The previous episode (Mk 1: 21-28) clearly manifests that Jesus liberates humanity from the power of demons. Now Mark shows how Jesus sets people free from the power of sickness (Mk 1: 29-31). Restoration of health and wholeness is a sign of the kingdom that Jesus proclaims. Both these disclose the power of God active in Jesus and manifested in concrete human situations. Here too Jesus acts with authority. In the earlier story his word of power (Mk 1: 25-26) cast out the demon. Here, it is his action that brings healing (Mk 1: 31).
Mark seems to communicate something more by his use of two key phrases in Mark 1: 31.
- “He raised (lifted) her up”
The word ‘raise up’ (Greek: egeiro) in verse 31 is the same word as that used in the New Testament for the resurrection of Jesus (1Cor 15: 4; Rom 6: 4; Acts 3: 15; 13: 37; Mk 14: 28; 16: 6). We can, therefore, see also a symbolic meaning in Jesus’ action of ‘raising up’ the sick woman in Mark 1: 31. Jesus ‘raises up’ humanity paralysed by sin.
- “and she served them”
The fact that she served them shows that the healing is immediate and complete. It also seems to connote that the healing Jesus brings is for serving. She acts as if she is commissioned to serve them. This healing story, thus, becomes symbolic of the believer who is raised from sin and who is commissioned, as it were, to serve others.
We are healed and raised up by Christ through baptism. Its sole purpose is to serve Christ in others. Till we begin to serve we are not fully healed. We ought to manifest that we are a risen community by serving and it is thus that we can proclaim the reign of God among us. In Mark 9: 33-37 and 10: 42-45 the essence of Christian discipleship will be spelt out in terms of service.