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On your Mark

Out of bed

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. (Mark 1:29-31, NIV)

Mark is tantalizingly brief in his account of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. He doesn’t even give us her name.

It’s a mystery also as to why Jesus didn’t go to the home of James and John. After all, they too lived in Capernaum. Why go to Simon and Andrew’s home when the hostess is sick in bed? In fact, the third Gospel tells us one additional detail — she had a high fever. You would expect an exact diagnosis from the medical doctor, Luke (Luke 4:38)!

Not only was Peter’s mother-in-law raging with fever, but Jesus doesn’t come to her home alone — He enters with a group of people about Him, simply identified by Mark as “they went with him.”

So, what’s going on here?

I suspect a correlation between what had just happened in the synagogue with the deliverance of the demoniac and an expectation on the part of Jesus’ disciples that if He could exorcise an evil spirit then He might also be able to cure a sickness.

Here is an important lesson for us in our faith journey. We must connect the Lord’s past deeds to our present situation. So many times when we are in an immediate crisis we forget that the Lord has helped us in the past. When we do not remember we become filled with fear rather than faith.

I remember a time I was in “bed” — not literally with a high fever like Peter’s mother-in-law, but proverbially with a depression that hung on for a couple of years. I wish my cure had been as quick as this healing, but I see a similar process that Jesus used both for me and for this woman.

He comes to us. That’s first and foremost. He is in our “house,” in our lives. He is not absent.

Then, He takes us by the hand. There’s a gospel chorus that says, “He touched me.” I know personally the touch of that hand. Oh, not the physical hand, but I do know Jesus pulled me out of the depths.

When Jesus took Peter’s mother-in-law’s hand, He didn’t just hold it. No, He didn’t stop there. He “helped her up.” Jesus will lift you, whether through process of time or immediacy of action. The songwriter put it well, “He brought me out of the miry clay, He set my feet on the rock to stay.”

Mark does not say the fever left her and then she got up, but the reverse. She got up and the fever left her. All during depression, I would say, “What would I do today if I weren’t depressed?” And, I got out of bed and fulfilled my duties. Over time, the “fever” left me!

The last time we see Peter’s mother-in-law she is well and serving. That’s the whole purpose in Jesus’ work in our lives — that we might be about the work of caring for others.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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