Matthew 8:14-17

When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his 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 serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Matthew 8:14-17

In the gospel of Mark, immediately after his baptism and testing in the wilderness, still in the first chapter, Jesus invites a group of disciples to follow him, heals a man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue, and then heals Peter’s mother-in-law. All of that done by the 31st verse. Matthew tells the same stories but it takes him eight chapters to get there. Why?

Because Matthew is writing at a different time, to a different audience, for a different purpose. Matthew still wants us to hear the story of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law but he wants us to see it in the context of a wider presentation of who Jesus is. For Matthew, the healing ministry of Jesus is both evidence of the truth of his teaching ministry and a sign to his Jewish readers that Jesus is the long promised Messiah. Jesus fulfills the scriptures, fulfills the prophecies, even as he fulfills the law.

Sometimes I read healing stories like this and I remember an old spiritual that I first learned when I was in grade school. A public school in North Dakota. The chorus says, “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.” I would grow up to be an English major in college with an appreciation for alliteration. Linking and then rhyming words like “wounded whole” and “sin-sick soul” would stick with me forever.

Since then I have had plenty of experience with woundedness and sin-sick souls. I have had more than one mother-in-law. My life has given me an ever broader context to appreciate the hope that Jesus brings.

This story always intrigues me with the reality that there is much that we don’t know about the lives of the disciples of Jesus – their own histories, families, and futures. And we won’t ever know those things. But we’re told what we need to know. Jesus heals and people respond.

Jesus heals and the mother-in-law rises to serve them. Jesus heals and the locals bring crowds of sick and hurting people to Jesus. Jesus heals and soon the powerful will array against him.

Some things never change. And in that, we are blessed.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, you don’t tell us her name but you let us know you healed her. You don’t tell us much about those first disciples but you let us know they followed you. Often they didn’t understand you and eventually they all let you down. But you didn’t let them go. Come to us in our woundedness and make us whole. Come to us where we are sin-sick and save us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “Matthew 8:14-17”

  1. Dave Armstrong Says:

    Well said!

  2. Carolee Groux Says:

    Jesus hears us. He helps and heals us. He gives us hope, heart, and hearkens us to follow Him.

    I like alliteration too Pr Kerry.

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