“My chains fell off; my heart was free. I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.” Charles Wesley.

The lyric line above from Charles Wesley’s hymn reminds us of God’s immaculate and unwavering love for humanity. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus was welcomed to the warmth of Peter’s home hospitality and discovered that his mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever (Mk 1:29-34). The phrase “sick with a fever” is a general descriptor used in Graeco-Roman healing narratives for various illnesses. Many today are even in the church with a range of illnesses – physical and spiritual – a fever of sin, pride, immorality, and unbelief. Theologically, in the gospel of Mark, ‘disease is a mark of the presence of evil or ‘dis-ease’. Jesus’s liberation of this woman means she is free to become a disciple of the Christ she serves.’ 

As a responsible man, Peter took care of his wife and mother-in-law in his home. It is important to note that Peter ‘navigated his love for his wife from Herod’s lineage alongside his heavy involvement with Jesus’s ministry, later becoming the Rock onto which Jesus would build His Church.’ Peter’s testimonies on his ‘beautiful, loving wife who essentially provides patience, reason, comfort and sympathy to perfectly offset his impulsive and moody personality’ points to ‘that modest woman of appearance and the honoured “weaker” vessel whom Peter compliments in 1 Peter letter to the Dispersion: “Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3-4). Peter’s marriage, life, and ministry were not consumed nor defined by his link to Herod’s family. Instead, he was cured and enriched as the first disciple to emphatically state that Jesus is the “Christ of God” (Luke 9: 20)

The Gospel of Mark emphasises the servant nature of the story with the idea of taking the woman’s hand and helping her stand up. Moreover, she, in turn, serves him in gratitude. As soon as Jesus heals her, she serves. A miracle is considered an event that occurs outside the bounds of natural law. The fifth documented miracle of Jesus was the healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell the story and highlight Peter’s mother-in-law of all the hundreds or thousands of people Jesus healed (Lk 4:38-41). Beyond simply reinforcing the woman’s place and role in serving. The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law describes Jesus himself when he explains to his disciples that “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:43-45). True greatness is not a matter of leadership, authority, ability, or high personal achievement. True greatness is an attitude of heart that desires to serve God’s purposes and benefit others. Accomplishing God’s purposes, leading others into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and pleasing Him are the most significant rewards for those who are truly remarkable in God’s eyes (Lk 22:24-30).

Peter’s mother-in-law’s response to Jesus healing her is a model for all of us. In Jesus’s kingdom, serving is everybody’s work, but only the cure can give Christ-centred care beyond earthly service. Jesus, the gracious Healer, demonstrates His concern and care, covering spiritual healing and the woman’s physical healing. 

Jesus has authority over sickness – the deaf hear – the blind see – the lame leap – indeed, our Lord “hailed” from heaven with healing in His hands. His authority and power extend to every realm of life, church, and nation. Wherever Christ is present or goes, so also goes well, and He leaves a delightfully fragrant aroma behind Him. 

The woman was not only healed but strengthened to serve as well. The woman’s miraculous healing teaches us the effects of encountering Jesus. We are always changed when we meet Him. Jesus never leaves us here powerless; therefore, we are not to be “do-less.” Just as Jesus now becomes the woman’s first consideration, He must also be our first consideration, personally and corporately. Beloved, is Jesus your first consideration as well? 

When we love Jesus, we manifest this by loving and serving others in truth and spirit. Service will always be the overflow that pours forth from a life that is filled with love and devotion for the Master. Jesus’ cure equips us for action. Are you cured spiritually, emotionally, and physically? Are you cured of unforgiveness, lying, and causing division in the Body of Christ? Christian service is a natural part of the believer’s life – we serve Him out of the motivation of absolute love, not from the Law. Christian service is a love gift from a nature that has heard the call and felt the touch of God. 

Have you encountered Jesus? Join me to prayerfully sing one of the hymns by Elisha Hoffman (1839-1929) for healing and renewal in serving Jesus and the good works He has called you to do.

1 Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless?
Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

2 Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? [Chorus]

3 When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb? [Chorus]

4 Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
O be washed in the blood of the Lamb! [Chorus]