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God’s Word for You

Mark 6:53-56 Gospel healing

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Sunday, February 19, 2023

53 Then they crossed over and landed at Gennesaret, and were moored there.

Jesus had told his disciples to go to Bethsaida. That village, also called Bethsaida-Julius, is just uphill from the shoreline, not far from Capernaum. However, Mark omits the landing at Bethsaida (described more fully in John’s account) and talks about the next short trip to the northwestern shore at Gennesaret, which was a stretch of shoreline about four miles long, considered the garden spot of the lake.

A day or two had gone by. Mark says that they “tied up” or moored there at Gennesaret, and so we might imagine that there was a wooden dock of some kind extending out into the water similar to the sort common to our American lakes and rivers. In fact, since the verb is passive, there must have been someone on hand to help them secure the craft.

54 As soon as they got out of the boat people recognized him, 55 and they ran around through the whole region and began to bring sick people on their stretchers to where they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in the villages, the cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the market places, and pleaded with him to let them touch just the fringe of his garment. And all who touched it were made well.

In the boat, Jesus had invited the prayers of his disciples by simply walking out to them. Here on land, he does the same with the people of Galilee. We can be certain that he would not merely heal their infirmities, but that he also fed their spirits, preaching as he always did about the gospel of the kingdom of God, and which Mark testifies to at the beginning of this book (Mark 1:14).

They came to him, drawn by his grace and the news of his healing words. They came hobbling, limping, and even carried on stretchers. They came from the villages and towns, and they came from the countryside farms and their little houses in the hills. They came wanting to be healed, and they even pleaded just to let them touch the fringe or hem of his cloak. Even the people who did nothing more than this were healed. Even those who did nothing at all, who were brought helpless, sightless, voiceless, were healed, for healing from God does not depend on anything from us. He wants us to have faith in him, and he gives to us what he asks from us.

Properly speaking, the gospel is much more than the healing of sicknesses. In fact, the healing miracles are only proof of the power of the one preaching the gospel, and not the gospel itself. These were wonderful, powerful miracles, and their importance and truth should not be dismissed. But what is the gospel?

The gospel is the removal of evil, the evil of sin and its effects, and the gospel is the giving or bestowal of God’s forgiveness. Christ removed our sin by taking it upon himself, the guilt and the responsibility of its punishment: “The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). And John declared: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29,36).

He paid the price and the penalty of our sin: “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment which brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

He also fulfilled the law of God perfectly in our place. He himself said that he came into the world “to fulfill the law” (Matthew 5:17), and Paul declares: “He is the end, the fulfillment, of the law for the righteousness of everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4).

Through Jesus, we are liberated from the curse of the law. “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), and “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

Most of us know someone who has had a hip or a knee replacement these days. This new technology lifts the pain and the curse of unsteadiness and the uncertainty rising from bed, from a chair, or from the seat of a car. I have heard it described as “getting one’s life back.” This is just a snapshot of the joy of having the guilt and curse of sin lifted from us by Jesus. Just as the people of Galilee were healed of their infirmities (and perhaps more than a few hips and knees included), so are we all cleansed of our sin and its effects. Even the darkness of the grave, whether near or far on the horizon for each one of us, is overwhelmed by the delight of the promise of the resurrection, of an end even to death, when we will join our Savior Jesus in heaven, free of all pain, free of all sin, free of anything that ever was wrong, forever. Come, Lord Jesus!

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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