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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Jesus and Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-17)

So far in this section of his Gospel, Matthew has mentioned a leper and a Gentile proselyte. Now he mentions a woman who is suffering from an illness.

I assume this verse causes some problems for Roman Catholic writers since they don’t think popes should be married and they imagine that Peter was the first Pope. But since Peter was never a pope, the problem is one based on adding requirements to the Bible that the Bible does not require. Peter would have been appalled if someone had told him that such claims would later be made about him. Other biblical references tell us that his wife later travelled with him when he was spreading the gospel of Jesus.

As we know, the four Gospel writers, when they are describing the same event, sometimes mention details not found in the other accounts. Mark tells us that those in the house told Jesus about the mother-in-law’s fever. Luke says that Jesus healed her by rebuking the fever. Matthew, under the leading of the Spirit, stresses the eyes and the touch of Jesus.

Referring to the eyes draw attention to the mind of a person, to what he is thinking when he sees something. I wonder what Jesus thought as he saw his friend’s mother lying ill. He would be sad, he would see the effects of sin (all diseases exist because of our original sin), and he would see one of his people whom he eternally loved. Then he touched her, which informs us of his willingness to identify with needy people, as well as helping her sense his sympathy as well as his power.

Matthew mentions the response of the woman, which was that she began to serve Jesus. I assume she did some work in the home that day. Matthew highlights that she served Jesus whereas other accounts say that she served Jesus and his disciples. Why did Matthew write in such a way? Probably the answer is that the unnamed mother-in-law did what everyone whom Jesus helps should do. So she becomes a model disciple and we should thank God that there are countless such disciples scattered around the world who serve Jesus out of gratitude. And she is a contrast to the two would-be disciples mentioned in the following verses.

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