“A Day in His Life”

Kurt Jacobson
6 min readFeb 4, 2024

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February 4, 2024

Mark 1: 29–39

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘Let 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.’ And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

“Life In A Day: The Story of a Single Day on Earth” was a featured You-tube based documentary in the 2021 Sundance Film Festival during the period of the pandemic when vaccines were just being rolled out. Directed by Kevin MacDonald, “Life In A Day” was a gigantic undertaking, taking 324,000 hours of same day footage from 192 countries and distilling it into 87 minutes.

Throughout the film the impact of Covid-19 is reflected in eerily empty city streets, trains with no passengers, an individual disinfecting an outdoor play area, face masks, and a dizzy kaleidoscope of Zoom call participants striving to stay connected.

Macdonald’s goal was to underline the fact that life goes on. Even in a global pandemic, there are meals to be cooked, birthdays to celebrate, disappointments to endure and joys to share. Children come screaming into the world, dogs sniff around in the great outdoors, livestock is fed, crops are sown, the dead are buried and the future still holds promise.

We get a day in the life of Jesus in this passage from Mark who provides us the opportunity to follow Jesus around for twenty-four hours, observing what he does, says and what he prioritizes. It begs the question: what we can learn if we walk with Jesus through a day of his life?

As the day opens, Jesus is leaving the synagogue after Sabbath worship. He enters the home of his friends Simon and Andrew, and spends the rest of the day with them. Assuredly, Jesus lingers there, blessing ordinary time and honoring the home as a place where sacred and holy work often occurs to move the reign of God forward and deeper into human life.

Have you thought of your home as a place where sacred and holy meet and the reign of God moves forward?

Homes regularly provide the setting for Jesus as he brings the reign of God to us. Jesus’ first miracle in John is home-based as he turns water into wine at a wedding party; he raises Jairus’s daughter in her home; he transformed the despised tax collector Zacchaeus by becoming his houseguest. In the places we call home, holy things happen and the reign of God moves forward.

It seems that Jesus delights in the domestic, while we humans have typically defined church buildings, cathedrals and temples to be official sacred spaces. While they often inspire with awe and reverence, Jesus never did his amazing work in a church. He did so in spaces we consider familiar and ordinary.

What would it be like for us to honor our homes as Jesus honors Simon’s, to elevate our living spaces as sites for the sacred?

Back to a Life In A Day of Jesus, he heals. Getting word that Simon’s mother-in-law is bedridden with a fever, Jesus takes her by the hand, lifts her up and immediately, the fever leaves her body. She is restored to health.

News spreads quickly so by “that evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. Mark tells us again Jesus cares for them as a compassionate healer, curing many. His first miracle opens a floodgate.

“The problem with miracles,” Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “is that it is hard to witness them without wanting one of your own. Every one of us knows someone who is suffering. Every one of us knows someone who could use a miracle, but miracles are hard to come by.”[1]

Notice though that in this day in the life of Jesus, he heals “many” — not all. He casts out “many demons” — not all.

The “not all” does not deter him as he still touches everyone who reaches out for help, because touch in and of itself is an instrument of hope and healing. He loves without measure and he does not look upon illness and demon possession as punishments from God.

Instead, Jesus offers the sick and the broken a steady presence, a warm embrace, and the good news of a kingdom that is coming — a kingdom without sickness, sorrow, or fear. And his offers are enough.

Earlier I posed the question: what we can learn if we walk with Jesus through a day of his life? We might not miraculously cure the sick or mend broken relationships. But perhaps spending our days as Jesus spent his means living graciously and compassionately in this vast and often troubled human life. To offer the comfort of our steady presence to those who suffer. To create and to restore community, family, and dignity to those who have to walk through this life sick, weak, and wounded — without cures. And to make sure that no one dies abandoned and unloved.

After Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law, she resumes serving. In that day, women were household managers. They provided for their families in ways we would consider traditional. This woman now healed, immediately returned to serving. She served Jesus in her home.

Insofar as we are invited to heal, we are also invited to free others for the service of God. We are invited to pay attention, to notice, and to bless the gifts and abilities of those around us. Like Jesus, can we spend our days as liberators, commissioning others to serve in gratitude and love?

As the day in the life of Jesus ends, it is now morning and we find Jesus praying. “While it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” We know from other accounts that prayer was one of Jesus’s daily practices: “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). “After he had sent the crowds away, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray; and when it was evening, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23). In a spiritually rooted life, Jesus finds strength and vision. Despite the crowds coming to him and his desire to compassionately heal all, he valued the discipline of time alone for prayer, rest, reflection, and meditation.

In a world bursting with desperate needs, Jesus understands the tension between compassion and self-protection. Jesus lives with this every day and he also knows the need for rest and solitude. Despite entire towns coming to him, he feels no shame in retreating when he needs a break. What is the lesson for us who live in a culture that values striving, producing, and busyness?

Finally, Jesus moves on, leaving Simon’s house so that he can take the good news of God to other towns and homes, despite the fact that his disciples interrupt his prayer time to tell him that “everyone” is still searching for him. There are compelling reasons for Jesus to stay where he is. But his response is to set a boundary and move on in keeping with his sense of mission and timing.

Throughout this day in the life of Jesus we have seen him holding in productive tension calling, timing, and need. Might we trust that for us doing what we can in trying situations and walking away is sometimes enough? Do we see in Jesus the value of establishing and honoring healthy boundaries? We have the freedom to sculpt the hours that comprise the days that make up our lives. So, who and what directs our decisions? The day in the life of Jesus provides the starting point.

The ways we spend our days is how we spend our lives. May we, like Jesus, spend them well.

[1] Barbara Brown Taylor, Bread of Angels, pp. 136–137

Images:

deadline.com/video/life-in-a-day-YouTube

“Christ healing Peter’s mother-in-law” from Interpreting the Silence

City of London Corporation; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

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Kurt Jacobson

Author of “Living Hope” & “Welcoming Grace.” Lutheran preacher (retired) but still writing to inspire and aim for a world of mercy, love and respect.