Summary: We cannot expect to help others follow Christ well, if we haven’t learned how to do it ourselves. We must give attention to our own spiritual walk if we are to be effective disciples of Christ.
Personal Faith First
Imagine taking your car to be fixed by someone who has not prepared himself in car repair.
Yep, that’s a Chevy!
If that person’s car is sitting on blocks and the pieces are strewn about the yard, you might have questions.
What is that car all about, an on going project?
Nah, I took it apart last night. It wouldn’t start. Haven’t figured out what all that stuff does yet.
Your next line might be something like:
Well, I was just stopping to say hi. Hope you have a happy New Year.
You would then direct the tow truck to take your car to another part of town. We only go to Mechanics who know what makes a car tick through experience or at least some study in the field. We also cannot expect to help others follow Christ well, if we haven’t learned how to do it ourselves. Jesus started Peter off with a personal lesson.
Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them. Luke 4:38-39 (NIV)
Jesus stayed with Peter
What is Jesus doing? Jesus has already done a number of things with Peter.
• Called him three times
• He fished with him
• Taught from his boat
• Demonstrated miracles to him
Jesus is establishing Himself with Peter. He knew that it did not matter what He said or taught, with a man like Peter, it had to be more personal. In modern leadership language we would say
They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
Jesus was so directly involved in Peter’s life that there was no place Peter could go to get away.
• Jesus had attracted his brother
• Jesus had taken over his boat
• Jesus had taught him how to fish
• Jesus was now bonding with his wife’s family
Jesus was not content to be a great man that Peter ran into a few times, or to be a distant but significant teacher in Peter’s life. He wanted to be a personal mentor. The only way that was going to happen was for Jesus to be involved in Peter’s life.
He gave attention to Peter’s family
This is the second or third miracle Luke mentions. When we look at it in the broader gospel context, we know that there were others too.
But that was impersonal. Family was important to Jesus. Since the gospels focus on His public ministry, we don’t see His family much. However, if we compare the role of Jesus’ family and those of Peter and John in the gospels, with the role of family in, for example, Moses’ accounts, we see proportionally much less of Moses’ family ... with the exception of Aaron who was essentially a partner in ministry.
• Jesus’ mother and brothers
• Mary, Martha and Lazarus
• Peter’s mother-in-law
• James and John’s mother and father
are all given significant space in the gospels. When Jesus is in the middle of ministry, these people crop up everywhere. Their needs and concerns form an integral part of Jesus’ approach to ministry. He heals their illnesses (even raising Lazarus). He addresses their questions, and in so doing establishes important spiritual truths. His relationship to them is crucial to His identity.
Jesus is showing Peter in this act of healing, that his family is important ... that Peter would not be who he is, or doing what he is doing if it was not for his family. What better way for Peter’s ministry with Jesus to be validated in his family than for his wife’s mother to directly experience the power of that ministry?
Jesus treated her illness seriously
The word "rebuke" suggests that Jesus treated the fever as if it were a person. The same way Jesus rebuked the pharisees and the demons that possessed people, he rebuked the fever. He did this with the sea later. He commanded it to be still as if it were a person. The suggestion is like a command with a threat attached.
Jesus told the fever, "Get out and don’t come back or else."
His power was such that the fever left immediately and completely so that Peter’s mom was able to get up and make dinner. These are the same kind of results that Jesus saw everywhere and with every patient He healed.
However, Jesus did not neglect his inner circle in favor of others. Ministers sometimes neglect their own families to reach out to others.