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From Chris's Heart

July 2010
A Healing in Capernaum
by Nick Harris

The events recorded in Mark 1:29-31 occurred immediately after Jesus had exorcised a demon from the personality of a man that he had just encountered in the synagogue in the town of Capernaum. As the service had ended, Jesus left the synagogue, along with several of his disciples, and walked over to the family home of Simon Peter.

Archaeologists have demonstrated that the home of Peter was not a single dwelling house. In fact, it was a grouping of buildings that archeologists call an insula today. By definition, an insula is a group of residences inside a compound wall. The residences are arranged around one or more courtyards.

Now, anyone who has ever been to Capernaum knows that the insula where Peter lived was located less than 50 feet from the entrance to the synagogue of that town. And, hereís the important thing. It appears that at least some portion of this insula may have served as the headquarters for the ministry of Jesus. In other words, Jesus operated his public ministry out of this compound.

On the day in question, Jesus and the disciples had planned to enjoy a Sabbath meal at the largest residence inside this insula. But as Jesus and Peter passed through the gate into the central courtyard, they could see that something was amiss. There was pandemonium. A member of Simon Peter's family, perhaps his wife, rushed over to Jesus and Peter and explained the situation.

The two men were told that the mother-in-law of Peter had suddenly fallen gravely ill. She had a raging fever which appears to have left her comatose. In fact, her situation was so critical that death appeared imminent. So, Jesus was asked if He would come and help her.

There are several critical factors about what would happen that day that need to be examined. The first fact is this: this desperately ill woman did not approach Jesus herself. She was simply too ill to do this. Therefore, someone else, probably her daughter, the wife of Simon Peter, had to approach Jesus in her behalf.

Now, I point to this fact for one reason. It is to demonstrate to you that this woman was unable to contribute anything to her own healing. Thatís an important consideration. It is important because there was no overt display of faith on her part. There couldnít be, because she was too sick to be able to exercise faith. But the good news was this: the fact that she could not even exercise an iota of faith did not seem to bother Jesus; not in the least. He chose to heal this woman anyhow.

Now, before anyone goes into hysterics, I am not suggesting to you that personal faith is not an important ingredient in receiving a healing or in receiving any other gift from God; it is crucial. Faith is all important! As we all know, there are many occasions in the Gospel accounts where Jesus saw the personal faith of a man or woman and He healed them because of their display of faith. In several cases, He even said as much! Several times Jesus said, ďYour faith has made you whole.Ē

So, faith is crucial; and why is this? Let me tell you why. Faith is crucial because it is the presence of faith that moves the heart of God to action. Godís heart is moved by our faith. But I must tell you that faith was not always present when Jesus did some of the mighty things He did. You see, there were many occasions when Jesus chose to heal people for reasons other than their great displays of faith. In fact, that was true in the case of Simon Peter's mother-in-law.

As I understand the text, he chose to heal this woman for two reasons neither of which involved personal faith! First, He chose to heal this woman because someone in the family with faith in Jesus interceded with Him on her behalf. Today, we call what such intercession intercessory prayer. And intercessory prayer is an especially important activity when people face desperate circumstances in their lives where their own faith is inactive.

It was certainly important to Peter's mother-in-law, and it is still important to people all around us today. Intercessory prayer is an essential ministry of any body of believers, and especially a body of believers where people care about one another. That's one reason why Jesus chose to heal the mother-in-law of Simon Peter; people cared enough to intercede with Him for her.

But I can see another even more important reason. I believe that Jesus chose to heal this woman simply because she was not just anybody's mother-in-law. I believe that this woman was special to Jesus! She was the mother-in-law of one of His closest friends. In fact, since Jesus appears to have lived in Simon Peterís house, Jesus may have been quite close to the entire family, including her. And with Jesus relationships meant everything. And, since this woman was like family to Him, I believe that this relationship moved Jesus to act.

The fact that Jesus was moved to action by the family connection, by a relationship, tells me that His Father is moved by the same thing, by a relationship. In other words, if Jesus was touched by the sickness and pain of those he considered to be His family, so is His Father. You do know, of course, that God has a family. The Bible refers to His family as being, "the sons and daughters of God." Unfortunately, not everybody in this world chooses to be a part of that family.

My friends, if you do not remember anything else, I want you to remember this: just because we take up space and breathe air on this planet does not mean that we are automatically included in the family of God. Donít fall into that way of thinking. We must be birthed of the Holy Spirit, to be a part of Godís family. We must be born of the Spirit of God to belong to the family of God.

So, that day in Capernaum, Jesus was immediately taken to the sick woman's room, and as He entered, He surveyed her condition. She did, indeed, have a "high fever." But what Jesus did next is recorded differently in each of the gospels. Matthew's Gospel tells us that Jesus "touched her hand." Mark's Gospel tells us that Jesus "took her by the hand and lifted her up." And Luke's Gospel tells us that he "rebuked the fever."

Of course, we know that Jesus did all three of these things, not just one of them. First, he touched her hand; next, then He rebuked the fever; and finally he took her hand and lifted her up. So, each of these three gospels reports a different action but every Gospel reports the same outcome.

The fever left her! When? When He rebuked it, that's when! These are actions performed when we love people. We touch them. We rebuke those things that are troubling them. Then we help them get back on their feet.

I am always thrilled when I see a relationship in action, especially on the part of Jesus, because I am in a relationship with Him. And since He is no respecter of persons, I know he will care for me.

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