“And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. 32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. 33 And all the city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.” (Mark 1:29-34)
Having spoken with authority and manifested His Divine sovereignty over the demons of darkness, Jesus left the synagogue. With His friends, He entered into the home of Simon Peter.
According to the Jewish custom of the day, the main Sabbath meal followed immediately after the service, at the sixth hour, or 12 o’clock.
No doubt, the Lord was exhausted at this point. Public duties demand emotional, and intellectual intensity that drains physical strength. Jesus might have wanted to rest, but His spiritual power was needed. A was woman was sick and needed His sympathy. Dr. William Barclay notes several important truths about Christ who agreed to minister at a moment’s notice.
Jesus did not demand an audience in order to be gracious and kind. He was prepared and willing to heal in private as well as in public.
Jesus was never too tired to help. His concern for others took precedence over His own personal needs.
Jesus was a man of ultimate authority. He spoke and the forces of the universe moved at His disposal. The Sovereignty of the Savior was manifested to all by the method He chooses to effect the cure and that was by the power of His personage through the spoken word. The word was the sharp instrument, but the power was in His own Person.
This point is important to understand because the Christian community is afflicted with a teaching that places unusual authority in the power of words. Undue stress is made upon the importance of saying just the right thing. It is called the confession of faith. Of course words are not neutral. Precise words and shades of meaning convey tremendous weight.
Nevertheless, when religious people begin to place undue emphasis upon the power of words, and forget the powerful Personage who has made all things possible, there is reason for concern.
When people subtly begin to have inordinate faith in their prayers, their incantations, and their faith messages, then God reveals how foolish they have become.
Our passage offers a perfect example of this movement toward faith in words, over faith in the Wonder Working God Man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible says that Peter’s mother in law was suffering from a burning fever. This sickness was very prevalent in that part of Galilee. The Talmud actually laid down the proper procedure of dealing with the fever. An iron knife was to be tied by a braid of hair to a thorn bush for three days. On successive days selected Scripture was to be repeated.
Day One Exodus 3:2, 3
Day Two Exodus 3:4
Day Three Exodus 3:5
Then, a magical incantation was to be uttered and the cure was declared to be achieved.
If you believe that sounds silly, it is. Sadly enough, since the first century, there have been religious people who move from faith in the person of Jesus Christ to faith in the power of words. A new theology has arisen to depersonalize Christ in a very clever way. It is called the Word of Faith Movement. Using biblical terminology, the object of faith is transferred from Jesus to words and for this reason.
In John 1:1 the Bible says that, “In the beginning was the word (Logos). The word was with God and the Word was God.” To the Greek mind the word (Logos) was a power, but not a Person. John wanted to make personal to the Greeks, and others, something wonderful about the “word”. John wanted to tell the world, “The word you cherish is not unknown. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory.” (John 1:14) John was talking about
Time has now passed. Two thousand years later, religious people are talking about the “word” again, like the Greeks of old, as a power, not a Person. While Jesus is acknowledged as the Logos, by the Word of Faith Movement, the effort is still made to minimize His personage in order to exalt His power, and that is wrong. It is wrong because we are to love the Lord whether He manifests His power or not. It is the personage of Jesus that is to be precious to us, not His gifts alone. To see and understand this point is imperative.
In the context of the passage, many people came to Jesus. They brought their sick and asked for healing. In tremendous tenderness, Jesus healed the sick.And yet for all of His public and private display of power, the citizens of Capernaum did not love Christ for who He was, as time would tell.
Therefore, consider this concern and answer these questions.
“Why have you come to Christ?”
“Have you come, like the disciples because you know something about the person of Christ? “
“Have you come, like the citizen of Capernaum because you have witnessed the power of Christ?”
There is a difference between the two. The difference is heaven or hell. The difference is discipleship or damnation. The difference is physical health or spiritual wholeness.
The person of Christ is attractive for the few; the power of Christ is appealing for the many. I have met people, and you know them too, who come to Christ because they want His power.
They are sick and want to be healed.
They have a guilty conscience and want forgiveness.
They have a need and want Jesus to take care of it.
But there are others who come to Christ because they have met Him as a person and love Him in the totality of His essence. To be sure, sickness is to be brought to the Savior as well as sin, and personal needs, but, ideally, only because a personal relationship has been cultivated.
Medical missionary Paul Tournier crystallizes this concept when he wrote of how a great spiritual discovery came to him. He used to visit with an old Christian pastor who never let him go without praying with him. Tournier was deeply impressed by the simplicity of the pastor’s prayer. It seemed just a continuation of an intimate conversation with Jesus. Paul Tournier wanted such a life with Christ.
“When I got back home I talked it over with my wife, and together we asked God to give us also the close fellowship with Jesus the old pastor had. Since then he has been the center of my devotion and my traveling companion. He takes pleasure in what I do, and concerns Himself with it. He is a Friend with whom I can discuss everything that happens in my life.
He shares my joy and my pain, my hopes, and fears.”
That is the secret of the happy Christian life.
Very early on, the disciples learned the essence of the Christian life, and they practiced what they learned. The hymn writer summarizes it all in seven words,
“Take it to the Lord in prayer.”
That is what the disciples did.
“Lord, Simon’s mother in law is very sick. Lord, can you help?”
In like manner we must tell Jesus what concerns us. Christ may not move to help unless help is requested. James said that we have not because we ask not. We must tell Jesus about ourselves and about others for life is not to be totally self-centered.
The disciples were concerned about Peter’s mother in law. The biblical mandate is to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who are hurting. When Peter’s mother in law was healed by a ministry of intercession and by the power of a kind person, the Bible says that she ministered unto them. Peter’s mother in law probably fixed a meal. She wanted to show her gratitude to all others for their kind concern, and a larger principle is established. She had been saved to serve. What was in it for her? Nothing but the joy of honoring others who honored her.
In like manner, the gospel is to be preached, not for financial gain but in faithfulness to the will of the Lord. Ministries are to be established to serve others. When the Lord is present in a ministry others will be attracted to His power and Personage.
The Bible says that, “When evening had come and the sun had set, they kept bringing to Him all those who were ill and demon possessed.” Like wildfire, the deeds of Jesus spread through the town. By 6:00 PM the place was crowded with souls seeking the healing touch of the Saviour.
The people had waited until evening because the Law prohibited the carrying of any burden through a town on the Sabbath day. Even a sick person was considered a burden. So the people waited until the first moment they could move towards the Master.
When they finally went to Jesus, He healed many that were sick. Concerning the healing power of Christ notice:
The diseases were real.
The diseases were of a variety of sorts
The diseases were distinguished between organic illnesses and demonic affliction.
The cures were immediate.
The cures were permanent.
The cures were performed by Divine power apart from theatrical stunts.
The cures produced no acts of immodesty or public expressions of exhibitionism.
The miracles that Jesus performed proved once more that He was the Master of the moment. Little by little, Christ was authenticating His claim to be the Son of God. The demons already knew it for Jesus did not allow them to speak. Christ wanted no false words of testimony as the demon in the synagogue had uttered. Jesus just wanted to be the Master of the Moment. That is what Christ wants to do with you and me. He wants to fellowship with us. He wants to help our needs. He is willing to receive our service and to demonstrate grace to others. Our hearts can only say, “Hallelluia, what a Savior!”