New Amsterdam Let Us Go On
Jane Shelton, CRE
Fifth Sunday After Epiphany
February 7, 2021
Today we pick up following Jesus having cast out unclean spirits while in the synagogue, indeed having performed his first miracle.
Upon leaving the synagogue, Jesus, James and John enter the house of Simon and Andrew where they find Simon’s mother-in-law in bed with a fever, and when Jesus learns that she is ill, he went to her, takes her by the hand and lifts her up. Upon being made well, Simon’s mother-in-law begins to serve them.
Through the evening Jesus continues healing throughout the whole city as they came to the door of Simon and Andrew’s home. I love the way it is noted here that he heals the “whole” city. He doesn’t leave anyone untouched who desires to be healed.
I can only imagine what this scene would have looked like with people pushing and shoving to be able to catch a glimpse at the sight of the healing going on at the door. I mean, just imagine for a moment that Jesus was at your home, and everyone in the city of Valdosta were coming to be touched by him. Can you imagine the gathering, the awe of the scene before you, and the joy that surely must have followed?
Then in the early morning, Jesus leaves the house to pray. And in the darkness of the morning, he seeks a deserted place, a quiet place, to pray.
Of course, as it is with any of us who try to find a place of solitude, it is often short-lived, and it is the same for Jesus.
Simon and his companions tell him everyone is searching for him. But Jesus doesn’t say, okay, let’s go back, no Jesus says, “Let’s 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.”
Jesus has healed those in the city of Simon, so he doesn’t need to go back to be praised. He doesn’t need to return to receive an award, no Jesus is laser focused on his mission to fulfill God’s purpose in the world.
I remember a cold winter day when I was about twelve years old, my Daddy was summoned to South Carolina where his sister was in the last days of her life, having battled leukemia the last few years.
We were not down the road 30 minutes from our home when snow flurries appeared, and of course being from South Georgia, I was very excited to see the flurries, but I could see the concern on my parents’ faces who knew what this meant for the drive ahead.
The further north we drove, the more the snow fell, and as we watched cars spin off the road, I began to realize the dangers we faced being on the road, but my father drove on at a safe speed.
As we arrived into Charleston, reaching our last turn before the hospital, the light ahead of us turned red, and my Daddy, took his foot off the gas, and lightly tapped the brake, but the car kept crawling forward on the snow until we came to a stop in the middle of the intersection. Thankfully, there were no other cars coming, and we safely made our way through the intersection and on to the hospital.
Arriving late in the afternoon, after a long day on the road, my parents left me in the hospital lobby while they visited with my aunt, and I entertained myself by watching the snow continue to fall outside the big glass floor to ceiling windows, watching in awe as this was the most snow I had ever seen, it was magical.
But when my parents returned, and we were headed out the door to find a hotel for the night, the hospital security guard, asked, “Where ya headed?” to which my Daddy replied, “Going to get a hotel for the night.” The security guard replied, “Sir, I know it’s late, but you might be signing your death warrant if you try and leave and drive out there tonight. We’ve had several accident victims who have already been brought in this evening into the emergency room, and I would hate for you and your family to be one of them.” And he continued, “I know this hospital lobby isn’t too comfortable, but it might be your best option tonight.”
So there in the safety of the hospital lobby, along with other visitors, we stayed. Nurses appeared with blankets and pillows to make our stay a little more comfortable, and through the night we watched doctors and nurses being brought in by jeep. Being twelve years old, I was in total awe, and could barely sleep at all.
The next morning, I was awakened by one of my cousins, and my parents headed back upstairs to visit with my aunt where they were in and out for most of the day, and I continued to entertain myself, watching the sun slowly melt the snow which was disappearing little by little.
Indeed by the time we were headed back home late that afternoon, most of the snow was gone. When we got into the car, I took my usual place in the back seat and waited for the car to go into gear, but instead, I heard the sobs of my Daddy, the first time I had ever seen him cry, and not knowing what to do, I instinctively reached over the seat and touched him on the shoulder, as my mother reached over and touched his arm.
The power of touch. In that moment, in the moment of my Daddy’s pain, knowing he would not see his sister alive again, the power of touch was all that my mother and I had to offer. And looking back now, I realize that in that moment, we were the touch of Jesus.
We never know where we will have to travel to offer the healing touch of Jesus to lift someone up. I’m sure my parents had done the same in my aunt’s hospital room. It was what the security guard had done, as well as the nurses who showed up with pillows and blankets for those of us hold up in the lobby.
For us, it may be here in this church, it may be someone in our homes or in our community, or a neighboring town. It may be in a neighboring state or even a neighboring country, and one thing we can be assured is that wherever we have to travel, Jesus will be there with us also.
Jesus began healing in the synagogue, and from there he traveled to the home of those he knew where he took the hand of someone who needed wholeness and he lifted her up. And she began to serve them….she didn’t lie back down for a little more rest, no she was lifted up and began to serve her people and Jesus. There is no doubt that Simon’s mother went on, rather than choose to remain in her place in the bed after being healed.
Then in the dawn of a new day, Jesus leaves the house and goes out to a deserted place to pray. Scripture doesn’t tell us what Jesus prayed for that morning, perhaps it was meant only for him to find solitude to commune with his Abba Father, or maybe it was for strength or direction, or maybe it was that the disciples would come looking for him, and maybe it was for all of the above.
What is important, however, is what happens next when Jesus says, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns so that I may proclaim the message there also, for that is what I came to do.”
So I ask myself and you, how far have you traveled to be with someone who needed to be touched? Someone who needed to be lifted up, not just physically, but also spiritually? Are we doing what Jesus showed us to do, remembering there are no bounds to where we may have to travel?
In a world full of pain and hurt; a world where there are those who are faint and weary from persecution and genocide, those powerless to stop destruction by evil that creates violence and pandemics, there are plenty of people who need the healing touch of Jesus, and for some people, we may be the only Jesus they ever see. Let US go on with the good news of Jesus Christ.
*Cover Art https://wheelsms.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/jesus-hand-reaching-ours-pp-posterized.jpg