Last week we saw Jesus interact with a Roman Centurion, and the week prior to that, we saw him actually touch a leper. Both were societally objectionable acts by Jesus, and today he will complete his trio by engaging in one more activity that presses against the orthodoxy of his day – he will interact with and heal a woman.
Having touched the leper and healed the centurion’s servant, the next scene for Jesus shows him entering the home of Peter.
Vignette 3 – The Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law
And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” – Matthew 8:8-14-17, ESV
When we take the synoptic gospels together, we learn that as Jesus entered Peter’s home, those there told him of Peter’s mother-in-law, how she was in the throes of a great fever. Jesus went in to her, rebuked the fever, took the woman by the hand, and lifted her up. She was completely healed and began to serve them.
There is not much more said about this event, and its brevity is interesting from the standpoint that three of the four gospel writers chose to relate the same story.
By electing to rebuke the fever, Jesus seems to have given personality to it, along with demonstrating the fever’s ability to obey commands. Some speculate that the fever was somehow linked to a demon possession that had gripped Peter’s mother-in-law, particularly since Jesus invested the remainder of that evening and the following morning casting out demons from those who were brought to him. Mark and Luke indicate that all in Capernaum who had ailments were brought to Jesus for healing,1 and Mark goes so far as to say the entire city was at Peter’s door.2
When Jesus Heals
I am pretty wimpy when I don’t feel well. If I have been down with a fever, and the fever breaks, chances are I will lazy around an additional day for good measure. When Jesus heals, however, the healing is complete and instantaneous. The moment Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, she jumped out of bed and began serving them as though she had not been ill in the least.3
When Jesus healed the man who was lame for 38 years, there was no muscular atrophy. The man did not need to start slowly and build up his strength. He was healed, fully and immediately.4
When the man born blind was cured, he did not see hazily and in shadows. He did not need to wear patches over his eyes while they adjusted to their new functionality. He was cured, fully and immediately. He was blind, and now he sees.5
Jesus did not need to sit in a lotus position and hum for ten minutes to get the Holy Spirit warmed up before attempting a healing. Neither did he speak long incantations in an authoritative preacher voice. He simply said, “Be gone,” and the illness or the demon was gone.
There was no sideshow, no rehabilitation, no therapy. The glory was God’s and God’s alone.
Matthew described the events following the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law as a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:4. When we look at the prophecy in context, we see in verse four that Jesus bears our infirmities and our sorrows, but in verse eleven of that same passage he bears our sin or our iniquity. Without Jesus, we are drowning in sickness, sorrow, and sin; but in Christ, we are freed from all of that.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. – Isaiah 53:4, NIV-1978
The Simple Lesson From the Three Vignettes
The Christ-devoted man or woman is above no one. We understand the concept of the gospel being for all. In Christ, the patriot and the traitor can lock arms for the kingdom, the Jew and the Gentile can embrace a common cause, the man and the woman can work side by side to advance the cause of Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, not male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28
1. Mark 1:32, Luke 4:40
2. Mark 1:33
3. Matthew 8:15
4. John 5:1-9
5. John 9:1-7