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God’s Word for You

Mark 1:29-31 The mother of Peter’s wife

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, August 14, 2021

Jesus Heals Many

29 They left the synagogue and went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was lying in bed, sick with a fever.

Jesus was probably invited to have dinner with Peter and Andrew. We don’t know whether Andrew was married at this time, but Peter was, and we have concluded that they lived with the mother of Peter’s wife. This is based on mentions of Peter’s father (John 21:15, etc.) that hint that he was already dead, and we never hear anything of Peter’s mother. Peter’s wife traveled with him during his later missionary years (1 Corinthians 9:5), and a credible legend depicts her being led to martyrdom along with Peter, with the apostle encouraging her to “remember the Lord.” Another credible account says that she and Peter had at least one daughter. Here we meet her mother, lying in her bed and sick with a fever.

Without delay they told Jesus about her. 31 He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she began to serve them.

When the prophets healed, they prayed. When Jesus healed, he simply healed. Power and healing are in his hands simply because he is God. What he created, he can heal, he can fix, he can change. He is the bread of life (John 6:48), the light of life (John 8:12), and the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). Peter’s mother-in-law was healed at once. When one of us recovers from an illness, a fever or whatever, we lie around, relax, let ourselves be pampered a little. But the mother of Peter’s wife? She jumped up and began to serve Jesus and the disciples.

You can almost hear the sorts of things she said. “You must be hungry, all you men. Sit, sit down. You too, Simon—don’t you dare. I’ll take care of everything, Some wine, Jesus? How about you, James? Little Johnny, you must be thirsty, a growing boy like you. Here, there’s fish, and fresh apples, grapes, lemons, cheese, barley rolls. Andrew, let Jesus have father’s chair. Jesus, will you say the meal prayer for us?”

This little account brings three points to my mind:

1, Jesus brings healing, And even though he doesn’t need to be asked, he invites us to ask and to pray for each other when we are sick. Prayer is a privilege that only Christians enjoy; God does not hear the prayers of anyone else. He does not hear the prayers of those who don’t trust or believe in him for forgiveness (Isaiah 59:2) and who do not believe his word (Proverbs 28:9). But for the Christian, whatever we ask in his name is heard and answered by our loving God (John 14:14).

2, The mother of Peter’s wife puts my pitiful service to shame. As soon as the fever left her, she began to serve Jesus and his companions (even though one of them was her own son-in-law). Whenever I feel tired at the end of a long day and am afflicted with reluctance to give attention to the laundry, or the sweeping, or the supper dishes, or the cat box, or a dozen other things, I remember the joyful service of this mother of Peter’s wife. And I remember where her joy came from. We do not take care of our families, our houses or apartments, our pets, or the duties of our daily work, only because we must and we are responsible to do it, but because we are serving in the kingdom of the Lord. And while it is true that “the nation or kingdom that will not serve God will perish” (Isaiah 60:12), individual Christians have been made “to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God” (Revelation 5:10). Serve the Lord and rejoice with trembling (Psalm 2:11).

3, The historical fact of Peter’s marriage cannot be contradicted by those churches that want to impose celibacy on the clergy. Marriage is a blessing from God, and should not be forbidden to anyone. The Old Testament priests were married, which is clearest in the case of the high priests, who passed their office down from father to son, so that Moses’ own sons were not part of the high priestly line but Aaron’s sons were (1 Chronicles 23:13-14). Paul comments that almost all the Apostles were married and their wives accompanied them wherever they ministered with the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:5-6). Also, 1 Timothy 4:1-3 calls the teaching that forbids marriage a doctrine of the devil. And to this Paul adds right away that “everything God created is good” (1 Timothy 4:4), especially including marriage.

Of these three points, the most important is the first, since healing from Jesus includes the healing of the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus did not heal Peter’s mother-in-law a little bit, or only mostly so that she had to do her part, too. He healed her of the fever so that the fever left her completely, and she was eager, willing, and able to serve. So Jesus also heals us completely of our sins. When we stand before our Lord in the resurrection, we will have nothing to fear at all. Jeremiah was blunt and said it in plain words: “Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed. Save me, and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise” (Jeremiah 17:14). There is trust, faith, salvation, and the response of the saved man all in one verse. David or whoever wrote Psalm 116 said with a humble heart: “The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me” (Psalm 116:6). What need is greater than the mire of our sins? So we give our hearts totally to him in thanks and devotion. Several members of my church are professors of Greek, Hebrew and religion at our college of ministry here in New Ulm. One of them, Professor Joel Fredrich, said in a Bible class: “We in the WELS do not think we have a monopoly on God, but we do understand that he ought to have a monopoly on us.” Let God monopolize you, your time, and your whole heart.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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