Pastor David B. Curtis


Jesus' Power Over Disease & Demons

Mark 1:29-34

Delivered 11/20/2005

Last week we saw Jesus enter the synagogue in Capernaum, and His teaching caused amazement - "And they were amazed at His teaching." Not only did He teach with power, but He also cast out demons. This also caused great amazement as you can imagine. We ended last week with verse:

Mark 1:28 (NASB) And immediately the news about Him went out everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee.

When people left that synagogue, they went everywhere spreading the news of what Jesus had done. They would be saying something like: There was a man in the synagogue who taught as we have never heard the Scriptures taught, and He commands demons, and they obey Him. What is the first thing you do when you see something that totally amazes you? You tell somebody about what you saw. This is what was happening all over Galilee. In a few minutes we'll see the results of the spreading of this good news.

Today we're going to look at verses 29-34. Let's look at the whole section, and then we'll break it down verse-by-verse:

Mark 1:29-34 (NASB) And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon's mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Him about her. 31 And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. 32 And when evening had come, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city had gathered at the door. 34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

After driving out demons from a man in the synagogue, Jesus and the disciples leave the synagogue and go to Simon's house.

Mark 1:29 (NASB) And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

This incident took place in Peter's house, which was located in Capernaum. Tradition says that Peter's house was only about 100 yards from the synagogue. There is a church supposedly built on the spot today. Jesus and His four disciples left the synagogue and went straight to Simon's house. Simon lived there with his wife; her mother; and Andrew, his brother. Now the custom of the day was for family and friends to gather after the morning spent at the Synagogue.

Mark 1:30 (NASB) Now Simon's mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke^ to Him about her.

We could transliterate the Greek from Luke's account to read, "mega fever":

Luke 4:38 (NASB) And He arose and left the synagogue, and entered Simon's home. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever; and they made request of Him on her behalf.

In the ancient world, "fever" was a disease in itself rather than merely a symptom. During the first century there were no miracle pills for fever like aspirin, Advil, or Tylenol. Such an illness might easily have been life-threatening.

Some conjecture that this lady had contracted malaria. Perhaps that was the case - we can only speculate. But whatever it might have been it had laid her out. The phrase "lying sick with a fever" is not quite that calm in the Greek language, rather it is the idea that the fever had so affected her that its physical power over her threw her into the sickbed without any relief in sight. In this case, the "fever" exercised authority over Peter's mother-in-law.

Barclay says, "Peter's mother-in-law was suffering from what the Talmud called 'a burning fever.' It was, and still is, very prevalent in that particular part of Galilee. The Talmud actually lays down the methods of dealing with it. A knife made wholly of iron was tied by a braid of hair to a thorn bush. On successive days this was repeated. Then a certain magical formula was pronounced, and thus the cure was supposed to be achieved. Jesus completely disregarded all the paraphernalia of popular magic, and with a gesture and a word of unique authority and power, He healed the woman."

The English translation seems to suggest that the disciples asked Jesus to heal her. But the Greek makes clear that this was not the case; it was Jesus' idea to heal her. When He heard about the sickness, He took the initiative, approached her, laid His hand upon her, and the fever left her.

An interesting note: Peter had a mother-in-law. Now the last time I checked, you had to have a wife in order to have a mother-in-law. Peter, as well as some of the other disciples, was married. We are told in Luke 8:1-3 that a number of women traveled in the company of Jesus, and some of these would have been the wives of the disciples.

In I Corinthians Paul stated:

1 Corinthians 9:5 (NASB) Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

So Peter was married, which is rather strange in that the Roman church ended up making him a celibate pope.

Notice what the author of Hebrews says about marriage:

Hebrews 13:4 (NASB) Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

The KJV states it:

Hebrews 13:4 (KJV) Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Do you see the difference in these verses? "Let Marriage be held in honor among all..." - I believe the construction here should be treated as hortatory, which means: "exhorting, advising", rather than declaratory. There is no verb "is" in the Greek , so a verb has to be supplied. The KJV understands an indicative, and thus renders it as a statement or affirmation. "Marriage is honorable among all...." But an imperative fits better with the context, which is a sequence of exhortations. The sense, then, is "Let marriage be held in honor among all."

The word "honor" is the Greek word timios, which means: "held as of great price, esteemed, especially dear." How was marriage being dishonored? In what ways were they not honoring marriage? Two ways: The church was being troubled in the apostolic period by advocates of extreme asceticism who regarded marriage as defiling and insisted on celibacy for the attainment of godliness. This is evident from Paul's words to Timothy:

1 Timothy 4:1-3 (NASB) But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.

In the post-apostolic centuries the emphasis on virginity as belonging to the state of Christian perfection was promoted by the Montanist movement, and by such men as the famous Origen of the third century, who had himself castrated under the mistaken notion that he could thereby serve God more devotedly.

But Scripture says, "Let Marriage be held in honor among all..." By this I understand him to mean that there is no group of men prohibited from marriage, not even priests. God says marriage is not only permissible, but honorable. And according to Mark 1:30, even the "first Pope" had a wife.

The meal that was to be eaten after they had left the synagogue was not prepared on the Sabbath day, but on Friday. It was the honor for the leading lady of the home who prepared the meal, to serve the meal, especially when guests were present. However, in this case, Peter's wife's mother was ill and unable to follow the protocol, the manners, and the customs of the day until Jesus took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately she was healed:

Mark 1:31 (NASB) And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.

Touching anyone with fever would have rendered one unclean, according to the Jewish "Halakah" (the body of Jewish law supplementing the scriptural law and forming especially the legal part of the Talmud) that "forbade touching persons with many kinds of fever." But with Jesus, the touch did not defile the healer, but healed the defiled. The effect of Christ's authority over the fever was so powerful that Peter's mother-in-law got up immediately and began to serve Christ as a gracious hostess in the home. There was no need to recuperate in order to regain her strength; the effect of healing was immediate and thorough. Christ's authority over the physical realm was clearly demonstrated.

Jesus could have snapped His fingers from where He sat and healed Simon's mother-in-law. Instead, He came to her, He touched her, held her, and lifted her up. The LORD Jesus is not some far off, far out deity who does not care. He gets up-close and personal in His love for you.

The importance of both the touch of Jesus and the response of service from Peter's mother-in-law is significant, and the disciples would do well to ask themselves what their response should be to the touch of union with Jesus. It should be the same as it was for Peter's mother-in-law: that they rise up and begin to serve Him - that is, a service which springs out of gratitude and not from a sense of duty.

So Mark is showing us that Jesus has the authority to heal disease. Why is that important? Isaiah predicts that the Messiah would heal. So, these events further identify Jesus as the Messiah:

Isaiah 35:3-6 (NASB) Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. 4 Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you." 5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. 6 Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah.

In Matthew's account, after saying that Jesus healed the sick and cast of demons, he alone tells us:

Matthew 8:17 (NASB) in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, "HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES, AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES."

The sentence is a purpose clause explaining the basis of Christ's authority over illness and demons. Here, Matthew quotes from Isaiah 53:4; a passage that very clearly refers to Christ's atoning work for sin. He clearly links Christ with the fulfillment of this Old Testament prophecy.

Jesus gave sight to the blind in order to show that He is "the light of the world" (John 8:12.) He restored life to the dead to prove that He is "the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25.) Similar observations might be made as to those who were lame, or had palsy. Jesus performed these physical healings to teach spiritual truth. Our need is spiritual, not physical. And Jesus is the only one who has the cure for our sin sickness.

Is sickness always the result of sin? No. There is nothing in the passage about sin that Peter's mother-in-law needs to confess.

On this first Sabbath in Capernaum, Jesus has preformed two miracles: cast a demon out of a man in the synagogue and then healed a women who was ill with a fever.

Mark 1:32 (NASB) And when evening had come, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed.

Why did the people wait until after the sun had set to come to Jesus? The people waited until the sun went down so that it would no longer be the Sabbath Day. Sabbath law had become very explicit by the first century. The rabbinical tradition had enumerated hundreds of laws regarding what constitutes work in violation of their Sabbath law. Even tying or untying a knot was considered a desecration of the Sabbath. Even today, Jews are not permitted to enter an elevator on the Sabbath for fear it might set off a spark. A spark is a fire that is prohibited on the Sabbath. The following verse was used to greatly restrict travel on the Sabbath:

Exodus 16:29 (NASB) "See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day."

Jewish religious leaders eventually interpreted this verse to mean that no one could travel more than 2,000 cubits, or about half a mile. However, various other laws were construed to get around such restrictions, such as putting a lunch half a mile from your home the day before. Once you went as far as the normal Sabbath travel law allowed, you could stop, make your "home" where your lunch was found, and then travel another half-mile. Jesus specifically refuted such ridiculous traditions that contradicted the spirit of the Law if not the letter of the Law. The people in Capernaum observed the tradition they had been taught and waited until evening to travel to Jesus. Their zeal was evident in that they brought "all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed."

Jesus compassionately heals the sick and drives out the demons. Mark uses this text to make sure the reader understands that Jesus' work is not isolated to one or two incidents, but that He commanded absolute power over sickness and the demonic realm.

Mark 1:33 (NASB) And the whole city had gathered at the door.

If you visit Capernaum today you will find it a very small town, perhaps a half dozen houses. But at that time Capernaum was the most flourishing city on the lake, the largest city of all. Imagine the sight as Jesus went to the door of Simon's house and saw the crowd of people with sick and deranged men, women, and children. All of these came with a dream that somehow Jesus could heal them. To be sure, Jesus could and did heal their sick, but His main purpose was to bring spiritual healing and wholeness through the gospel (Mark 1:14-15). The miracles were always intended to authenticate His message rather than to make everybody feel better.

Mark 1:34 (NASB) And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

In Jesus' encounter with these demons, we have evidence of Jesus being the Messiah, and those who saw these things that day could only come to that conclusion. They saw the power of God being manifested in the man. By His word, the forces of hell had to retreat. He spoke, and they had to obey. Here was a man who had authority. Here was a man who was the personification of power.

Mark is very careful, as are the other Gospel writers, to make illness and demon possession two separate categories. Even then, as now, some were teaching that all illness and infirmity was due to demons.

That Sabbath day in Capernaum ends with Jesus in the limelight of popularity. Many people were present, the city gathered around Him, He was the center of attention.

Let's talk a little more about demon possession. This is a big issue today, and something we need to have a grasp on.

We need to understand that most of the New Testament references to demon possession appear in the Gospels and represent the outburst of satanic opposition to God's work in Christ. We have no reference to demon possession after the book of Acts, and we don't have much reference to it in the latter half of the book of Acts. We have no reference whatsoever to demon possession in the Epistles, not in any of them. We have no Old Testament reference to demon possession either.

Demon possession seems to be something that happened only during the time of Christ and the apostles for the purpose of manifesting the power of Christ over the demon world.

Ray Steadman puts it this way: "The apostles very seldom mention the direct attack of Satan against human beings. There are a few instances of it, but after our Lord physically left the world there seems to be a dying down of the evidences of demonic activity. These dark powers were stirred up by His presence on earth, but to a degree this faded away after He left, so that in the Epistles you do not get the same concern for demonic activity as you do in the gospels."

I would only differ with him in that in the Epistles you see no demon activity - none.

What about all those today who claim to be casting out demons? Do they fit the Biblical pattern? The exorcisms in the Bible concerned those clearly recognized as possessed. The signs of demon possession in the New Testament include: speechlessness (Matt. 9:33); deafness (Mark 9:25); blindness (Matt. 12:22); fierceness (Matt. 8:28); unusual strength (Mark 5:4); convulsions (Mark 1:26); and foaming at the mouth (Luke 9:39).

Luke 8:27-29 (NASB) And when He had come out onto the land, He was met by a certain man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs. 28 And seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, "What do I have to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me." 29 For He had been commanding the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard; and yet he would burst his fetters and be driven by the demon into the desert.

Notice the supernatural strength he exhibited. This man had been bound with chains and fetters, but he had snapped the chains and torn off the fetters, and no one had the strength to subdue him - a remarkable demonstration of demonic power.

The exorcisms in the gospels and in Acts were not nebulous cases of the demon of drugs, alcohol, or postnasal drip, or nicotine demons like we see today. In his book, "Diary of an Exorcist" Win Worley describes a woman who was possessed by two demons: the demon of "dry hair" and the demon of "oily hair." When she would try to treat her oily hair, the demon of dry hair would take over and vise versa thus tormenting her. Does this fit the Biblical pattern?

You can blame all of your problems and all your sins on demons. You could have the demon of pornography, or lying, or stealing. This seems to be the trend of our day to blame our problems on someone else. We all seem to want to escape from personal responsibility. Earnest Angle is constantly helping people to quit smoking by casting out the nicotine demon. You don't need nicorette gum or the patch, you need an exorcist. It's not your fault you smoke, it's the demons.

This view of demons that is held by many today is no different than that of the Jews of Jesus day. The Jews of Jesus' time superstitiously believed that demons were lurking at every corner. They thought they could find them in rivers, seas, and on mountaintops. Demons were blamed for toothaches, headaches, broken bones, and outbursts of jealousy and anger. By way of contrast to this practice, the response of Jesus and the New Testament writers is very restrained. Demon possession has been used by defense attorneys as the reason why their client murdered someone.

What does the New Testament teach about dealing with demons today? Nothing! Does it tell us to call the exorcist? No! Are we told to plead the blood? No! Don't reduce Christianity to a bunch of hocus pocus. The New Testament teaches very clearly that the devil and his demons have been defeated and destroyed by Christ. They are consigned to the lake of fire. As a point of further evidence that we don't need to deal with Satan or demons today, let me ask you a question: How did Christ deal with demons? How did He have the ability to cast them out?

Matthew 12:28 (NASB) "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

During the incarnation, the humanity of Christ relied on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, He was dependant. When He cast our demons, He did it by the power of the Spirit. When He read men's minds, He did it by the power of the Spirit. What ever He did, He did by the power of the Spirit. He lived in dependence upon the Spirit of God.

Philippians 2:7 (NASB) but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

The word "emptied" is the Greek word kenoo - "to make empty." He emptied Himself of the manifestation of glory and power. He considered the work of love a greater thing than the display of power and glory.

Part of the Kenosis is the sustaining ministry of God the Holy Spirit to the humanity of Christ. This is prophesied in Isaiah 11:1-3: When the son of Jesse would come, the spirit of wisdom and understanding would be upon him. He was constantly filled with the Spirit (John 3:34); His public ministry was of the power of the Spirit (Matthew 12:18; Luke 4:14-15, 18, 21).

So what I am saying is that Jesus cast out demons by the Spirit of God - all of the spiritual gifts were operating in Jesus. One of the spiritual gifts was the ability to cast out demons.

In 1 Corinthians, which is one of the earliest New Testament books written, we have a list of sign gifts. In the other lists there is no mention of these gifts:

1 Corinthians 12:10 (NASB) and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.

The Greek word used here for "miracles" is dunamis, which means power or inherent ability. It is used of works of a supernatural origin and character such as could not be produced by natural agents and means. The Greek word here for "effecting" is energema, which means: "to work in, to be active, or operative." Verse six of 1 Corinthians 12 uses this word in connection of God working, and verse eleven uses it of the Holy Spirit working in the gifts. When put together, dunamis and energema describe the gift as the active operation of the power of God in an individual's life giving inherent ability to perform supernatural works.

I believe that the gift of miracles or power was primarily the supernatural and instantaneous ability to cast out demons, although I would not limit it to that.

Jesus entrusted this same power to His disciples as they went out on their mission for Him. We see the disciples using the gift of power on certain occasions to cast out demons:

Acts 8:5-8 (NASB) And Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing. 7 For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was much rejoicing in that city.

So these gifts were important in the New Testament times. The Apostles and disciples used them to cast out demons. I believe that the Bible teaches that these spiritual gifts ended at A.D. 70.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (NASB) Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

What is "that which is perfect"? This is the crucial phrase in the whole passage. How you interpret verse 8 and verses 11 &12 is all dependent on how you interpret "that which is perfect."

"That which is perfect" refers to the consummation of the New Covenant when the Old Covenant ended, which happened at the coming of Christ in A.D. 70; bringing in the New Heavens and New Earth, which closed the cannon of Scripture.

Just like the manna ceased when Israel entered the land of promise, so spiritual gifts ended when the Church entered the fullness of the New Covenant.

Can we prove that prophecy ended in A.D. 70, and thus all the gifts? I think we can if we take a close look at some Old Testament verses. Let's start by looking at Daniel, chapter 9. In Daniel 9, the 70 years for the Babylonian captivity was just about over:

Daniel 9:24 (NASB) "Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place.

Daniel was told that 70 weeks had been determined on his people Israel and city Jerusalem. By the end of this prophetic time period, God promised that six things would be accomplished. One of the things that Daniel was told would happen by the end of that period was that God would "seal up vision and prophecy." If you have done much study using commentaries, you know that there is little that Bible scholars agree on. That gives great force to this phrase, which has almost unanimous agreement of Bible scholars across the board. The Hebrew commentaries are in agreement on the meaning of "seal up vision and prophecy" -- they say it means: "to give or reveal, it is the process of inspiration," but it's not just that, it also means: "to confirm by the fulfilling of the prophecy." Keil and Delitzsch, highly respected Hebrew authorities, state in volume 9 page 344 that "seal up vision and prophecy" means: "Prophecies and prophets are sealed, when by the full realization of all prophecies prophecy ceases, no prophets any more appear." What does "seal up vision and prophecy" mean? Hebrew scholars agree that it means the end and complete fulfillment of all prophecy.

Even John Walvard, who is Mr. Dispensationalists, says this -- "Probably 'seal up vision and prophecy' is best understood to mean the termination of unusual direct revelation by means of vision and oral prophecy. To seal means that no more is to be added, and that what has been predicted will receive Divine conformation in the form of actual fulfillment."

To "seal up vision and prophecy" clearly means to give prophecy and fulfill it. Daniel's prophecy, then, tells of the time when all prophecy would cease to be given, and what had been given would be fulfilled. When would this be? Daniel's vision ends with the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in A.D. 70:

Daniel 9:26 (NASB) "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

Who is "the prince who is to come," of verse 26? The nearest antecedent for the coming prince in verse 26 would carry us back to the "Messiah the Prince" (verse 25), who was cut off (verse 26). Therefore, Christ becomes the One and only "Prince" in the whole context. The "people of the prince" speaks of the Jewish people who were the ones responsible for the destruction of the city Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70.

So Daniel tells us that his vision ends with the destruction of Jerusalem, which would bring an end to all prophecy. This is exactly what Luke tells us:

Luke 21:20-22 (NASB) "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand. 21 "Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are in the midst of the city depart, and let not those who are in the country enter the city; 22 because these are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

All prophecy was to cease and be fulfilled by the time Jerusalem was destroyed, which happened in A.D. 70. What Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 13, is prophecy will end when the perfect comes; this is what Daniel said hundreds of years earlier. Prophecy will cease at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, when the New Covenant is fully consummated.

So what have we seen? Paul said that prophecy would cease when the perfect comes. Daniel said prophecy is to end at the destruction of Jerusalem, which means that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit have come to an end. The gifts were for the period of the "last days"; when the last days ended, so did the gifts.

Now if the spiritual gift of power ended in A.D. 70, then we must not need it anymore, and the reason we don't need it is because Christ has destroyed Satan and his demons.

There is a lot of confusion today about Spiritual gifts; do you know why that is? It's because they were for the transition period, the last days, and when the last days ended, so did the gifts. This is why so many believers have no clue as to what their gift is, they don't have one.

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