Mission, Ministry and Mental Health

“As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all who were ill and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases.”

Mark 1:29-34

What an exciting and exhausting passage of scripture this is!  Jesus, and a few new disciples, are in Capernaum and have just left the local synagogue. Two of these disciples, Simon and Andrew, lead Jesus down the street and welcome him into their home; their small and busy household.

Why small and busy?

Well, Simon and Andrew are brothers, but Simon is slightly older and he is married, he has a mother-in-law, so he might be around the age of twenty (or even younger).  They have a shared home. There is, at the very least, Simon and his wife, maybe a child, his mother-in-law, and his younger brother, all living together in what was likely to be a small house.  You see because, when Simon and Andrew were first introduced, they were fishing (Mk 1:16), but they weren’t working with boats or hired hands, they couldn’t afford such things, instead all they owned were nets that they used along the shoreline.

Simon and Andrew were the very definition of the working-poor.

Flash forward a few days, and now these brothers have left fishing behind to follow this rabbi, and they’ve just returned home from Saturday synagogue where there was a startling confrontation between Jesus and a member of their congregation (a corporate exorcism of sorts).  As a result, word had spread and people throughout the town were talking about this rabbi who had divine power and authority to heal and exorcise unclean spirits.  On top of that, Simon’s mother-in-law had been ill, but upon entering the home, Jesus’ presence and power had healed her, and now she was preparing a meal for them.

I mean, what a whirlwind of activity!  What wonderful and exciting chaos!

Not to mention the fact that, now there was a crowd of people outside their small house, because everyone is asking to see Jesus!  Everyone is asking Jesus to help them, heal them, and save them from spiritual and physical afflictions. What an incredible scene.  What a wonderful, miraculous, and exhausting depiction of mission and ministry.  And so, it should come as no surprise that with the very next verse we’re told:

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35

Very early the next morning, after a long and exhausting day of ministry, Jesus stepped away for a special time of solitude and prayerful renewal.  After a full day of loving God and loving others, Jesus took the time to love himself. His respite wasn’t earned, it was essential. His time away wasn’t well-deserved, it was ingrained in his DNA.

Even though Jesus’ ministry, the pronouncement of his kingdom come (Mk 1:15), the intersection of the divine and daily, had been successfully launched – even though his number of followers were growing, his teachings were trending, and socio-economic barriers were being broken – even though he had confronted demonic and divisive influences in the life of a congregation and brought healing and wholeness to this town – Jesus still knew he needed to step away.

No amount of success or momentum in ministry could stop him from taking care of his own spirit, his own health and wholeness. Right from the get-go, Jesus knew he could not carry on caring for others if he did not take the time to care for himself.

The only question is: Do you know this as well?  As a disciple, as a follower of Jesus, are you following his example?  Do you know what it means to love God and love others and love yourself, in the right way?

Adam Kline  |  Intercultural Engagement Team
[email protected]