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.
When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
“He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.”
The main point in this short passage comes right at the end, in the quotation from Isaiah’s prophecy. But before we get that far, there are several things that stand out.
(1) All of this takes place on a very intimate scale, flowing out of friendship and relationship. The Sermon on the Mount involved wide-open spaces and the nameless masses. This, now, is radically scaled-down, compressed into the confines (and comfort) of Peter’s own home, intimately focused on the sick-bed of his wife’s mother. Jesus has entered right in, bringing his personal, focused attention.
(2) The diminished scale continues even as the crowds come that evening for healing. I imagine it all happening at Peter’s front door (did he have a porch?). There were “many” who came, but the confined space made it very personal, as one after another stepped forward into contact with the Master.
(3) The simplicity of Jesus’ ministry strikes me. The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, instantly transformative, happens so simply. It’s when “he touched her hand.” That’s all it took. One touch. The fever left her, and she re-engaged in life. Similarly, in the evening, those suffering from demon oppression were released as Jesus,“with a word,”drove the spirits out. Again, so simple. Yet so powerful. Release and healing by Jesus’ hand and voice.
(4) I’m struck, too, by the scope of his activity. He “healed all the sick” – no one was left out. That wasn’t always the case – think of the crowd of invalids at the Pool of Bethesda in John 6, yet Jesus healed just the one lame man. But here he embraces “all.” They came seeking, and they leave rewarded.
Which is a powerful set-up for the punchline of the piece. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” It’s so clear and concrete in this unfolding event at Peter’s house. Each need is met. Each infirmity is lifted, each disease carried. A mother-in-law is restored to active participation in the household. The demon-possessed are set free. The sick are healed.
All of it, of course, is tangible expression of that larger healing and release which was coming later at the cross, when Jesus “was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). That healing is for each one, personally applied, individually given, available for all who will come and receive.
The evening at Peter’s front door shines a light into all eternity.
Lord Jesus, healer of my soul, thank you for your power and compassion and focused attention. Praise you for the healing you worked on that evening so long ago. Praise you for the healing you continue to work now. I come to you afresh, eager for your ongoing touch. Amen.
Reflect: If you know Jesus as your Saviour, give thanks for the healing you have received for all eternity. So good. (If never before, come to him now.) Then, in the ongoing needs of daily life, where do you need healing (body, mind, soul, spirit) right now? Bring it all to Jesus.