URC Daily Devotion 24 January 2024

St Mark 3: 1 – 12

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him.  And he said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Come forward.’  Then he said to them, ‘Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent.  He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. Jesus departed with his disciples to the lake, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him;  hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon.  He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him;  for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him.  Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, ‘You are the Son of God!’  But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.


At the time of writing, we are in the midst of Mental Health Awareness Week, so the words of Verse 11 “Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” jump out at me.
Not only was Jesus breaking tradition by healing on the Sabbath, but he was also dealing with issues of mental health.  To be possessed by a demon, to have unclean spirits, often meant there was something wrong with you.
The topic of Mental Health has become a huge issue since the pandemic and millions of people are affected every day.  While we are aware that everyone has an “off” day where things look black and the duvet inviting, for some, that is every day.  To even get out of bed is an achievement.  But now we have come to understand it is not demon possession or spirit infestation, but a genuine medical condition that requires support, understanding and yes, sometimes healing.  The fact that the spirits recognised who Jesus was shows the power of healing, of being made whole again.  To suffer with mental health issues, whether that be depression, anxiety, or physical manifestations such as eating disorders is to feel isolated and less than human.  To receive care and understanding is a way towards feeling whole again – that there is not something “wrong” with you so you need to keep away, but that there is something different about you that needs understanding.

Jesus did not discriminate his healing only to those who were physically ill.  Nor should we.


Lord, so often we see mental health issues as being “all in your head” and not real.  Open our eyes to the reality, so that through care and understanding we can empower those who struggle to feel whole again.  Help us, we pray, to show love and compassion to all without prejudice.  You broke tradition by healing on the Sabbath, help us to break the stigma and care for all who are in need.  Amen.

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