Jesus’ Smallest Miracle

Apr 11, 2016

Christ Healing Simon Peter's Mother-in-Law by John Bridges

Christ Healing Simon Peter’s Mother-in-Law by John Bridges

Of all the miracles that Mark records, this one is by far the most “ordinary.” It is not nearly as dramatic as the previous exorcism. The ramifications are not nearly as great as the healing of the leper or the raising of the young girl from the dead. In spite of all that, this healing provides us with some key insights into the personality of Jesus.

The fact that this miracle is not as dramatic as others, does not in any way belittle the importance of this healing. While a fever in our day is often an inconvenience that is treated with bed rest and medicine, in ancient times, a fever could be fatal. This was a very serious condition and Jesus wasted no time in dealing with it.

This healing is also important in a historical sense. This little story gives us some rare insight into the home life of one of Jesus’s disciples. It lets us know that Peter was married and probably had a family. In fact, Peter was the only one of the Twelve to have a family member healed by Jesus. It is reasonable to assume that others among the Twelve were also married and had families. This fact adds weight to Peter’s statement, “We have left everything to follow you!”

The first thing that we should notice about this miracle is the fact that it is performed on a woman. As one of the first miracles that Mark records, Jesus is seen reaching out to a member of an often overlooked group in society, namely women. While this might not seem like much of an issue in our modern society, in first century Palestine, women were little more than property. Jesus’s willingness to heal a woman showed that He was not going to be bound by all the norms of His day. James Brooks writes, “By including accounts of the healing of women as well as men, Mark implied that Jesus was concerned about all people, including those who had a lowly place in society.” Time and again, Jesus was seen reaching out to those on the margins of society and healing them.

Another aspect of this healing that needs to be commented on is the simplicity of it. In Mark’s account, Jesus merely took the sick woman by the hand and helped her up. At this, “The fever left her . . .” This is in contrast to the exorcism that had just taken place. In that situation, Jesus spoke (possibly even yelled) at the demons and cast them out. There is no indication that He touched the demon possessed man. Here, Jesus does not say a word; He just helps the sick woman out of bed. There is no mention of the woman’s faith or of anyone else’s faith for that matter. The touch of Jesus was enough to bring total healing. No theological point is made. We just see Jesus exercising His authority and healing someone who is suffering.

The last aspect of this story that will be mentioned is the aftermath of the healing. After the fever left her, “she began to wait on them.” After being healed, Peter’s mother-in-law immediately began to serve Jesus and those with Him. Alan Richardson sees this as a moral exhortation: “Christians who have been delivered from the power of sin and restored to health should at once begin to use their blessings in the service of the Lord.” Those who have been recipients of God’s love and power have a responsibility to share that same love and power with those around them.

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