By Elizabeth Prata
Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. (Mark 1:30-31)
Luke 4:38-40, Matthew 8:14-15 repeat the same incident and in the same way, with Dr. Luke adding that the fever was high, and that others in the house advocated for her to Jesus.
I wasn’t saved by the grace of Jesus until I was 42 years old. I grew up in the sexual revolution and feminist revolution of the 1960s and ’70s, and my mother was a feminist. I disbelieved feminism in the main, but my tender years couldn’t withstand all of it, so I was tainted by its tenets to a degree.
I also didn’t read the Bible nor owned one, nor knew anyone who did. In New England it is easy to escape ‘Jesus things.’ But occasionally I’d come across a verse or so and at one time I came across the verse above.
I mocked it. I mocked it hard. I didn’t focus on the deity of Jesus, who could rebuke a fever and heal a very ill woman instantly. I didn’t focus on the miracle of His willingness to serve in healing, and on the Sabbath no less. I mocked the fact that of course the woman had to serve. In feminism, serving is anathema. Serving is demeaning. Women didn’t serve. They led.
I thought, “Of course she got up and served, women always do! What were the men doing, Huh? HUH!?” I failed to notice that she had been at death’s door moments before and now was well enough to get up and resume her tasks. I focused on her serving as a demeaning thing.
The notion of serving to an unsaved person is odious. In fact, I grew up in an environment where the mother-in-law’s illness and recovery would have been an excuse to BE served. “I was sick, you know! Serve me! Where’s the fainting couch?” It would have been milked to the utmost.
But the healings of Jesus were immediate and total. They were done by His grace and willingness to heal. What other response is proper for when the One True God stands over you, takes your hand, and instantly heals you? None! Serving the One True God is the only response.
Her fever was high and she had taken to her bed. People living at that time didn’t usually allow illness to interfere with their daily tasks. The cows still needed milking, the sheep still needed watching, the meals still must be cooked…since Peter’s mother-in-law was in bed this indicated a very dire situation, perhaps she was even near death.
Of course she was grateful, of course she served Jesus and of course her hospitality would impel her to serve the guests in her house. That she served is not only an indication of her emotional state, of gratitude, but of her physical state, of wellness.
“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28). Service was Jesus’ aim and goal during his first coming. Service should be our aim and goal during our life. Our gratitude for our healing should be neverending. He healed our main problem- sin and separation from God. He healed us so that we may commune with Him, serve Him, and glorify Him as His trophies of grace. While the notion of serving is anathema to the unsaved, especially feminists, it should be primary on our mind.
I fail at this myself, wanting comfort, wanting my own free time, wanting anything except what I should do. I’m comforted by the fact that sometimes even Paul said he hated that he did what he didn’t want to do. (Romans 7:15-20). It’s not an excuse though. We should do what we should.
I look at Simon’s Mother-in-law differently now. I am grateful the vestiges of secular philosophies do not cloud my thinking and attitude any more. I am glad to see Jesus clearly. And that is the greatest gift.