Miracle 4:
Healing of Peter's Mother-in-law

Intro : Elisa Morgan  remembers that one night her 11-year-old daughter Eva noticed that she was distracted as she tucked her in to bed. I told her about a friend's teenage daughter whose hair was mysteriously falling out and I encouraged Eva to pray for Amy. Her simple words, "Jesus, please hold Amy's hair on her head," touched me.

 As the doctors experimented with different treatments, Amy continued to lose her hair. Eva continued to pray the same prayer.

 After six weeks the doctors determined Amy had alopecia, an extremely rare disorder where hair loss is unpredictable but can be complete and permanent. When I told Eva, she took my hand and closed her eyes. This time her prayer was different. "Dear Jesus, if you won't hold Amy's hair on her head, would you please hold Amy?" Tearfully, I realized how sometimes God doesn't move mountains; he moves us.  -- Elisa Morgan in Christian Parenting Today.  Christian Reader, Vol. 34.

In the miracle before us today we will see the power Christ has over disease. He is able to immediately heal diseased and infected organs. He can immediately reverse the physical effects that damage, inflame, and destroy human tissue. Imagine that!  With antibiotics and anti viral drugs sophisticated new  ways to attack our ailments we still are still  unable to effect immediate change. But Christ can with the power of His word immediately set men free.

I. OBSERVATION

A.       Passage Selected: Mark 1:29-34 29And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30But Simonís wifeís mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. 31And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. 32And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. 33And all the city was gathered together at the door. 34And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

B.       Luke 4:38-39 38And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simonís house. And Simonís wifeís mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. 39And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.

C.      Matt 8:14-17 4And when Jesus was come into Peterís house, he saw his wifeís mother laid, and sick of a fever. 15And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. 16When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: 17That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

D. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context : Mark 1:29

a.       In Capernaum on the Sabbath. 

b.       Tradition says that Peterís house was only about 100 yards from the synagogue.  They have a church built on the spot.  But part of the site location problem in Israel is that Constantineís mother-in-law came through Israel around 300 AD and had churches built on various spots to represent this or that event from the NT.  It is highly debated as how accurate she was.

c.        There are two mothers-in-law in the Bible who donít have the typical mothers-in-law relationships.  Naomi and Peterís mother. 

2. Content Mark 1:30-31

a. The woman with a high fever  (Mark 1:30)

Luke points out that the fever was high.  He wants you to know that it is serious.  It is even more serious for an adult to have a high fever than for a child.

The disciples speak to Jesus about her fever.  Here we see their intercession for her.

b. The woman healed  (Mark 1:31a)

1.                   In Mark we see that Jesus took her hand.  This is the helping hand of the servant.

2.                   Matthew says ďwhen he touched her hand...Ē  Why the difference?  Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience.  If a Jew touched a sick person, it would make them unclean.  Jesus can touch sick people without becoming unclean because his touch heals them.

3.                   In Luke we see Jesusí bedside manner - ďHe bent over her...Ē

4.                   This may be pure speculation as to the reasons for the differences between the different authors, but it is interesting to see how the different writers emphasized different things for their audiences.  If you asked the question, ďDid he touch her, Did he bend over her, Did he grab her hand and help her up?Ē The answer is yes to all of them.  It is not hard to harmonize.

5.                   I addition Luke mentions that Jesus rebuked the fever. 

c. The woman helping  (Mark 1:31b)

Now notice not just the absence of disease, but the restoration of strength.  If you ever watch some of these miracle worship services on TV, the people that are healed sort of shuffle off the stage.

But this woman arose and she served them.  In the gospel of Mark, serving is a sign of greatness.  So we see a little bit about her character.  It is interesting that only angels and women served Jesus in the gospels.

3. Context  Mark 1:32-34

a.                   Once the Sabbath was over, the people flocked to Jesus with their sick and demon possessed to have Him heal them.. 

b.                   They had to wait until the Sabbath was over so that they didnít violate the Phariseesí rules about carrying burdens on the Sabbath. Again we see that the Pharisees rules were more of a burden to the people than a fulfillment of the original intent of the Sabbath, which was to provide rest.

c.                    What better way to rest than to go and be healed by Jesus.  But the people had to wait.  To the Pharisees rules were more important than people.

d.                   Vs 35 After a very full day of ministry, Jesus gets up early the next morning to spend time with the Father.  ďAnd in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.Ē

e.                    I know the human tendency after a full day of ministry is to sleep in the next day. I think this illustrates that Jesusí strength came from the Father. 

II. INTERPRETATION

            We now learn that Jesus has the authority to heal disease. Why is that important? Cf. Isa 35:5-6; 53:4-5. 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. Isaiah predicts that the Messiah would heal.  So, these events further identify Jesus as the Messiah.

            Jesus is not someone who majors in fixing bad backs or leg lengthening.  He can heal all manner of diseases.  Notice also that they arenít performed on a platform. It took place in her bedroom probably, out of sight of the crowds.

            Is sickness always the result of sin?  No. There is nothing in the passage about sin she needs to confess.

            Five reasons for sickness: 

1. It may be the result of sin 1Cor 11:

2. It may be the result of demonic activity

3. It may be to teach maturity or humility.

4. 1 Pet 4:1 to purify us.  Like the refinerís fire.

5. It may be to simply demonstrate the power and glory of God.  John 9:

III. APPLICATIONS

            We see the importance of intercession.  Others become the channel of blessing for someone else.

1 Tim 1:3 ďI exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;Ē

The New Testament teaches that intercession is expected of all believers (1 Tim. 2:1-3). Intercession for the sick is particularly important (Jas. 5:14). Paul in his letters constantly referred to his prayers for the readers, and Jesus set forth the supreme example of intercession (Luke 22:32; 23:34; John 17).

The Bible reveals that intercession is performed by the Holy Spirit, Christ, and Christians.  God accepts a believerís prayers and praises through Christís intercession..

            While there are times to get away, ministry sometimes needs to be done when Iím tired.  Jesus had just been teaching in the synagogue and theyíve gone home to eat and rest.

            Serving should be the natural response of gratitude for the work of God in our lives.  She got up and immediately began to wait on them. Luke and Mark both point this out.  Luke points it out because as a doctor, he wants to emphasize the completeness of the healing.  Mark points it out because it fits his theme of serving.

            Being a follower of Jesus does not exempt your family from sickness.

            Sickness can be used to teach us what to do with our health.  There are times when Iíve been in bed with a bad back or pinched nerve in my neck or last month with my broken ribs and it motivates me with what I want to do when Iím healthy.

ILLUSTRATION: I recently read a story by a woman who said that as a girl she was poor. She said, "I grew up in a cold water flat, but I married a man who had money. And he took me up to a place where I had flowers, and I had gardens, and I had grass. It was wonderful. And we had children.

 "Then suddenly I became physically sick. I went to the hospital, and the doctors ran all sorts of tests. One night the doctor came into my room, and with a long look on his face, said, 'I'm sorry to tell you this. Your liver has stopped working.'

 "I said, 'Doctor, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Are you telling me that I am dying?' And he said, 'I, I can't tell you any more than that. Your liver has stopped working. We've done everything we can to start it.' And he walked out.

 "I knew I was dying. I was so weak, I had to feel my way along the corridor down to the chapel of the hospital. I wanted to tell God off. I wanted to tell God, 'You are a shyster! You've been passing yourself off as a loving God for two thousand years, but every time anyone begins to get happy you pull the rug out from under them.' I wanted this to be a face-to-face telling off of God.

 "And just as I got into the center aisle of the chapel, I tripped, I swooned, I fainted. And I looked up, and there stenciled along the step into the sanctuary, where the altar is, I saw these words: LORD, BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER. I know God spoke to me that night. I know he did."

 She didn't say how God communicated this to her, but what God said was, "You know what this is all about. It's about the moment of surrender; it's about bringing you to that moment when you will surrender everything to me. These doctors, they do the best they can. but they only treat. I'm the only one who can cure you."

 And she said, "There with my head down on my folded arms in the center of the chapel, repeating, 'Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,' I surrendered to God. I found my way back to my hospital bed, weak as I was.

"The next morning, after the doctor ran the blood tests and the urinalysis and so forth, he said, 'Your liver has started working again. We don't know why. We don't know why it stopped, and we don't know why it started up again.' And I said in my heart, But I know. Oh but I know. God has brought me to the brink of disaster, just to get me to turn my life over to him."