Summary: This sermon deals with the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and how we can relate to this miracle story.
TOUCHED BY THE SAVIOR
Text: Mark 1:29 – 39
In this story, there is more than one setting and more than one story. Someone (Larry W. Hurtado) has pointed out that “Several times Mark connects two stories by enclosing one within another, his intent being to use the two stories to cast light on each other.” (Larry W. Hurtado. . New Internationals Biblical: Mark. Sixth printing. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004, p. 12). One setting in this story is the home of Peter’s mother-in-law. The other setting is when Jesus seeks solitude to pray. Yet, there is one universal thing that can be drawn from everyone in the story which is the fact that their relationship with Jesus “touched” their lives. How many people are there in the world today who hunger for a healing touch?
It is easy to focus on the information part of the story than it is to find where we are in this story as it relates to us today. If there were two things that we need to pull from this story, then what would they be? It seems that the two things that we need to pull from this story are Jesus’ ministry and Jesus’ prayer life. As we see how the first chapter of Mark unfolds, we can see Jesus in ministry (teaching and healing) and His prayer life. We will see how these two stories are connected as we follow Jesus’ footsteps through this story.
THE HOME OF PETER’S MOTHER-IN-LAW
Perhaps there was someone in the house who wondered if her illness was a punishment. There are times when people look at the circumstances of another person or other people and draw the conclusion that sickness is a punishment---God’s punishment for sin. In the Old Testament Job had friends who looked at sickness as God’s punishment for sin. Even Jesus’ own disciples shared this view as demonstrated in John 9:2 in the story of the man who was born blind. Their question about the cause of this man’s blindness illustrates this: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered them in John 9:3 and said neither. Jesus explained how this man’s blindness enabled God’s glory to be revealed.
The condition of Peter’s mother-in-law was serious because she had a fever. According to Gospel of Luke, her fever must have been serious because it was described as “a great fever” in the King James version (Luke 4:38). We have to remember that they did not have Tylenol to help reduce fevers like we do in modern day. Just think about when you have had a bad fever. How did it make you feel? A fever can zap you of your strength. That must have been the case with Peter’s mother-in-law because she was in bed. Could it be that she had a fever that was generated by the marshy land of Tabiga which was common to the spring time of the year? (Herbert Lockyer. All The Miracles Of The Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1961, p. 171). All we know is that she is sick at home in bed with a “great fever”.
Jesus intervened, took her by the hand and lifted her up and the fever left her (Mark1:31). Jesus healed her. After Jesus healed her, she began to serve others. Those whose lives have been touched by Jesus usually begin to serve Jesus as disciples. Others around begin to know that they are disciples by the ways that they demonstrate the love of Jesus in their service.
As we know this was not the only time that the Bible mentions how touch was used in healing someone who was ill. We sometimes underestimate the power of a healing touch. Jesus touched lepers, blind people, and people who were sick like Peter’s mother-in-law when He was healing them. It is possible for people to spend a lifetime without touching another person physically or spiritually as someone (Thomas G. Wilbanks) once pointed out. We would have to agree with him in his conclusion that there are different ways to give a “healing touch” depending on the circumstances. We can bless and heal, with the touch of the hand, a kiss, a hug, or thoughtfully spoken words. (Jim & Doris Morentz. eds. Minister’s Annual: Preaching In 1989. Thomas G. Wilbanks. “Hold My Hand”. Nashville: Abingdon press, 1988, p. 275). Parents, how many times did your children ask you to kiss their hurt spot to make it feel better?
Have you ever experienced the power of healing words that were either spoken to you or that you spoke to another? We must admit that there are also times when our actions speak louder than words. “Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once told about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child; the winner was a four-year-old boy. His next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into his gentleman’s yard, climbed into his lap and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing. I just helped him cry." ” (Steve May. The Story File. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000, p. 65). How many times has someone helped you cry? How many times have you helped some one cry in the same kinds of circumstances?