From: Su Min
(ben: Strong's Concordance 1121: son: in its widest sense literal and figurative relationships including grandson, nation: looks like a good appellation for cyberspace family of bible students!)
Today's scripture passage is Matt 8:14.
At first sight, the brevity of the passage seemed to suggest to me that there is not much to learn from this passage: but the personage of the healed: mother-in-law of Simon Peter, raised to me the possibility of sharing with you about love for mother-in-laws, much maligned by stand up comics. Praise God for mother-in-laws: without them, where would we get the wives for men to marry and husbands for women to marry? Of course there is potential for friction between in-laws, but more of that anon.
I found that there are two further parallel passages that outline this miracle, and for this miracle to be reported three times in the gospels tells to me that this miracle must be of significance. We shall study, meditate and see what God has to tell us:
We read Mark 1:29-31 and Luke 4:38-39 to get a fuller understanding of this miracle of healing. We collate the texts and understand as follows:
Just after leaving the synagogue (Mark 1:29) Jesus came into the house of his disciples Simon Peter and Andrew in Capernaum and was told that the hostess (mother-in-law of Simon Peter) was indisposed (Mark 1:30). He went to see her and found the lady lying in bed, suffering from a high fever (Matt 8:14, Luke 5:38). They asked Jesus to help her (Luke 5:38). Jesus went to her (Mark 1:31), bent over her (Luke 4;39) touched her hand (Matt 8:15), and rebuked the fever (Luke 4:39), and the fever left her (Matt 8:15, Mark 1:31, Luke 4:39). Jesus took her hand and helped her up (Mark 1:31). She got up at once and began to wait on them.
The setting is in Capernaum, during the healing ministry of Jesus in Galilee. Jesus must have been teaching in the synagogue, and he and his disciples must have arrived as a group at the house of Simon Peter and Andrew, for a meal, and perhaps to rest and use the house as a base from which to launch out on subsequent teaching and healing visits. (Matt 8:14, Mark 1:29, Luke 4:38). Jesus has given up the comforts of heaven to live on earth, and has even given up the comfort of home to live a wandering minister's life. A few verses later he is to say "Foxes have holes...(vs 20)". A very few of us he will call to leave their homes to spread the good news. Most of the rest he will bring to his kingdom, allowing us to stay at home yet not reducing the great commission to go, tell the good news. So we who are allowed to stay at home have that added bonus of the comfort and security of home from which to launch our evangelical expeditions to spread God's peace and message of redemption!Let us pray.
So Jesus pauses to rest in the home of his disciples Simon Peter and Andrew, and a meal should have been prepared for him. (Later we read that the healed lady began to wait on him, serving him the food that had been prepared.) What sort of welcome would we prepare for our Lord and Master? Is there room in our heart for Him? Are we prepared to offer him the master bedroom, the best room in the house, or do we assign him to the servants quarters? Do we set him outside in the stable? Is there no room for him in our inn? Do we set God's work high priority in our hearts? Or is there no room in the inn? Are we prepared to prepare for him a royal feast? Does he get the best cut of the roast? or only leftovers? Do we set aside our prime time for bible study, worship and serving his people? Or do we use only leftover time for such assignments?
Jesus is told of the illness of Simon Peter's mother-in-law. This suggests to me that she was held in high regard. Praise God that she was loved. Even Jesus had not been told, he would have known it, not only from his perception as Son of God, but from a social point of view where the lady of the house would have been readily visible, bustling about in the kitchen or stately supervising the setting up the sitting room or dining room. But the lady was not to be seen. She was in bed suffering from a high fever. Doctor Jesus goes to her. He is drawn by compassion to her side. He recognises her position as mother-in-law of Simon Peter his disciple, lady of the house, hostess, providing him with food and shelter while he is in Capernaum. He sees her suffering. Jesus comes to meet her at her very point of need. He comes to her bedside. He bends over her. He reaches out to touch her. He takes her by the hand. He speaks to her. He heals her. And immediately her health is restored. At once she is up, serving Jesus, waiting upon her Lord.
What does this scripture teach us? Something about the Great Physician and the miracle of healing. Something about a faithful follower who was restored to health to serve him better.
Behold how Jesus responds to her needs. He comes to her. He bends over her. Her reaches out and touches her. He takes her hand. He speaks to her. Lesson for all of us who want to walk in the Master's footsteps. Is there someone we know who is suffering? It may be from physical illness. From stress. From loneliness. From low self esteem. From disappointment. From bereavement. We can show compassion. Go to them. Reach out to them. Touch them. Comfort them just by being there. There may be a time for words. It may be better to remain silent. Let the holy spirit fill you with discernment.
That Jesus can heal, there is no doubt. That He will heal us all on a spiritual plane, I know as a gospel truth. That he know whenever we are indisposed, I know is true. Yet there are times when compassionate though he is, Jesus' hand is stayed when his people are suffering. To heal or not to heal must be congruent with God's perfect plan. Yes, we can plea for mercy. Yes we can and should intercede for the saints that are sick. But even as we intercede and ask for their healing, more so should we seek that God's will is done. Some are allowed to suffer to gain some spiritual insight. Some are asked to suffer in dignity as a testimony to others. Some do get healed miraculously. Others die in pain. Some of this we can understand. Some of it we can never understand. But we can learn to trust God explicitly, and in our moments of distress seek comfort from his holy word, and comfort from his angels who minister to us in the form of our Christian brothers and sisters..
And of the healed lady: Much of what we read in Prov 31 must apply to her. She must have spent much time and energy in preparing her house to receive Jesus. This mother-in-law prepares to receive the master of her son-in-law. I believe that even as she was falling sick, she applied herself diligently to the task. But overwhelmed by high fever, she collapses in bed suffering. Work until collapse! And more amazing, we note what is her response as soon as she is healed: She got up at once and began to wait upon Jesus. She got up immediately to serve her Lord.
What an example to follow! Could we empty ourselves in service to Jesus? Having been restored, do we have the persistence and endurance to immediately put our shoulders to the yoke and take up the task again? God willing, we should..
Almighty God, we thank you for the lesson today.
Thank you for bringing us to this house in Capernaum to witness the healing miracle by Jesus.
Thank you for the example of Peter's mother-in-law who offered hospitality and served Jesus diligently, even immediately upon being restored to health.
Help us to love you with equal devotion.
In Jesus name. Amen.
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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