“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
Only in Matthew’s Gospel do we read about this miraculous healing. At first glance, we would think this verse is only about healing. After all, Jesus did heal many people during his three years of ministry.
But, there’s more to this small verse than what meets the eye. Besides the healing she received, her brief bio shows us how to live a fulfilled life without seeking the spotlight.
This verse says a lot about not only serving but being served as well. It’s about those that don’t need to be the “center of attention,” but are happiest at fulfilling a supportive role.
Her miracle healing is not to be sidelined for anything. As I mentioned in the above story my friend Jim received a miraculous healing. My dad has survived two near fatal heart attacks.
In my early twenties I experienced a miracle phone call that kept me from dying. Just a little earlier on the day of my phone call I’d an accident while riding my bicycle. Little did I know that I had burst my vulva on impact by hitting my bike frame when I had to come to an abrupt halt. I was crossing a street when a car came out of nowhere and nearly crushed me and my bike.
So while on my way home I began to seep blood. But I was too dazed and in pain to know what to do. This is when I was single and lived alone in a small Southern Georgia town. I was almost home when this happened so I was able to make it to my apartment.
Within a few minutes of getting inside, my sister Carol called me from two hundred miles away because God placed me on her mind at that crucial time. I explained what had happened to her. She, then called my employer. From there he got the hospital to send an ambulance out to my apartment. That miracle phone call saved my life.
Yes, miracles still do happen. No question about that. But, lets look at the “serve and being served” message that’s woven into this verse. It’s not only what she did, but it’s what Jesus did, and what Peter and his wife did also.
Now, unfortunately, we don’t know her name, but countless people are serving in Christ’s name all over the World and only a few are ever known by name.
After her healing she promptly served Jesus. Now, to me this shows her gratefulness of being healed. But, it also shows her exercising her gift of service.
Doing this may have been expected of her. But still, Jesus didn’t heal everyone he walked by, either. He waited four days to go see about his friend Lazarus who was very ill. By that time Lazarus had died, and been buried. But he experienced a miraculous resurrection when Jesus came to his grave. The whole amazing story is found in John 11:1-44.
Jesus doesn’t always heal. I can’t explain it, I just know that sometimes healing happens and sometimes it doesn’t. What I can say, though is the last year of my brother Gene’s life we all helped him in every way we could. Doing that brought all of us closer together. That’s worth more to us than what any of us could describe.
Getting back to our verse, we know that a special bond had formed between Jesus, and three of his disciples: Peter, John, and James. Did that make a difference in this story? I don’t think so, but it is God’s desire that we all draw near to Jesus (Hebrews 10:22).
So, this verse show’s us the importance of having meaningful relationships where we can draw close to a friend. That’s part of what makes life fulfilling. We read about God’s love for us and how he doesn’t condemn us in John 3:16,17.
She could’ve chosen to be the “center of attention” since she was miraculously healed. But, she chose to serve instead. People who exercise their gift of service rarely want to be in the spotlight. But, receiving a well deserved “Thank you” is appreciated by all.
Jesus, himself, taught this very concept of service:
“It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26).
Part of any meaningful relationship is to receive as well as to give. Peter and his wife welcomed her into their home. We don’t read that her presence made it difficult. What we do read is that she used her gift of service in their home. Her help would’ve been appreciated by the entire family.
Peter’s concerned for her health shows his care for her. I’m sure they had tried the usual ancient ways to lower her fever by this time. But the herbs and cooling baths weren’t curing her.
Peter believed she needed a touch by none other than Jesus, himself. So he urged Jesus to visit his home and heal his ill in-law. And that’s just what happened.
This instance may have been the impetus of him writing latter on:
“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Some translations use the word “care” instead of anxieties. But, it’s the same idea with either word. We don’t have to carry our emotional burdens around needlessly. Peter was concerned about his mother-in-law so he went to Jesus about it.
Jesus always cared about others first. Here we see that he cared about her health foremost. This shows that we can’t work our way into having a relationship with the Savior.
After he healed her he spent time with all that were gathered there. In those days you just didn’t “drop in” for coffee. There’s no doubt that all the guests stayed and had a meal together. Since she served Jesus this meant that she sat near or behind him during the meal. So she would’ve been in his presence from her healing through the end of the meal.
Having meaningful relationships and being fully engaged in whatever our gifts and talents are is an important part to living our lives to the fullest. This is what brings satisfaction and fullness to not only ourselves, but to others also.
Perhaps you’ve experienced a miracle as well. I’d like to hear about it, but of course I would want some proof of it happening. I’m always looking for a good story to add to my next self-published book.
*All Bible verses are from The English Standard Version (ESV).