Truth Taught- Jesus’ might acts of healing point to ultimate healing where our sin is removed and we are made new.
From the human side, Suffering terribly, Ultimate death, Hopelessness have so far summed up the two healings we looked at so far in this set of three that Matthew highlights for us, namely, the leper, the Centurion’s servant, and today, Peter’s mother-in-law.
From Jesus’ perspective we see a merciful and loving Savior who takes the initiative to heal. We see that He doesn’t even wait around to officially be asked but moves in compassion to care for those in need. We see that our Lord has the power to heal and is willing to heal. Finally, the healing is immediate. No doctor’s, medicine or treatment is needed. No therapy after is included in the treatment. These people are immediately healed.
There are multiple important points and comparisons we could point out with these three specific healings. One more I’d like to mention is the fact that in all three there is God’s Word involved. God’s Word when Jesus says things like I am willing, be cleansed or may it be done for you as you have believed and with the cluster of healings we read that He cast out demons with a word. God’s Word, beloved is what we need today. We need the Word of God. It heals, brings to life, creates galaxies, and creates worlds. God’s Word brings us into a relationship with Him, it disciples, it causes us to flee from sin and walk closer with Christ.
God’s Word saves us, heals us, and teaches us. The question we should ask is why does Jesus save us and heal us? He does so for His own namesake as an extension of His great mercy and grace shown to us underserving sinners.
Paul refers those whom God chooses for salvation as “vessels of mercy” (Rom. 9:23)? Mercy, in fact, is presented to us as the basis of our salvation. God saves us from our sin, even though we are unworthy. Peter says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope . . .” (1 Peter 1:3). Paul writes that we are saved, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy . . .” (Titus 3:5). As Paul writes, our salvation was brought about by “God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us . . .” (Eph. 2:4).
God is glorified for many things, we will focus on today in His mercy and grace.
Matthew 8:14–17 (ESV)
14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
1. Jesus’ Mercy and Grace are Personal
14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.
What a gift Jesus gave to Peter’s wife and of course her mother. Peter would be gone a lot as he followed Jesus. To bring this woman from death to life is a wonderful gift of mercy.
Just as an aside, did you know that Peter was married? Later on in the story of the New Testament, we discover that, as Peter went about preaching, he took along his “believing wife” (1 Corinthian 9:5). Obviously, you can’t have a “mother-in-law” without also having had a “wife”! I can’t help but think that it would have taken a remarkable woman of God to be the wife of Peter! And it must have also taken a remarkable woman to be his mother-in-law too!
The Greek word that is used to describe her situation (ballõ) meant that she was “cast” upon a sick-bed. Her illness forced her into bed-riddenness. And when Luke – who was a doctor – told this story, he pointed out that Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with “a high fever” (Luke 4:38). It may be that her situation was, in fact, very grave.
In Jewish tradition to touch a sick person would make one unclean. Again, like with the leper Jesus touches her and she is healed. We also see again that Jesus’ touch does not defile Him but heals the defiled. We notice that she doesn’t lay there because she is still weak from the fever. She is immediately healed and immediately gets up and begins to serve Jesus. Mercy truly makes disciples doesn’t it? No trace of the sickness is lingering. Not only is the sickness gone but everything that came with it are also gone. She is not weak but restored entirely.
I don’t know about you but it’s fun to imagine what she did to serve Jesus and I’m sure the others as well. Perhaps she was a wonderful cook and prepared an evening meal for them? Whatever it was it displayed the fact that she was completely healed and second that her first concern was caring for Jesus, her Master.
I love to read the various accounts of this event. Matthew said Jesus touched her hand, Mark tells us He took her hand and Luke writes that He rebuked the fever. So the event has Jesus taking her hand rebuking the fever and raising her up completely healed. She feels so good, she is ready to serve Him. We see a great picture of immediate healing and immediate discipleship.
It takes the touch of Jesus whether by word or deed to create disciples. She became a servant of Jesus because He showed her mercy. Are you serving Christ today? Have you experienced His mercy? Has Jesus touched you?
2. Jesus’ Mercy and Grace Are Available to All Who Come to Him
16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.
There is one piece that Matthew doesn’t really tell us that Mark is clear about.
Mark 1:29–34 (ESV)
29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
The reason the people waited until sundown (Mark) or evening (Matthew) was that it was the Sabbath. Mark tells us that these healings took place after they had left the synagogue in Capernaum.
Word had apparently gotten out about Jesus’ presence at Peter’s place. And word had, no doubt, already begun to spread about the miracles of healing He had performed. Perhaps word had even spread about His healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. Mark tells us that, by the end of the day, “the whole city was gathered together at the door” (Mark 1:33).
What is very sad here is that the tradition had kept those who needed help from approaching Jesus. The Sabbath was turned into a day of stress and legalism rather than a day of rest and worship. Jesus, again does not observe protocol when it comes to showing mercy to others. He goes to their aid even breaking the tradition that had been set up by the Jews.
Now, this is where we are given a more expansive view of the mercy of our Savior. First, we saw Jesus’ mercy to one person – a dear little ‘granny’ with a fever. But Matthew now tells us that “many” came to Jesus with a variety of very serious needs. And whatever the need was, He met it completely. Luke tells us that “He laid hands on every one of them and healed them” (Luke 4:40).
Notice that it didn’t matter what the issue was. If a person had a fever it was lifted, if a person was sick they were healed, if they had leprosy they were cleansed, if they were demon possessed the demon was removed. Beloved whatever the need was, the mercy and grace of Jesus was sufficient for that need.
The exact same thing is true for us. Whatever our need is, Jesus’ mercy and grace are sufficient to meet it. The point goes something like this: if Jesus’ mercy and power can cleanse a leper and make him clean then the same mercy and power can cleanse you from your past sins. Jesus’ compassion is personal. He touched Peter’s mother-in-law. His compassion in that moment was especially for her. Jesus is will and able to show us the same compassion and mercy today.
As believers we can claim with David…
Psalm 23:6 (ESV)
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Jesus is willing. He healed all who were brought to Him. His mercy is available for all who come to Him by faith.
3. Jesus’ Mercy and Grace Are Deep and Complete
17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
We have gained more understanding of this event as we looked to both Luke and Mark to help us fill in some things that Matthew leaves out. Now let’s look at something that only Matthew reports. He writes that these miraculous healings are not just Jesus showing compassion on the sick and helpless but they go much deeper and more complete that you might imagine. These miracles are foretold in Isaiah as a sign of the One who would also heal us spiritually so we can stand before God without fear.
I can remember a professor telling us one time that whenever the Gospel writer quotes a verse or even part of a verse from the OT he has in mind that entire section. This is very true here when Matthew quotes Isaiah 53:4. We might notice the wording is somewhat different. The issue comes from Matthew’s use of the original Hebrew and our’s being a translation. As we read the section we can discern that Jesus’ healing ministry points to something greater, namely healing holistically. He heals physical disease, which points to ultimate healing. One day because of Jesus healing us of our sin we will enter into paradise where there will be no more sickness and disease. In order to accomplish this our Lord had to bear our sins and share in even our sufferings.
Isaiah 53:1-6 (ESV)
53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He took on our sin and even the diseases that sin brought. He was crushed and suffered physically so we could be healed. Sin and suffering are connected. Jesus bears them both for us.
One Jewish traditional interpretation of Isaiah 53:4 is that the Messiah would become a leper to remove our sin. He would suffer God’s wrath so we could be forgiven.
Isaiah wrote about our Savior’s sacrifice on the cross – over seven-hundred and fifty years before He was crucified – as a ‘substitutionary atonement’ for our sins. The focus of Isaiah’s words about Jesus ‘taking our infirmities and bearing our sicknesses’ was clearly spiritual in nature – that is, that Jesus was crucified in our place because of our sins; in order that the guilt of our sin might fall upon Himself, and that He might pay the death penalty for it on our behalf. And this is how the apostle Peter understood Isaiah’s words when he quoted from this same passage. He said that Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24; citing Isaiah 53:5).
But when Matthew quotes this verse, he seems to see it as a prophecy that was fulfilled in the earthly healing ministry of Jesus. So; which is it? Is it a prophecy about Jesus’ healing ministry, or is it a promise of His saving ministry? I suggest to you that it is both! And it’s here that see just how marvelously broad and expansive Jesus’ mercy truly is!
For one thing, Matthew wasn’t being unfaithful to the things that Isaiah said. The original language of Isaiah’s words carried with them the idea of ‘healing’. What Isaiah said can be legitimately translated, “Surely He has born our sicknesses and carried our pains”; because the Hebrew word for “griefs” (hõlî) really does mean “sicknesses”, and the word for “sorrows” (kã’ab) really does mean “pains”. Isaiah spoke in the language of physical illness and physical suffering to describe the grievous consequences of sin that Jesus has delivered us from. When Matthew said that Jesus “took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses”, he was being true to the literal words of Isaiah.
When we read about the miraculous healing ministry of Jesus Matthew wants us to be amazed at that and then remember that it goes much further. It points to ultimate healing when we are glorified sin is gone and sickness is also gone. Sin is forever gone and sin’s corruption as well. Just like when Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law and everything that went with her fever is also removed…she went from dying to never feeling better in a second. This is a picture of how Jesus completely heals us sin is gone and so are sins consequences. Sickness is gone and everything that came with it.
Revelation 21:1–5 (ESV)
21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary
A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles
A Gospel of Matthew by France
Matthew by Craig Bloomberg
Matthew by Doriani
Matthew by Charles Price
Matthew by Leon Morris
Blue Letter Bible