Summary: Almost no information exists concerning Peter’s wife, but even from this silence we may glean lessons for the role of the minister’s wife.
"Serving in the Shadows" COPY
"When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him."
(Also found in Mk. 1 and Lk. 4 - Mk. 1:29-31, As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. Lk. 4:38-39, 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.)
1 Cor. 9:5
"Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas ?"
Through the years I have often thought, as I am sure you have, of the influence wives have on their husbands. The old saying, ‘the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world’ is usually used in reference to mothers. But I don’t have to tell you that she also has a powerful, persuasive influence with her husband!
I have read quite a bit on the life of Abraham Lincoln. And it seems to be common consensus that had he not wed Mary Todd, he probably would not have become our 16th president. Her influence and ambition seem to have pushed him toward the presidency.
The Scriptures are also quite telling in regards to the influence a wife has with her husband. It’s not fair to only use the example of Eve, because although her influence was tremendous, it was negative.
But there are other wives in the Bible whose persuasions were brought to bear on their husbands.
Sarah had great influence with Abraham. We have often heard reference made to Peter’s statement that Sarah called Abraham "lord." But remember how persuasive she could be with her "lord."
And who can forget the wonderful way that beautiful, young Esther swayed her husband even though he was a powerful king? Her influence had an affect on the Persian empire and it saved her own people from extermination.
We even read that Pilate’s wife tried to influence her husband’s decision on the day of Jesus’ trial. Matthew says she, "... sent him this message: ‘Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.’" (Mt. 27:19)
But the woman I want to speak to you about Peter’s wife. The two passages we read earlier are the only references made to Peter’s wife in the New Testament. And they are so vague and sketchy that I call them "almost references" or "nearly references." Yet even with so little information, this first-century preacher’s wife offers a few lessons from which we may learn. I believe her nearly silent witness will be an encouragement to those of us who minister in circumstances similar to hers in the 21st century.
SERVING IN OBSCURITY
Notice first of all that she served in the shadow of obscurity.
Peter’s wife - I call her Mrs. Simon- (or, if you prefer, Mrs. Bar- Jonah, Mrs. Cephas, Mrs. Peter) lived in Capernaum, a city located on the Northwestern shore of the sea of Galilee. And although Capernaum is always referred to as a city in the New Testament, it doesn’t seem to have been a very large city. The city of Capernaum could boast a tax booth (which was for a time monitored by Matthew), it housed a regiment of Roman soldiers, and a synagogue. If Mrs. Simon’s home was like most of the houses in Capernaum, it would have been built of black basalt - a kind of dense, volcanic rock. And some of you thought your parsonage was hard to decorate!
(Though the houses in Capernaum were built of black basalt, the synagogue, which was built by a centurion of king Herod Antipas, was built of white marble. It was in the synagogue of Capernaum that Jesus preached His sermon on the Bread of Life in John 6.)
Maybe you noticed that the description I’ve given of Capernaum is not too different from the sort of description that could be given of the towns where many of you live. It sounds like any number of small places in rural or suburban America. We might say, "Our town has a post office, a National Guard armory, and a little white church on main street."