Study 5 RESTORING SIMON’S MOTHER-IN-LAW
OUR LORD’S MIRACLES
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portions: Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38-39)
In Mark 1:21-34 we read of what must have been a very busy Sabbath day for our Lord, and a very blessed day for those who were with Him. In the morning He went to the synagogue: there He taught the people and delivered a man from the power of an evil spirit. In the afternoon He went to the home of Simon Peter and restored his sick mother-in-law. Then in the evening He healed many who were diseased and devil-possessed. But in spite of this very busy day, verse 35 tells us that Jesus was up early the next morning, ”while it was still dark”, praying to His Father in Heaven. What a great lesson there is here for us!
But it is about Peter’s mother-in-law that we are to think in this study. How interesting to read that Peter had a wife, for some who teach the dogma of celibacy would have us believe that Peter was the first Pope! Let us look at Mark’s account of this incident, where we have four pictures full of spiritual teaching.
1. THE PORTRAIT OF THE SINNER
The physical condition of Peter’s mother-in-law is a picture of men and women who are living in their sin. She was ”sick of a fever”, and sin is a fever, a disease that has laid hold on the human race. How does anyone know if he has a fever? How did Peter’s family know that she had a fever?
- 1. First, she was experiencing extreme weakness. Mark tells us that she was “in bed with a fever”; she was helpless, prostrate and without strength. What a picture this is of the fever of sin! We are helpless when sin grips us - look up Romans 5:6.
- 2. She was very restless. A fever-stricken patient is in a constant state of unrest, tossing and turning; and beneath all the unrest of our present age is sin. What a fever sin is! It makes men and women restless for pleasure, gambling and drink!
- 3. She was thirsty. A fever-stricken patient has a craving for liquids to ease a parched and burning throat. Deep down in the hearts of men and women there is a craving, a thirst for that which only the Lord Himself can give, and there are many today who, beneath all the outward veneer of godlessness and worldliness, have a deep longing for reality and satisfaction.
- 4. She would have suffered from depression and delusions. Anyone with a very high temperature finds everything is out of perspective and he is overwhelmed with depression and dark forebodings. Why? Because he has a fever; and this is exactly the way in which sin depresses and deludes the sinner; it clouds the mind and numbs the spirit so that things appear to be different from what they really are.
2. THE PRAYER OF THE SERVANTS
Mark tells us that ”they told Jesus about her.” These servants of the Lord saw the need of the fever-stricken woman, so they pleaded with the Lord to cure her. Are there any in your home circle and among your friends who are stricken with the fever of sin? Are you praying for them? Are you doing all within your power to bring them to the Lord, or are you relying upon someone else to do it? In our story it was the prayer of the servants that brought the suffering woman into contact with the Saviour. Their prayer acted as a link between the sufferer and the Saviour, and the same is true regarding those around us who need Christ and His salvation. Our prayer may be the link between them and the Lord.
3. THE POWER OF THE SAVIOUR
Mark tells us that “..he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her…” ; and Luke adds that ..he bent over her and rebuked the fever; and it left her (Luke 4:39). Thus we see that:-
- 1. His power was Sympathetic. “He bent over her.” He not only had the power to deliver and to heal her, but His power flowed out in deep sympathy, tenderness and love.
- 2. His Power was Dynamic, for “he rebuked the fever…” - and it obeyed Him. How is this? He is not just a man; He is the God-man, who reveals His love and extends His power towards those of us who by nature are sick of a fever.
- 3. His Power was Immediate. He ”took her by the hand, and helped her up. The fever left her.” There was no slow convalescence; this was an instantaneous cure. It would have been wonderful if this sick woman had gradually recovered, but how much more wonderful that the work was done in a moment! And the Lord is able to meet us right here and now, at the point of our need, and to grant us a complete deliverance.
Now notice how Peter’s mother-in-law became conscious of the Saviours power:-
- 1. He bent over her… so she saw His face.
- 2. He rebuked the fever… so she heard His voice.
- 3. He lifted her up… so she felt His touch.
These are the three ways in which we experience His wonder-working power. We see His face, we hear His voice and we feel His touch. What a wonderful face! What a tender voice! What a powerful touch!
4. THE PROOF OF THE SALVATION
What was the proof that the fever had really gone? Did she look better or say she felt better? This was undoubtedly so, but Matthew 8:15 tells us that ”she got up, and began to wait on him.” There were, therefore, two evidences that she really had been cured. First, “she got up”; second, “she began to wait on him”, and these two things are always present where there has been a real work of grace in the heart. ”She got up” - that speaks of a new life; “she began to wait” - that speaks of service. But does this really happen in a spiritual sense? If we yield to the power of the Saviour, will the proof of His salvation be seen in our lives? Indeed it will! We shall rise to a new life (2 Corinthians 5:17), and we shall find that His service is perfect freedom (John 8:36).