29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
(Mark 1:29-34 NIV)
Yesterday we saw Jesus teach with authority in the synagogue on the Sabbath. He also used His authority to cast out an unclean spirit from a man. The synagogue worshippers were amazed at Jesus’ authority, and news about Him spread like wildfire.
As soon as the synagogue service was over, today’s text says that the group (Jesus, Andrew, Peter, James, and John) went to Peter’s house. If historians are correct, Peter’s house was nearby the synagogue, a mere 83 steps down a narrow alley. Again, the NASB uses the word “immediately” to describe the timeframe – this was the same day.
When they arrive at Peter’s house, they find Peter’s mother-in-law sick in bed with a fever. Was it a cold, or the flu, or an indicator of something much more serious? Doctor Luke tells us that it was a “high fever” (Luke 4:38), which was not a good sign. We just know that they asked Jesus to help her “immediately” (NASB).
The fact that Peter’s mother-in-law was staying with Peter tells us a lot about Peter – mainly his kindness and generosity. In that culture, Peter’s mother-in-law was not his responsibility. Her care would fall to her sons or another male member of the family. But yet, here she was, cared for by Peter and his wife.
So what did Jesus do? Jesus healed her. Not only was the fever gone, but her strength was renewed. Mark records that she began waiting on them, providing hospitality to the guests. Jesus’ healing was as normal for Him as Peter’s mother-in-law being a gracious hostess was for her.
Remember that this was still the Sabbath. Verse 32 says that after the sun had set (when the Sabbath was over), people began bringing their sick and demon-possessed friends and relatives to Jesus for healing. Mark records that the “whole town” (i.e., all the members of the synagogue) gathered at Peter’s door. The narrow alleyway was likely packed with throngs of people seeking to have a moment with Jesus.
Jesus patiently healed the sick and cast out demons. Note what the text doesn’t say – there was no preaching or teaching – just meeting people’s needs. The only restriction Mark tells us about is Jesus not allowing the demons to bear witness about who He was (just like at the synagogue). There would be a day and time for that to take place – a crowded alley after dark in Capernaum was not the time or place.
In today’s passage, we see the love, care, and compassion Jesus had for the people in the community. He likely stayed up late into the night, speaking words of healing and comfort to the broken and hurting.
But yet, Jesus came to earth not to simply give temporary relief to the human condition of suffering through His healing of a few. Rather, Jesus came as the permanent sacrifice for sin, to give His life for all, including you and me.
While the former showed Jesus’ humanity, the latter proved His deity. May we remember that Jesus is not just our brother (in human terms), but our King for eternity.