Lenten Daily Devotional for February 21, 2018
Gospel Reading Mark 1:29-45
29As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
32That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And 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.
35In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38He 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.” 39And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
40A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” 41Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” 42Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, 44saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 45But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.
Popularity has its price. Part of the price Jesus paid for his popularity was his ability to go where the people are. It is always nice to get that personal connection with people in their own town and in their own home. You can discover a lot about someone just by looking around. You’ll discover what countries they have been to, how many children and grandchildren they have, and their taste in music, art, and furniture, either early attic or antique or modern. You can always understand people when you can see where they come from, in context. Popularity now has a price. Jesus can no longer enter a town or a home without causing collateral damage. He tried it once and some folks decided to demolish a roof to get a paralyzed man in front of Jesus in hopes that he would heal him. I do not envy the home owner that day. Fixing a roof is one thing, replacing a roof is another. So instead of going to where the people are-Jesus changes strategy and the people now have to come to him. On the plus side, he can speak to more people. He is not limited to the size of someone’s living room. A hillside now becomes an open-air auditorium with unlimited seating. To some degree he can heal more people, they will just have to wait longer in line. In other words, Jesus can now do more good things for the common good. On the negative side, he will have less and less personal time. It will harder and harder to get away by himself without throwing everybody else into confusion, and he will have to be more intentional to do it. Also, as his popularity increases, so does his presence as a perceived threat to those in power and since we are in Lent, we all know where this is going.
Incredibly loving God, Jesus because more popular for a reason. He loved people where they were and as they were. He helped wherever and whenever he could, and when forced to change, he did so to serve even more. Thank you, God that Jesus out of love, changed his strategy rather than settle for the way he had always done it before. Help me O God to be open to new ways to convey your love to more people. Amen.