Who is this Jesus?
It may not be true that charity begins at home, but if serving God has no domestic context, there is a problem (1 Timothy 5:8). The scene for this true narrative is Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28). Jesus and His disciples had just left the synagogue where Jesus had taught the people and cast a demon out of a man. Although the crowd was full of amazed discussion, Jesus did not stay. He went to the home of Simon (later called Peter – Matthew 16:17-18) and Andrew. The other disciples were probably there as well but Mark notes that Jesus took two other brothers, James and John, with Him. Later, Peter, James and John were the three witnesses to significant events in Jesus' ministry (Mark 5:37; 9:2; 14:33).
Hospitality was part of the social currency, as it still is in many parts of the world. Jesus' arrival at a friend's family home would usually have precipitated a meal with conversation and overnight accommodation for a day or two (Luke 24:28-29). But Simon's wife's mother was in the house and she was very unwell. An infection marked by a high temperature had disabled her, so she was in bed. The focus of the family was not on their guests but on the sick woman. In an age where fever often announced impending death, everybody was concerned. But immediately Jesus entered the home they shared their anxiety with Him.
Jesus simply took the woman's hand and helped her out of bed. As she got up, the illness immediate went away and she felt so well that she assumed the role of hostess – preparing a meal and serving it to The Master and His disciples. This low-key, domestic healing soon became the talk of the town. People rightly associated Jesus' power to expel demons with His power to heal and to teach God's Word authoritatively – the three elements of His ministry (Luke 9:1-2). They were signs that God's power was at work. But that left the question, if God's power was at work through Jesus: who was He? What is His identity? The obvious answer, previously announced by a demon, is that Jesus is the Holy One of God (Mark 1:24). Later, Peter was to state that Jesus is the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16).
Perhaps we see God's will as being reserved for the big things of life - for the rest we just use our common sense. We might think that it was merely natural for the disciples to tell Jesus about illness in the family; but sharing that information with the Lord triggered a whole episode to teach the disciples that there is power in the Name of Jesus. This was stark evidence to them that what Jesus could do for others in church, He would do for them at home. With all that lay ahead they needed the confirmation of His powerful involvement in their lives. We live, trusting God's Word. But along the way, He gives us personal evidence of His power and authority. This is to be cherished because it reminds us of Jesus' divine power and increases our confidence to go on trusting Him and working with Him.
© Dr Paul Adams