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3) Matthew 8 - Jesus heals Peter's wife's mother
Matthew describes Jesus' love for another group of Israel's outcasts. But this time he concentrates the reader's
attention on God's interest in unknown, humble folk whom the rich, the elite, the religious aristocrats would rather
have snubbed as "those provincial nobodies," sometimes sneeringly referred to as "this crowd, who do not know the
law" (John 7:49 and Luke 7:29).
Jesus had returned to Capernaum from the seashore where He had just called the four fishermen Peter, Andrew,
James and John, to become His close disciples, since Mark's version is tighter than Luke's, who places Jesus' return
from Nazareth in that general time-context. With His newly committed disciples, Jesus goes to the regular
synagogue meeting on a Sabbath, where His teaching had special impact to His forcefulness in the Sermon on the
Mount (see Matthew 7:28-29 with Mark 1:22 and Luke 4:32).
Jesus was interrupted by demonic ravings. Jesus rebuked the demon, cast him out and freed the man. The
onlookers were amazed that Jesus' authority lay not just in words but also in deeds. Herein lies a good lesson - we
should not just have the words but the deeds as well.
Matthew 8:14 - Jesus came to Peter's house. This simple house probably was located in Bethsaida (John 1:44),
also the home of Andrew (Mark 1:29). If these men are still living in Bethsaida, this village must be a suburb of
He saw Peter's wife's mother because the other members of the family told Him of her (Mark 1:30). They requested
His help on her behalf (Luke 4:38). His mother-in-law's very existence, plus a later reference in history (1st
Corinthians 9:5), demonstrates several interesting facts:
1) That Peter, the first so-called Roman pope, was married.
2) That Peter did not necessarily leave his wife to enter Christ's service. She might have even accompanied
Peter on some trips with the Lord, as did other women who followed Jesus ministering to His needs and
those of the group.
3) That having a wife was no apparent objection to Peter's apostleship.
4) That Peter's wife accompanied Peter in later journeys, as did the other apostles' wives work alongside
Contrary to some opinions, a woman did not really count for much, in almost every society, except in the Jewish
world of that day. In Judaism the woman's position was high, almost that of the man, although somewhat inferior.
Lying sick of a fever - Luke (Luke 4:38) notices that she had a high fever. This may not be merely a thermostatic
reading but a specific medical term, possibly malaria due to the closeness of her home to the mosquito infested
marshes. The Talmud gives this disease precisely the same name, Burning fever, and prescribes for it a magical
remedy, of which the principal part is to tie a knife wholly of iron by a braid of hair to a thorn bush, and to repeat on
successive days - Exodus 3:2-3, then Exodus 3:4, finally Exodus 3:5. After which, the bush is to be cut down, while
a certain magical formula is pronounced.
Luke's expression "Jesus rebuked the fever" must not be regarded as proof that Jesus shared popular superstitions
which held diseases as malevolent personalities in the sufferers, somewhat like demons:
1) Jesus is merely addressing the impersonal fever in the same way He shouted at winds and waves (Matthew
2) The Gospel writers themselves saw and recorded a clear distinction between sickness or disease and
In this two-verse story Matthew does not hold up Peter's mother-in-law for admiration, but Peter's Lord! In Peter's
humble abode where there was no admiring audience to keep Jesus at His best, Jesus could hear human need and
expend His love, care, and power in the service of humble, unknown, unheard-of folk. It is this kind of close-up
study of Jesus that convinced His disciples they had found the real Messiah: He was the same at home as before
the cheering, admiring crowds.
Matthew 8:17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken though Isaiah the prophet.
Matthew is saying, if you think that these events are natural events at a particular point of time and space, you must
remember the prophecy which prepared our minds to look for these kind of miracles. While, in the days of Isaiah,
the prophecy might have had less force with those who heard these words, for those to whom the fulfillment came,
doubles the force of each miracle.