Healed to Serve: Luke 4:38-39

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After Jesus finished healing at the synagogue, Luke’s gospel then tells us about someone else who needs healing. We also discover something we don’t often think of when we think of Jesus’ disciples, and we see the best response we can have when God has healed us. And this is all shared in just two short verses.

Let’s read this short, two-verse passage and discover some amazing truths about God’s character, Jesus’ love for us, and our response. Our passage is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 4, and we will be reading it from the New International Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 38, Luke tells us that::

38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

In these two verses, we discover many things. In the first verse, we read that Jesus headed home with Simon after the synagogue service was finished, and when we compare this passage to Matthew and Mark, this Simon is Simon Peter, the disciple of Jesus. While Jesus and the disciples are at Simon’s home, we learn that Simon has a mother-in-law who has a fever.

It isn’t common to think of the disciples as being married and/or having families, but it is possible that some of them did. In this case, Simon Peter has a mother-in-law and the only way you have a mother-in-law is if you have a wife. Since this was Simon Peter’s home, it is likely that Simon’s wife was taking care of her mother even though she isn’t mentioned in this event.

When Jesus arrived, He is asked to help, and while help could mean a lot of things in this context, I believe Simon is asking for a miracle. Up to this point, Jesus has turned water into wine, He has cast out a demon, and He has promised a father that his son would be healed. While the gospels were written after the events had happened, it is unclear if word had returned to Jesus and the disciples that the long-distant miraculous healing had worked. All this is to say that Simon’s request for help might refer to a miracle, but it’s possible that he hasn’t seen any healing miracles at this point to base his faith on.

In the context of where this miracle is placed in the gospels, Peter simply places His faith in Jesus, specifically in who Jesus is, and not on a track record of seeing Jesus heal others. Having faith in Jesus because of who Jesus is and not what He can do is the way God wants us to have faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus shouldn’t be self-serving even if we occasionally ask for help in a personal way.

In the second verse of our passage, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, and she “got up at once and began to wait on them”. (v. 39)

This event ends with one of the most appropriate responses we can see when God has touched someone’s life. Immediately following being healed, Peter’s mother-in-law gets up and says “thank you” by serving Jesus and the group of disciples. One of the most appropriate ways of saying “thank you” to Jesus and to God for everything He has done for you and I is through serving Him.

While the other primary way we can give God thanks is by praising Him and giving Him the credit for this miracle, those things are immediate responses, and responses of a temporary nature. Serving lasts longer and actions speak louder than words. In the case of us living over 2,000 years later, we serve God through serving others, and when we serve those who cannot repay us with more than a “thank you”, we are serving as God has called us to serve.

It is also interesting that this miracle would have happened on a Sabbath afternoon. That morning, Jesus and the early disciples were worshiping at the synagogue, and this happened immediately following this. This detail is interesting for two reasons. First, this detail is interesting because this was still the day set apart for rest, and on this day, Jesus should be resting. Healing people didn’t exert the same level of sweat as plowing a field or lifting a hammer, but it was one thing Jesus was known for, and while Jesus had been a carpenter before starting His public ministry, healing people became what He was known for leading up to His death.

This first detail teaches us that: Jesus helps others because He can and because they need help. Jesus wasn’t interested in making people wait because He needed rest and Jesus was more than willing to use the time set aside for resting to help those who needed help. We don’t have any indication that Peter’s mother-in-law would have died if Jesus had waited, but waiting to heal someone isn’t the impression Jesus wants us to have about God’s love for us. God wants us to know that He is ready and willing to help us when we need help, and He never waits when there isn’t a good reason.

The second detail is that when Peter’s mother-in-law is healed, she gets up and serves Jesus and the disciples. This serving is also not resting, but we don’t see any hint of judgment or correction given from Jesus regarding this response. Perhaps this service didn’t draw negative light because it was a normal level of service for someone who was a host or hostess, and perhaps because there were no Pharisees around to look down on this healing miracle and the response it prompted.

In these two short verses, we discover how God is more than willing to help us when we need help, and that serving God is an appropriate way to say “thank you” for what He has done for us. And all of this help, service, and response is more than acceptable on the day God set aside for worship and rest.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always continue to seek God first and place Him first in your life. Don’t be afraid of asking God for help and don’t be afraid of saying “thank you” to God through serving Him and helping others.

Also, be sure to pray and study the Bible for yourself to personally grow closer to God each and every day. While other people can give you things to think about, always filter what you learn through the lens of the Bible – especially for the subject matters the Bible speaks most clearly about.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, or chicken out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of Miracles – Episode 7: When Jesus is invited home after worshiping in the synagogue, He learns that someone close to Simon Peter needs help. But it is still the Sabbath, which is the day set apart for resting. What will Jesus do?

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