“Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.”
— Mark 1:30-31
It’s astounding to me what a fresh reading of an old story can sometimes conjure in my head.
I’ve been “in church” most of my life in one way or another. I’ve known most of the stories of Jesus’ miracles for decades. And this story–the story of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law–has always, I’m ashamed to admit, been vaguely offensive to me. It wasn’t because Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law; it was because the first thing she did after being healed was get up and wait on Jesus and the disciples with Him.
I always saw Peter’s mother-in-law as somewhat taken advantage of. Here she was, lying on her deathbed, so ill that she couldn’t even get up, and the first thing she’s expected to do when she’s healed is get up and serve people. Not even a good night’s sleep first–no, in that culture, she’d better get up and provide for the men. And maybe that’s why Jesus healed her–so that someone would help Peter’s wife provide the food and shelter He and the other disciples needed!
At least, that’s the way I used to read it.
This is what being raised in a feminist culture has done to me.
I read this passage again this morning with fresh eyes, and two huge things occurred to me:
1) Jesus didn’t heal her halfway. He healed her completely. She didn’t need to “rest up”; it was done. One act on His part wiped away her illness and effectively brought her back from the dead–or at least from her deathbed.
2) Perhaps the fact that the first thing she did upon being healed was wait on Jesus was an act of worship and gratitude. I’ve always thought of her service as an act of obligation or a result of expectations of those present in the home. But what if she was so grateful for the healing that she wanted to serve Jesus–that nothing pleased her more than to return, in some small measure, the love that He had bestowed on her?
Jesus doesn’t heal us halfway. When He forgives sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness, it’s done. Finished. Once and for all. As far as the east from the west.
Do we really understand how profound that is?
If we did, perhaps we would be more like Peter’s mother-in-law. If we really comprehended what it means to be completely healed, perhaps we’d be more willing to jump off our deathbeds and serve the Risen Savior.
Something to ponder today.
Till next we meet . . .