In my last post, I suggested that Mark 1:29-39 was a proto-Gospel, a small window narrative that illustrates how Jesus comes into relation with us and has us participate in the power of the kingdom that eventually raises him from the dead, and will raise us on the final day. But the nagging question is HOW this relationship is established.
Let me put it another way: are we just rambling here? Speaking a bunch of theologically consistent (I hope…gulp!) talking points so that we feel we have sufficiently tied all the loose ends of Scripture? Is it enough to assert that this passage is a proto-Gospel only to move on to more interesting topics of interpretation?
I want to say no, and I want to say that because no matter how beautiful the previous points were about how healing points to resurrection, resurrection to newness of life, newness of life as freedom from bondage to sin and death, none of this matters if those realizations take place in a vacuum. In other words, how do we stand in relation to the one who lifts us from death into life? How is this new found peace with God expressed to us and for us?
It is here that Mark 1:31 is beautiful in all its brevity: “He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.” He took her by the hand. Here at a sickly mother-in-law’s bedside on a lazy Sabbath afternoon when, according to the Law, he ought do no work like lifting a sick woman from a bed, Jesus comes and stands next to her and takes her by the hand and lifts her from sickness and into life.
What this simple gesture shows us is that at the heart of our own healing and restoration in Jesus is a Savior who is personal. The Jesus who heals Simon’s mother-in-law and has taken us up into himself is a Savior who longs for contact with each and every one of us — tender, intimate and compassionate contact — including all that we are. All of it, from sniffles all the way up to deliverance from our broken relationship with God, Jesus takes it all on as he takes us by the hand and mends us, puts it in the right so that we might have life. Just as we are each tender towards our little ones or our parents or some other loved one when they are sick, coming and hovering there at their bedsides, there is a tenderness here that speaks volumes of God’s love.
In a nutshell, we come as close here to the pastoral heart of Jesus as we do in the shortest verse of the Bible: “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) To be healed by Jesus and raised into new life in the promise of the resurrection necessarily means that we come to know the very heart of God, a heart that longs for fellowship and love.