Matthew 8:14-17 — What Are You Waiting On? Lessons from Peter’s Mother-in-Law: Now Is The Time

Posted: November 5, 2015 in 40-Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 8:14-17
Jesus Heals Many
Our last study had to do with the ultimate faith in Jesus as the highest authority over our lives. Through that belief, we begin to access the healing power of Jesus. In today’s passage, often captioned as “Jesus Heals Many,” we begin to look at what happens after healing occurs. We look at how healing draws us closer to Christ and transforms our lives. We look at how that transformation leads to Kingdom service. Finally, we look at how this Kingdom service often leads to sacrifice. In the end, we see that through the healing power we receive through grace that we are called to serve Him!

The passage reads as follows:

14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. 16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
I am going to be kind of quirky today and not review the verses in their natural order here, so bear with me. I think the first thing that strikes me is Matthew 8:16. The concept that comes out to me here is that healing both meets people’s needs directly and draws them to the One who can transform their lives. To me, the healing power of Jesus for both physical and spiritual sickness get those things out of our lives that prevent us from becoming what we should be for God.

Next, I want to look at Matthew 8:14. The thing that jumps out to me in this verse is that this verse demonstrates that Peter was married, and had a family. It was traditional in those days when a man’s father passed away for the oldest son to take his mother into his home. However, in this case, we see that it is his mother in law. Either, his wife was an only child or the oldest of her brothers could not or would not take her in. So, fall all of the gruffness and knee jerk reactions we have seen of Peter in the Scripture, we see his heart of hearts through taking his mother in law into his home. Of course, this points out directly that Peter was married. It shows to me the great personal sacrifice that Peter was making by being one of the direct disciples of Jesus. We know not much about Peter’s family and his work life prior to meeting Jesus. We do know that he was a fisherman. In first century Palestine, this would have been and still is a meager existence but an existence nonetheless. He would have been able to meagerly provide for his family. They would not have been rich. They would have taxed heavily to support the Roman Empire as well as the local Judean puppet government. We know that Peter was a passionate, leap first think second kind of person from what we see in the Scriptures. Thus, he would have passionately hated the government officials as he tried to eak out an existence for him and his family.

Ok. That’s a lot of background for a single verse. But the point I am trying to get at is that Peter had a family and most likely the fruits of his labors were the sole support of his family’s existence. In this verse, we see that it would have a huge leap of faith for Peter to have laid all his responsibilities to his family down and follow Jesus on a daily basis for around 3 years. He would have left his family’s livelihood behind. He would have left his family behind. He paid a high price to follow Jesus not only in the ultimate end to his life but on a daily basis. He left his wife behind. He left his life behind. Some 2000 plus years into the future, we have the advantage of knowing the outcome of this thing! Peter did not have that knowledge. It truly was a leap of faith. Would we have that same faith? Would we step foot out of the boat of security and walk on the waves toward Jesus…toward what he wants us, has called us to do.

Right now, I am in the midst of that transformation. I have one foot inside that boat and the other is on the surface of the water. I am getting out of the boat. I am straddling the side of the boat. I work now part-time at the church. I am partially following the calling on my life by the Lord. But when it comes time to put both feet outside the boat of my secure secular career, am I going to firmly plant both feet on the surface of the water? I mentally and emotionally say yes now, but will I when it becomes a career choice. Leaving a 30 plus year career in accounting and auditing behind will not be easy. Will I have the faith do that? As I continue to work part-time at my church, I think God is letting me see that it is something that I so desire. Working part-time there makes me wish for the full-time time to come. There is so much that God has put on my heart to do at my church but right now with the limited time that I am there I cannot do it with the speed that I wish. I want to serve Him to my fullest with all my attention. It is a preview. I patiently wait. One foot inside the boat, one foot already on the surface of the water. I must trust that the water will hold me up when I put the second foot out there and step away from the boat. I must trust that the Lord will buoy my wife and me. We must trust that the Lord will provide. It is and will be an act of faith.

It is evident from the fact that Peter in his leap of faith to follow Jesus completely trusted that God would take care of his family. He had a family to come to. His family was not scattered to the winds because of lack of financial stability. He had a home to come home to. It is apparent that his wife, any kids he may have had, and his mother in law had shelter and were not in need. They had beds. His mother in law was laying in one when Peter and Jesus came to Peter’s house. The Scripture directly says that they came to “Peter’s house”. It did not say the house where Peter’s family was staying. It said Peter’s house! Peter’s family was being blessed certainly financially in some way by his service to Jesus. Why can’t I trust Jesus to do the same for me? Why can’t we all who are called but do not follow?

Next let’s look at Matthew 8:15 we see that Jesus healed Peter’s mother in law. Immediately, she got up and began to serve Him. She was healed and then began to serve. Earlier we spoke of the fact that Jesus’ healing takes those things away that are in the way of us serving Him. Physical frailties certainly can get in the way of us serving God the way we could or should. Spiritual frailties come in many forms. Jesus can remove those too. Peter’s mother in law allowed Jesus to heal her. She wanted him to heal her. Jesus did not heal those who were not willing to be healed. With that willingness, Jesus healed her. And guess what she did? She immediately got up and began to serve Jesus. Is that not true for those of us who allow Jesus to heal us? Aren’t those that are truly healed just so completely willing to go out and serve Jesus and do it with gusto. You see it all the time. Usually, the ones that are the most on fire and the most willing to step out there, are the ones that have allowed Jesus to remove their infirmities, their sins, their fears, their excuses, their shortcomings. When we allow Jesus to get and forgive all our crap and truly allow him to heal us…the possibilities are endless. We can actually trust Jesus that he will take care of our needs when we step out! Maybe, I have not really let Jesus fully heal me. Maybe, I have not really learned to trust him and just step out? If I was allowing Jesus to reach in and heal me, maybe I would be truly so excited and not just step out but rather jump out there and serve Jesus…like Peter’s mother in law IMMEDIATELY GOT UP and served him!

In the final verse at 8:17 Thus Matthew cites Isaiah 53:4 to demonstrate that Jesus’ mission of healing fulfills the character of the mission of the servant, who at the ultimate cost of his own life would reveal God’s concern for a broken humanity. Jesus put it all out there. He came and healed others. He stepped out there. He is God but He set aside His glory to come to earth to lay it all on the line. He was willing to do whatever was necessary to offer man an avenue to reconcile us to Him. He jumped in with both feet. He gave up gloriousness that is heaven, set aside his deserved glory, accepted human form, and laid it all on the line. The mission was more important than his comfort. The pain was worth the goal. Is it not true that what God really wants of us is to be more like Jesus? How much are we willing to sacrifice for the expansion of the Christ’s kingdom? Are you and I willing to sacrifice for the kingdom? In our giving? In using our resources and talents? Are you and I willing to make that mission the most important thing even to the point of losing everything we have including our lives? Is the gospel message that important to you? And to me?

Let’s pray that we both have the courage to get off the couch…get out of the boat…to serve…to plow the field that needs plowing….Let’s pray that we hear the call and act and not just let it warm our heart…Let us pray that we can do more that get that good feeling and that uplift on Sunday morning…Let us pray that we see our opportunities to serve whether it be in front of the crowd…or more importantly in the crowd! Let’s hear the call and live the call! Let us jump up and serve immediately as Peter’s mom did! Let’s step up to the plate when the time comes. Let us put both feet on the surface of the water and walk toward Jesus and what He is calling us to do. Let us step out of the comforts of the boat. Let us trust that Jesus will keep us on the surface. Let us trust in Him and keep our eyes on Him and go for it! Amen.

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