Today, let’s look at the time Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Once again, I am combining three separate books to get a more comprehensive reading:
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. (Mark 1:29-31)
At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one,he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah. (Luke 4:40-41)
This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
“He took up our infirmities
and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:17)
Remember from our last study, Jesus was in the synagogue teaching when a demon possessed man interrupted his teaching. You can read about it here. Now the service is over and Jesus and his disciples head to the home of Peter’s mother-in-law for a traditional Sabbath meal. You can insert your jokes about going from a demon possessed man to your mother-in-law here if you’d like, lol. But for Peter this was no laughing matter because his mother-in-law was sick. Really sick. It says she, “was in bed with a fever.” It is important to note several things here. First, Luke (who was a physician and would know about such things) says in his version of events that she had a “high fever.” Second, the verb “was” in bed indicates that this was an ongoing thing, that she had been sick for some time. Keep in mind a high fever is dangerous, especially without the use of modern medicine to control it. As soon as Peter learns that his mother-in-law is sick, he told Jesus about her. I love how Mark captures the healing. he simply says, “So [Jesus] went to her, took her hand and helped her up.” We see that Jesus’ touch is enough to heal. It doesn’t say he prayed, it doesn’t say he needed to anoint with oil, He simply touched her. I’m not saying these things are bad, I’m just observing how Jesus did it. I find something else interesting about how he healed her. He didn’t say, “Your sins are forgiven,” meaning that sometimes sin makes people ill. When this happens the sin must be forgiven before healing can happen. This is the case in the story of the paralyzed man found in Luke 5:17-26. But we see in the case of Peter’s mother-in-law that sometimes people get sick for reasons other than sin and demon-possession. I believe that all pain and suffering, that is not the result of demon-posession and sin itself, is caused by the effect of sin in the world. Once sin entered the world there was a huge rift in the normal order of things and both the physical world and the spiritual world suffered from it. That’s a whole separate Bible study though. Anyway, back to Peter’s mother-in-law… after Jesus heals her she isn’t just better, she is fully restored to her former strength. We see this in that she gets up and begins to get dinner ready.
We are going to continue by looking at the passage that immediately follows the one we just discussed. Jesus and his disciples have eaten their Sabbath meal and the sun has set. This is an important detail that Mark mentions. Sabbath ran from sundown Friday night to sun down Saturday night. When Luke says, “At sunset” he is telling us that the Sabbath is over and the people begin coming to Jesus. Why is this important? Because healing on the Sabbath was breaking Pharisaical laws. No one, no matter how sick, wanted to break the laws. All that ceremonial washing and stuff you had to go through to be considered righteous was a pain in the butt. Most of the healed were already going to have to undergo purification by the priests as it was.
Let’s see how Jesus heals the people. Once again we see Jesus laying his hands on the sick and once again it is important to notice what he doesn’t do. It’s also worth noting that not everyone who is sick is sick because of demons. It says, “demons came out of many people,” not all people, yet all were healed. And once again it doesn’t say anything about Jesus forgiving sins. So we learned earlier that not all illness is a direct effect of a person’s sin and we learn here that not all illness is a result of demon-possession. We also see that once again the demons tried to speak and we can assume they tried to call his name because it says Jesus “would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.” Just like the last study we did, Jesus Drives Out a Demon, the demons are not trying to tell people who Jesus is to evangelize. They are instead trying to stir the people into a frenzy so that they would make Jesus their physical king by force. The demons know that is not part of the plan.
Let’s jump to Matthew’s Gospel. Often Matthew will show how Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy because the audience he was writing to was primarily Jewish. They were looking for someone to fulfill prophesy and Matthew wants to show that Jesus is that person. This prophesy is from Isaiah 53:4 and it says that Messiah would be able to heal people. I feel it is important for us Gentiles to know about these prophesies as well as understand how Jesus is the fulfillment of them. It’s not fortune telling. It’s not hocus pocus magic. It is God given prophesy about our Savior. I think it’s important to know it because it is cold hard fact. It’s not something we have to take on faith. Someone uttered these prophesies hundreds of years before Christ and he is the answer to every single on of them and we can see it with our own eyes.
Father, thank you for your power over Satan. We pray that you would not lead us into temptation but would deliver us from the evil one. Give us the strength to act or run or whatever it is that you might tell us to do when faced with Satan.Help us to recognize the difference between illness and demon-posession. I pray that you protect us. I also pray for those of us with illness, Lord. We ask that you would heal us but even if you choose not to, we ask that you be glorified in the situation. Amen.