“Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. ” (Mark 1:30–31, ESV)
Peter’s mother-in-law has a fever! Luke, another gospel writer and a medical doctor, calls it a mega-fever―a great fever. She’s in this grip of a fever. Which means what? Her body is fighting off an infection. Now today, we know something is wrong when we have a fever, but nine times out of ten, we know we are going to get better. But not back then. In fact, it has only been in the last 125 years or so in the civilized world that we have known how to treat a fever properly. Modern medicine is really only about that old. In fact before 1885 in America, medicine was pretty much a guessing game. You might think it is still today―and there is a lot medical research has to learn but until 1885, we had no idea how to treat viruses and fevers. We’ve all heard about people traveling around selling snake oil for this and that ailment. That was what it was like in the world―in civillized Europe and America―up until the late 1800’s and really not till about 1920 or so―less than 100 years ago. A fascinating read on this is a book called The Great Influenza.
What does Jesus do? Verse 31, “And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.” That’s a loving heart. There are 17 miracles recorded in Mark and this by far is the shortest account of anyone of them, but It let’s us into Jesus’ heart―a loving heart. If you take the account of Matthew, Mark and Luke together you find out that Jesus stands close to her bed, takes her by the hand, rebukes the fever and gently raises her up before Peter and his wide-eyed friends.
Jesus shows personal compassion here to a widow. In Jewish culture, men were dominant. Women were secondary. And a woman without a husband was very vulnerable and often neglected. So Jesus, by this miracle, shows not only his sufficient power but his heart of compassion to those on the fringes of society. And we will see this repeatedly in Mark. Jesus is concerned about all people.
“And the fever left her” (v. 31b) . She’s completely healed. Normal temperature, normal energy level, no lingering effects. No liquid or soft liquid diet for a few days. No she is back to full strength instantly! Wow!
“And she began to serve them.” The word here is diakneo . Jesus touches her and heals her and she responds by serving everyone around here. You know there’s a great principle there: Serving the Lord is one of the best ways to thank Him for all He has done for us. The Lord has healed some of you, hasn’t he. The Lord has done some great things for you―given you a job, opened up some opportunity, spared your life, and all sorts of things. What’s your response? Energetic service. You said, “If the Lord does . . . , I’m going to serve Him.” Are you doing that? Peter’s mother in law did. Great principle!
Now think about this. There were no TV dinners back then, no microwaves, no freezers to store prepared food, no grocery stores. So she is preparing this meal from scratch for her family, four hungry fishermen and Jesus. So it was quite a meal. And it was served with love and excitement. I’m sure she said while she was cutting up the vegetables, “Peter, come feel my forehead! Cool! Can you believe it? Andrew, look at me? You saw me! He healed me!” What an afternoon!
What crisis has God delivered you from recently? Health, financial, relational? Have you thanked Him for it? Is your life characterized by faithful service to him?