Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
So here we are back in the bedroom where Jesus takes Peter’s Mother-in-law by the hand and lifts her up. The fever left her, and she got up and began to cook for everyone. I immediately paused reading right there, because I cannot imagine someone being as ill as she seemed to be just getting up and going back into the kitchen to cook and serve guests. Even though I am not sure what her illness involved it seems that she was ill enough to be in bed.
Just recently, I had a scare that I had the coronavirus. I had some of the symptoms I had heard about, so I immediately went to the doctor to be tested. After testing me and looking at an x-ray of my lungs the physician concurred that I did not have coronavirus, but I did have walking pneumonia. I took the antibiotics he prescribed and began to get better within a day, but it took at least three weeks, living with little energy and not have enough oxygen to do my daily tasks before I recovered completely.
This woman had been ill to the point of being bedridden, and the disciples were quick to bring it to Jesus’ attention. Then suddenly Jesus raised her up and she wasn’t sick, or even weak. Her very first response was to get back to all those things she had missed doing so easily before she was taken down by this fever. She went back to the kitchen to cook and serve because it was what she had always done. It was what she knew best, it was her forte. Only this time she did it in a grateful response to what she had so miraculously received from Jesus. I get fixed on this part of the story because it is so out of the ordinary in the human healing process, so miraculous because it restored her to good health completely in the moment that Jesus lifted her up.
In my experience, healing hardly ever comes like that. Even a minor cold can get you down for weeks. If a person has been laid low by a serious illness or traumatic injury healing is usually a slow process. Yet the point seems to be that Jesus can and will restore us so that we might live into our God-given identity and potential, and claim our calling as children of God to take part in the mission to love and serve Christ through serving others.
What this and many other healing stories about Jesus ministry tells me is that God wants to set us free of whatever prevents us from becoming who God has created us to be, so that we might live into our God-given identity and potential. God wants us to claim our calling as children of God, and join God in the mission to love and bless the world. Jesus wants to free us not only from things that seek to oppress us, but also for a life of purpose, meaning, and good works. What I mean by good works, is not things that we do to justify ourselves before God or others, but rather those things that we do as a response to God’s love in serving our neighbor. That service stems from a sense of joy, love, and freedom that Jesus gives us. It is a joy, a love, and freedom, that may come even if our physical bodies are not as new and as perfect as we would like them to be. I have a friend who is bound to her home in a wheelchair, but she makes phone calls and sends cards and emails daily to cheer the brokenhearted and the sick. Healing can come in many forms and as we are healed we can claim the joy that it brings by serving others.
- What calls to you, or who needs you this week?
- Could it be that each time we respond to the needs of others we are responding to God’s call?
- Can you imagine that each time you respond to the needs of others they too can respond to God’s call and live into the freedom that is ours in Christ?
- Is it possible that God is touching you today to bring healing into your life so you can become all that God calls you to be?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.