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.
(Matthew 8:14-15 ESV)
Yesterday Jesus entered Peter’s house where He was staying while in Capernaum. Peter’s mother-in-law was in bed, sick with a fever. We aren’t told exactly how severe Peter’s mother-in-law’s condition was so we can only speculate.
It could be that this woman was suffering from a temporary malady similar to the flu. But back in those days a fever could easily have been a sign of a life-threatening situation. Malaria was very prevalent in Capernaum and the surrounding area, since it was located near the marshy edges of the sea of Galilee. Other fever-inducing ailments such as typhoid were also common.
According to Mark’s account of these events, Jesus had just returned home after a long day of healing and teaching. He was probably very tired. Yet He was not too tired to heal one more person. He simply touched her hand.
The fact that Jesus touched this woman is significant. Diseases were often thought to be transmitted by touch. Jesus shows no fear of this. He clearly is demonstrating to Peter and Peter’s mother-in-law that He is in control of not only her condition but also how her condition might affect Him.
Immediately the fever left her and she rose. This would indicate that not only did Jesus set her body temperature back to normal but He also gave her immediate strength. Normally when we are sick with a fever we remain weak even after the fever breaks. We need to eat and regain our strength. Jesus also gave this woman her strength back so she could resume her life.
As a result of being healed Peter’s mother-in-law began to serve Him. Critics will point to this verse as being sexist. They claim that Jesus only healed this woman so He could be served. Obviously there is no evidence of this not to mention such intentions go against Jesus’ character that He demonstrates throughout the rest of His life.
When we read the Bible we must remember that it was authored by God for our benefit. There is a life lesson in every word. What Matthew is actually telling us here is that this woman was so thankful for being healed by Jesus that she wanted to do something for Him in return.
This isn’t unusual. When someone does something nice for us we want to return the favor as a sign of gratitude, especially if their kindness was unexpected and unrequested.
Jesus was never unwilling to help anyone who asked Him. In this scene, He helps someone who doesn’t ask Him. There is no condition that God does not notice. God sees our world and knows that it is filled with all kinds of things that He never intended us to experience, including illness.
Many claim the Bible depicts women as subservient. Ironically, this very passage, in which a woman served Jesus, contradicts that. Peter’s mother-in-law could choose her actions. She chose to serve as a way to repay the kindness she was shown. She was no slave. She is a role-model.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.