Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Jesus holds power over all the diseases & afflictions of man.

MATTHEW 8: 14-17


[Isaiah 53:1-8]

After recounting the stories of an unnamed leper and an anonymous centurion, Matthew includes a brief account of a family member in Jesus’ inner circle. This is the third in the triplet of healing miracles which Matthew groups together. He groups them together because of the type of event more than when they occurred. The first healing was leprosy, then paralysis, and now fever. Jesus’ healings were the fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus holds power over all the diseases and afflictions of man (CIT). Jesus identification with man’s sufferings fully actuated in His substitutionary atonement on the cross gave Him authority over diseases and demons [and sins].



In verse 14 we encounter Peter’s mother-in-law debilitated with a severe fever. “When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever.”

From John 1:41 we learn that Peter came from Bethsaida, a fishing village on the north shore of Galilee just east of the Jordan. Mark 1:29 places the home of Peter in Capernaum, and 1 Corinthians 9:5 tells us that Peter was married. Jesus entered the home of Peter where Peter’s wife and children lived. [It’s possible that excavations in Capernaum have uncovered the foundations of this very house.] Jesus then found Peter’s mother-in-law lying sick in bed with fever after several unnamed friends or relatives request He heal her [as is learned from the parallel accounts in Luke 4:38 & Mark 1:30].

Notice Peter was married. It seems strange that our Catholic friends insists on a vow of poverty and celibacy of the clergy when Peter himself, whom they teach was the first pope, from whom the popes imagine themselves to be his successors, had a wife, a mother-in-law, and a house. It seems that the Apostles were married men with the exception of Paul.

Peter’s mother-in-law was bedridden with fever. Fever was considered a disease. [Our English word fever is from the German word feuer, fire, like the Greek πυρ]. The verb tense [perf. pass. ptc] indicates that she had been laying sick for some time. The fever was probably connected with malaria which was common in the area because of the marshes near the mouth of the Jordan.

Yes, believers become ill too (Elisha- 2 Kings 13:14; Hezekiah- 2 Kings 20:1; Dorcas - Acts 9: 36,37; Paul-Gal. 4:13, Ephaphrodites-Phil 2:25-27, Timothy-1 Tim. 5:23, 2 Tim. 4:20). Believers even get sick enough to die.

In verse 15 Jesus’ touch brought healing from the fever, but a further miracle was also evident. “touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him.”

In loving compassion the Great Physician touched her hand and there is healing in His touch. Our Lord several times worked miracles without touching and even from a distance, as He just did with the centurion’s servant. Usually though He performed some act such as touching which would make it evident to all that He was the cause of the miraculous cure.

To touch a person with fever was prohibited by Jewish law. In fact Jews rarely touched women [wanting to remain pure from menstrual impurity, Lev. 15:19]. Here again we see Jesus was actively invading the realm of Satan’s control in spite of Jewish custom or tradition.

The woman was also given strength to get up from her bed and immediately be involved in work, waiting (diēonei, “serving”) on the Lord and the many disciples who were still actively following Him. Not only did the fever leave her, but the weakness which follows fever left her also. She was at once prepared for active exertion. [The Greek tense (imperf. act ind) indicates that her service to Him was continuous]. Usually when a fever leaves, one’s body is weak for some time, but that was not true here. The immediate result of Jesus’ touch and words was that she arose and waited on Him.

The touch of Jesus transformed the situation from one in which He served her to one in which she served Him. You can tell a person who has been truly touched by Jesus because he or she will begin to minister. When the Lord touches you, you can’t help but say, “To whom can I reach out and help?”

Isn’t that what should happen? All those who have been touched by Jesus in some form or fashion should arise in gratitude and minister to Him and for Him. To not respond in service to Jesus’ healing is self-centered living from a self-centered life. We should each respond in service according to the gifts and calling He has given us.

Has God ever helped you through a dangerous or difficult situation? If so you should ask Him, “How can I express my gratitude to You?” Even if He has never touched you with His healing hand because of His promised rewards in His kingdom, we should all look for ways to serve Him and His followers now.

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