Simon's Mother in Law Was in Bed with a High Fever

Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-34; Luke 4:38-41

DIG: How does Jesus’ healing here compare with His casting out a demon in Mark 1:25? Who did Messiah heal on the Sabbath? Why is that important to know? Who did the Lord heal after the sun went down? How many did He heal? How do you picture that scene? Why does He silence the demons? Why were the people coming to Him?

REFLECT: If you were in the crowd, what would you ask Messiah to heal for you? However, if you pray for healing and like Rabbi Sha’ul (2 Cor 12:1-10), Yeshua chose not to heal you, how do you respond? Does God still heal today? According to what? How do people, knowingly or unknowingly, use the Lord? What do you think He feels about that? What can you do about it?

It was the Holy Sabbath – the first after Yeshua had called the majority of His apostles around Him; the first, also, after His return from Pesach at Jerusalem (see Bs – The First Cleansing of the Temple). But once the synagogue service had ended, Jesus went to Peter’s house. According to Jewish custom the main Sabbath meal came immediately after the synagogue service, at the sixth hour, which is at twelve o’clock noon. As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James, John and the rest of the apostles, to the home of Simon and Andrew (Mark 1:29). When Yeshua came into Simon’s house, He saw Peter’s mother-in-law stretched out lying in bed. Doctor Luke noticed that she was suffering from a high fever. The imperfect tense means it was continuous, not temporary.

And they asked the Lord to help her (Mattityahu 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38). It is very important to notice that Simon had a mother-in-law because that means that Shim’on was married. If Peter was supposed to be the first pope, as the Catholic Church claims, why was he married?The fact that Peter was married is confirmed by Paul when he wrote to the believers at Corinth: Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife (the Greek word here is gune, or wife, not adelphe, or sister) along with us, as do the other apostles and Peter (First Corinthians 9:5)? The Catholic Church teaches that this was Simon’s sister.

During the first centuries of the Christian Era the clergy were permitted to marry and have families. The celibacy of the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church was decreed by pope Gregory VII in 1079, more than a thousand years after the time of Christ. Jesus imposed no rule against the marriage of the apostles. On the contrary, Peter was a married man for at least twenty-five years and his wife accompanied him on his missionary journeys. Hence, Peter was a married man during a considerable part of the time that the Roman Church says that he was a pope in Rome. But, he was never in Rome at all (see Fx – On This Rock I Will Build My Church). If celibacy properly has the place given to it in the Roman Church, it is not credible that Messiah would have chosen as the foundation stone and first pope a man who was married. The fact is that when Christ established His Church, He took no account of celibacy at all, but instead chose married men for His apostolic college.403

Peter’s mother-in-law was very ill and Jesus healed her. But each Gospel writer reports it a little differently, based upon his particular theme. Matthew presents Jesus as King of the Jews, and here a mere touch from the King is sufficient to heal her. It was not insignificant that the miracle-working Rabbi touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on Him (Matthew 8:15). The teaching of the Talmud is that a man (and how much more a rabbi) should not make contact with a woman’s hand, even when counting money from his hand to hers (Tractate Berachot 61a).

Mark presents our Lord in the role of a servant, and says: So Jesus went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to serve them (Mark 1:31). Luke presents Jesus as the perfect man. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Luke alone notices the immediate change so that she could serve the Sabbath meal. She got up at once and began to serve them (Luke 4:39). The term serve (Greek: diekonei), although not a technical term, is used elsewhere in the New Covenant for service for Christ (Luke 8:3, 17:8; Acts 6:2-4, 19:22). The cure must have been instantaneous, to make it possible for Peter’s mother-in-law to cook a meal for the Lord and the men He had with Him. But the verb is in the imperfect tense, showing progressive action. In other words, it took some time to prepare the meal.

The report that Jesus had cast out demons and healed the sick circulated rapidly. That evening after sunset, many who were sick and demon-possessed were brought to Him. It was the Sabbath that day, as evidenced by the fact that they left the synagogue. Shabbat ended at sunset, and so the people were free to bring their sick and demon-possessed friends and relatives. The Bible makes a distinction between sickness and demon-possession. There is no demon of lust, or demon of gluttony, or demon of this or demon of that. Demons do not specialize in certain illnesses. There is no biblical evidence of that. We can be sick merely because of human frailty or bad genes. The verb brought is imperfect, speaking of continuous action. They kept bringing and bringing and brining people.

The whole town gathered together at the door. None went away disappointed. The Great Physician drove out the spirits with a word, and laying His hands on each one, healing all the sick (Matthew 8:16; Mark 1:32-34a; Luke 4:40). Yeshua healed with a word or a touch, He healed instantly, He healed organic diseases from birth (John 9:1-41), and raised the dead (Mark 5:21-43; John 11:1-44). Anyone who claims to have the gift of healing today should be able to do likewise.These healings were for a particular purpose: This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases” (Matthew 8:17). This passage from Isaiah 53 is still applied in many rabbinic commentaries to the coming of the Meshiach (Sanhedrin 98a). Our Savior still heals today, but as the result of His own sovereign will, not our demands.

The Hebrew of Isaiah 53 for diseases allows for both physical and spiritual healing. No doubt, a most important work of Yeshua would be to take our sins away as a guilt offering (Isaiah 53:11). We should remember that physical healing is not necessarily guaranteed in the atonement of Messiah during the Dispensation of Grace (see my commentary on Hebrews). Christ died for our sins, yet believers still fall into sin; He overcame pain and sickness, but His people still suffer and become ill; He conquered death, but His followers still die. There are too many examples of unrealized healings both in the Bible and in the modern-day lives of godly believers (2 Cor 12:1-10). There is some mystery why God does not always heal in every case, yet clearly He uses these cases many times to teach His children different lessons. Nonetheless, a day will come when the physical aspect of Jesus’ work will be fully realized by all who call on His name He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4).404

Those who claim that believers should never be sick because of their healing in the atonement should also claim that believers should never die, because Jesus also conquered death in the atonement. The central message in the Gospel is deliverance from sin. It is good news about forgiveness, not health. The Anointed One was made sin, not disease, and He died on the cross for our sin, not our sickness. As Peter makes clear when he wrote: He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, “by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).405

Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But He muzzled them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew He was the Messiah (Mark 1:34b; Luke 4:41). He did not give those weighing the evidence of His miracles an opportunity to reject Him because testimony came from such questionable sources. Therefore, He would not allow the demons to testify on His behalf.

Notice all the sick were healed. But there was the beginning of the tragedy. The crowds came, they came, however, because they wanted something from Yeshua. They did not come because they loved Him; they did not come because they had caught a glimpse of His deity; in the last analysis they didn’t want Himthey wanted what He could do for them.

Actually this was not (or is not) that uncommon. For the one prayer that goes up to Ha’Shem in the days of prosperity - ten thousand go up in the time in adversity. Many who have never prayed when the sun was shinning of life begin to pray fervently when the cold winds come. Someone has said that so many people regard religion as belonging “to the ambulance corps and not to the firing-ling of life.” Religion to them is merely crisis management. It is only when their lives fall apart that they remember God.

We must always remember to go to Jesus, for He alone can give us the things we need for life even if we don’t understand the answer. We need to have Job’s unwavering trust in the goodness of ADONAI no matter what the circumstances. He said: Even if God kills me, I’ll continue to hope in Him (Job 13:15a). As His children, being adopted into the family of God, He is always looking out for our best interests’ as any loving father would. But YHVH is not someone to be used in the day of misfortune; He is someone to be loved and remembered every day of our lives.406


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