Notes on Mark’s Gospel (17)

“On Your Mark”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

The Power to Heal (Chapter 1 Verses 29-34)

The other gospel writers place certain events in a different order, and of course for different reasons. This incident which includes the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law we find in the others too (Matthew 8.14-17; Luke 4.38-41). But the order of events seems to be something like the following; the Sermon on the Mount on the Sabbath morning; the leper healed on the way from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 8.1f); the Centurion’s servant healed entering Capernaum (Matthew 8.5f); Jesus casts out the demons in the synagogue; then at the close of the Sabbath day Jesus goes to Peter’s house and heals Peter’s mother-in-law, followed by a profusion of miracles (Matthew 8.16; Mark 1.32-34; Luke 4.40-41). A busy-ish day? But as they move from the Synagogue to the house of Andrew and Simon, there is the Lord plus four disciples together (v29). A bit of fellowship at the end of a busy days’ ministry, you can’t beat it. There would probably be a meal involved too. On arrival, perhaps, in the most natural way, questioning the whereabouts of the hostess, the Lord is informed of her incapacitating sickness (v30). Now there are some important lessons here for us. The first one is that Peter was married, the fact that he has a mother-in-law necessitates that. In fact we are told that Peter’s wife accompanied him on some of his missionary journeys (1Corinthians 9.5). Now I say it is important, for the Roman Catholic Church regards Peter as its first Pope, and teaches, demands celibacy of its priesthood, supposedly, on the basis that Peter himself was celibate. Well as you can see here, that teaching has no foundation in Scripture. That is not just scoring points, or bashing someone else’s religious beliefs. It is important, vital, because as we have seen in recent days when the God-given sexual desires of people are suppressed in this way, they will breakout, rest assured, in all sorts of ungodly and immoral ways. Wrong teaching is always a danger.

There is one other important point, that is, the natural way in which this incident came about, Jesus is invited for a meal, on arrival finds the hostess ill, asks to see her, and heals her. There appears to be no request for Jesus to come and heal her, and most certainly no special meeting called for the event. It is not stage-managed, but spontaneous. The fever Luke tells us (Luke 4.38), is a high, a great one, which of course in those days, with limited medical resources, would be quite dangerous. But you see the distinction between this incident and the last, it is clearly stated the woman was sick, in the previous one, the man was filled with evil, unclean spirits. The Scripture never mixes, confuses the two. But we learn most certainly from Scripture, it is never, never wrong to pray for someone to be made well (James 5.13-15).

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)

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