Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law
Written by Pastor James Dorman
1. Thoughts by Matthew, Mark, and Luke:
Matthew 8:14–17 (NIV84) “When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.
16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.’ “
Mark 1:29–34 (NIV84) “As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.”
Luke 4:38–41 (NIV84) “Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.
40 When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.”
2. Passage Outline
Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-In-Law
Matt. 8:14-17; Mk. 1:29-34; Luke 4:38-41
I. Jesus leaves the Synagogue, arrives at Peter’s home, finds Peter’s mother-in-law with a great fever (Matt. 8:14; Mk 1:29-30; Lk. 4:38)
II. Jesus Heals Her and She serves Her Guests (Matt. 8:15; Mk. 1:31; Lk. 4:38)
III. Jesus Heals Many and Rebukes Demons (Matt. 8:16; Mk. 1:32-34; Lk. 4:40-41)
IV. Another of Isiah’s Prophecies Fulfilled (Matt. 8:17)
3. Information to Consider
To some it is a puzzle as to why so much of the Gospel narrative is devoted to healing. They grow weary of the lists of people relieved of pain and infirmity. Yet, if you have ever had a serious illness, the sweetness and beauty of our Lord’s healing ministry comes to life. We rejoice in the great relief and joy given to so many people. Additionally, our Lord’s healing ministry gave tangible evidence of his identity as the Son of God.
Jesus went to Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee (see map on page 9). So frequent were his visits to this seaside town, that it was called ‘his own city’ (Matt. 9:1).
In the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon cried out. In Luke 4:34, 41, demons recognized the identity of Jesus as the ‘Holy One of God’, ‘the Christ, the Son of God’. How different recognition of him is from faith in him! James tells us that even demons believe and tremble before God (James 2:19).
Jesus rebuked the demons because his time for public recognition had not yet come. Later he would also tell the people he healed to say nothing about him (Luke 5:14, 8:56, 9:20, 21 etc). The demon in verse 34 recognized Jesus as his judge, the one who would one day ‘destroy’. He will eternally condemn those who reject him. The Lord rebuked the demon, who left the man, doing him no harm (v. 35b).
The Saviour healed Simon’s mother-in-law (vv. 38, 39). The three synoptic Gospels all record this healing. Clearly we are meant to see that following Jesus was costly, because we learn that Simon Peter had a wife and extended family. We have not yet read in this Gospel of his contact with Simon Peter himself. It seems that Christ had made friends with most of his disciples before the moment when he officially called them (see Luke 6:13–16). Once Simon’s mother-in-law was well, she immediately served others. How important it is for those who recover from sickness to use their strength to minister to other people!
Jesus told the people, as he taught and healed, that he had to minister to others also (vv. 42, 43). He had been sent to preach far and wide throughout Israel, not just to the communities in Galilee.
4. Questions to Ponder
a. Why did Jesus go to Peter’s home? (Matt. 8:14)
b. Is Isaiah’s prophecy appropriately quoted? (Matt. 8:17)
c. Why were the demons not allowed to testify? (Mk. 1:34)
5. Author’s Comments
When asked to address the issue at the wedding in Cana, Jesus told Mary His time had not yet arrived. Following His arrival at Capernaum, Jesus reveals the time for initiating His earthly ministry had arrived.
We do not know how many sick and infirmed people Jesus had encountered during His life without choosing to free them from the illness impacting their lives. In addition, we also do not know how many demon possessed people Jesus had bumped into during in His life without addressing the issue. Yet, here and for the rest of His time here on Earth, Jesus would encounter and address the issues of many who were infirmed and possessed.
With His decision to Peter’s mother-in-law, Mary, Jesus declared His divine nature, revealed His ability to heal and His dominion over demons, and His deeply compassionate nature. From this moment on, Jesus would devote Himself to the fulfillment of His earthly ministry. A moment declared in the healing of Mary.
6. Closing Prayer
It is so good to spend time in Your Word – to have the opportunity to explore the life and ministry of Jesus at any moment we desire. I am so grateful for the Christians who preceded us who ensured we would have constant access to the Bible.
Today, I so appreciate the opportunity to explore Jesus’ power over the representatives of satan and the initiation of Jesus’ ability to bring healing to those experiencing life threatening or congenital illnesses.
Thank you, Father for the gift of Your written Word.
In Jesus’ Name, AMEN.
7. Answers to “Questions to Ponder”
a. Most likely due to the nearness of Peter’s home to the Capernaum synagogue (about 150 yards). Peter and his family had relocated from Bethsaida and settled in Capernaum. As such, Peter’s home became the Galilean ministry headquarters for Jesus and His disciples.
b. This Isaiahan prophecy was three-fold in nature, the Messiah would be: (1) a man of sorrows; (2) a man who was sorrowful because he bore the sicknesses and sorrows of others, and (3) a man who healed others by bearing their sins. This prophecy was appropriately used as: (1) Jesus’ early years were spent in poverty and misery; (2) His earthly ministry was full of sympathy and compassion; and (3) through His crucifixion, Jesus bore the sins of the world.
c. Jesus forbade the demons to testify to His nature for most likely two reasons: (1) because of their nature and who they served, Jesus knew their testimony would not aid, but rather hinder His cause or (2) it was not yet time for the full scope of His nature and/or His ministry to be revealed to His audience.