Reign of God is at hand, and it transforms everything it touches.
We note especially Jesus’ healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. She rises from her sickbed and begins immediately to serve. She and other women who join Jesus understand what it seems to take the other disciples forever to grasp, that the reign of God is not about empowerment but about service.
After a long day of healing and driving our demons, Jesus retreats into the wilderness to replenish his spirit in prayer. The setting reminds us of his confrontation with the Devil, ruler of the world, whose authority he is now defeating everywhere.
Now that his liberating intent is clear, Jesus will meet stiff resistance from each force he is now confronting: the control of religious authority over temple and synagogue; patriarchal authority over women, family and household; and the pervasive evil embedded in the oppression of Herod and the Roman occupation. The stage is set for the rest of the story.
God is everywhere in our lives, helping us to turn back the influences that diminish us in our church, our families and in the larger culture and economy. The reign of God is more powerful than any other influence, but it requires our cooperation and courage. Jesus is everywhere healing and driving out the distorted impulses that wreck community and distract people from their own good. But, as we will see in Mark’s unfolding story, each miracle of restoration begins with faith. Without our faith, even God is excluded from our lives and our world.