Waiting on the Everlasting One — Isaiah 40:28-31 & Mark 1:29-39

Isaiah speaks a word to those in exile where defeat hangs heavy in the air, uncertainty pervades the ethos of Israel, and optimism yields to cynicism among the people.  Then, Isaiah speaks the following word:

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.

Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted;

But those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength,

they shall mount up with wings like eagles,

they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:28-31).

Pay attention to Isaiah’s claims on behalf of the LORD:

  • God is not limited by time
    (the LORD is an everlasting God).
  • God is not limited by space
    (the LORD is the Creator of the ends of the earth).
  • God is not limited in strength
    (the LORD does not faint or grow weary).
  • God is not limited in thinking
    (The LORD’s understanding is unsearchable).

How about us … are we limited in what we can do?  If so, we know through Isaiah’s word that God is able to help. As we pause this week and remember the Coretta Scottt King we celebrate that a people were willing to lean into a generational struggle on the Lord’s behalf.  When we move beyond the concerns of today and our limited perceptions we are able to trust God “to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

In the fast-paced start of Jesus’ ministry in Mark’s gospel we see a Jesus in action and reflection who in touch with the everlasting God, the Creator of the earth, the unfainting One, the unsearchable One.

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.  Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once.  He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons.  And the whole city was gathered around the door.  And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.  And Simon and his companions hunted for him.  When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.”  He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.”  And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons (Mark 1:29-39).

Jesus is in touch with the unlimitedness of God.  Jesus is not bound by the Sabbath – he heals on the Sabbath and after it’s over.  Jesus is not bound by the synagogue – he heals in the synagogue and next door at Simon’s mother-in-law’s home.  Jesus is not bound by our categories – he heals the sick and the demon-possessed.  To do this he had to spend time with God … even if it meant stealing away at night.

We see the following in this emerging prophet in Galilee:

  • Authority:  Jesus speaks and acts decisively, if not simply.
  • Compassion:  Jesus offers himself to all people.
  • Humility:  Jesus spends time with God to renew his strength.  The Father’s affirmation is all he needs.
  • Vision:  Jesus is focused on his mission.  He quiets the demons, because their words will distract the people.

We see the following in our emerging relationship with this prophet:

  • Our need is met by Jesus (Simon immediately (kai euthus) introduces his sick mother-in-law to Jesus).
  • God’s acts through Jesus (Jesus lifts her by the hand).
  • Our response to God is service (Simon’s mother-in-law works on the Sabbath – she is not bound anymore).

God’s love heals all of who we are – our body, our spirit, and our emotions.  So I ask, are you bone-weary today, are you spirit torn today, are you frustrated by looking for love in all the wrong places?  If so, the doctor is in the house.  The Great Physician is ready to offer a touch that will set you free to joyfully serve others in his name.

A Prayer for Healing:

When we are powerless, Lord; when the day drives us like slaves and the night gives us no rest:  Lord, be our power.

When we are hopeless, Lord; when the days escape swiftly like breath from our lips, and the sun seems always setting:  Lord, be our hope.

When we are loveless, Lord; when our months are pregnant with emptiness and loneliness is the child we bear:  Lord, be our love.

When we have no healing, Lord; when years of bodily strength yield to disease and our souls become the dwelling-place of demons:  Lord, be our healing

If we are enslaved, free us.  If we are restless, fulfill us.  You are our power.

If we are chasing the sun, follow us.  If we are lost in shadows, find us.  You are our hope.

If we are empty, fill us.  If we are alone, face us.  You are our love.

If we are broken, form us.  If we are sinful, forgive us. You are our healing.

You, O Lord, are our healer.

(Adapted from Phyllis Cole and Everett Tilson, “Fifth Sunday after Epiphany,” in Litany and Other Prayers: Year B.)