Some women live for drama. They demand attention wherever they go. Other women work quietly in the background putting others’ needs before their own. Today we look at Peter’s mother-in-law, a beloved woman who spent her life serving others.

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It’s a simple story. Jesus and his disciples arrive at the home of Peter and Andrew. Peter’s mother-in-law is sick. Jesus heals her. She gets out of bed and serves them. Interesting that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all made a point to include it. So what’s so special about it?

Backstory

Mark 1:29 tells us that after Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they went to the home of Peter and Andrew. Which leads to the questions of what happened at the synagogue and why did they go to that house?

It’s the early days of Jesus’ ministry and Jesus had just called his first disciples – Peter and Andrew, James and John. They all went to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath, Jesus taught at the synagogue. The people there were confused because He didn’t teach like the scribes. Instead, He taught from a position of authority. 

At the synagogue was a demon-possessed man. He cried out to Jesus, calling Him the Holy One. When Jesus rebuked the demon and healed the man, they really didn’t know what to think. Who was this man who taught with authority and even the demons knew who He was? Jesus’ fame spread throughout Galilee. 

Next thing we know, He’s headed to Peter and Andrew’s house. We see it throughout scripture. Jesus performed miracles. People talked. His fame spread. And He went somewhere quiet to get away. 

Her Story

As soon as Jesus arrives at the house, they tell Him about the situation with the mother-in-law. She’s sick with a fever. Luke, the physician points out that she’s suffering from a high fever. This indicates that it wasn’t a minor illness, but one that could be fatal. The family asks Him to help her. 

Jesus heals her. She hops out of bed and begins serving them. 

The Rest of the Story

Who all lived in this house? Andrew, Peter, Peter’s wife, and his mother-in-law that we know of. Was Andrew married? Were there children?

Mothers-in-law get a bad rap. When you hear of a mother-in-law living with a family, you usually hear snide remarks about her intruding on their space.

Peter’s mother-in-law was in a position that could have easily made her feel uncomfortable, even unwanted. She could have wallowed in the misery of having to be dependent on her son-in-law and sharing a house with not only her daughter and son-in-law, but his brother as well. 

As the elderly member, she could have played the helpless card, expecting to be taken care of by the younger members of the household.

Instead, she made herself a vital, very much loved, member of the family.

All three of the gospel accounts make it clear that the family was worried about their patriarch. 

Matthew and Mark each tell the story in the same way. Jesus walked over to her bed, took her by the hand and helped her up, and she was immediately healed. 

Luke explains it a little differently. He says that Jesus rebuked the fever, it left her, and she got up and was healed.

The accounts can easily be merged. Jesus took her by the hand, rebuked the fever, and helped her out of bed. 

They all agree that the moment she was healed she got out of bed and ministered to Jesus and His disciples. 

Think about that for a moment. Think back to the last time you had a high fever. Even after the fever broke, how did you feel? The thing about fevers, they wear you out. They sap your energy, leaving you drained. It can take days or weeks to get your strength back up.

But not in this case.

Jesus rebuked the fever, healed the woman, and immediately she went from a dying invalid to an energetic worker bee. There was no recovery time. Jesus not only healed her from the fever, but also healed her of the weakness that accompanies fevers. 

Even so, no one expected the sick woman to serve them. No one would have thought less of her had she politely thanked Jesus for his kindness then remained in bed for a bit in order to rest up before getting back to work. 

Instead, she couldn’t wait to get to work serving the One who had healed her. She went from her deathbed to ministering in a matter of minutes. 

Your Story

Perhaps you’re in an uncomfortable situation today where you feel like a third wheel. It could be that you’re the mother or mother-in-law who’s dependent on your children to take care of you or provide for you. Or maybe you’re a young woman who longs to be on your own, but for now you’re still living at home with your parents. It could be that you used to have a place of your own, but Covid or other circumstances put you at the mercy of other people. For any number of reasons you could find yourself homeless and living in a place that’s not you’re own. In such a situation, it’s easy to get discouraged, to feel unwanted and unneeded. But this story reminds us that it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you see yourself as a princess trapped in a pauper’s life, you’ll make yourself and everyone around you miserable. But change your mindset and develop a gratitude for your blessings. 

So what if you don’t have your own home? So what, even if you have to share a home with people you don’t like? What would happen if you did a reset and thanked God for what meager blessing you have then began to look for a way to serve those in your household, and ultimately, to serve God? 

What if, instead of lying in bed, wallowing in your misery, you hopped out of bed and began serving instead of expecting to be served? 

I know, it’s not always easy. We much prefer to play the martyr, complaining that life is miserable and no one understands how hard we have it. But if we focus our attention on others and what we can do for them rather than what they can do for us, we’ll make like better not just for ourselves, but for everyone around us. I challenge you to try it and see what happens. I’d love to hear from you when you do.

Prayer

Lord God, thank You for this sweet story of a beloved mother-in-law who may have been unimportant to the world at large, but was loved by her family. Thank You for reminding us how important it is for us to show love to those around us. Thank You for Your healing power. I ask specifically today that if there are those listening who are struggling with their health, that You hear their prayers, that You come to them, take them by the hand, and heal them in a mighty way. Free them from the sickness that encumbers. Give them the strength they need to do the tasks that You’ve set before them. We love You. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Tune in next week when we look at the Widow of Nain, another woman invisible to the world, but loved by God. 

Bible Study

Scripture Background

Matthew 8:14-18
Mark 1:29-34
Luke 4:38-41

Bible Study Review

  1. Where did Jesus meet Peter’s mother-in-law?
  2. What was wrong with her?
  3. What did she do once she was healed?

Thoughts to Ponder

  1. Why did Jesus go to Peter and Andrew’s house?
  2. How did He heal her?
  3. What was special about her healing?

Personal Reflection

  1. What kind of relationship do you have with those in your household?
  2. What do you do when you’re sick?
  3. Do you ever play the martyr to get sympathy or attention?

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