Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them.
When I read about Peter’s mother-in-law in this short passage I am reminded of Les Dawson. I am of an age I remember Les Dawson, a much loved Lancashire Comedian whose material was good fun without being blue or vulgar. He was famous for two things, his off tune piano playing routine and his endless stream of mother-in-law jokes. Some classics such as: “She has so many wrinkles that when she smiles she looks like a Venetian blind,” “My mother-in-law fell down a wishing well. I was amazed…I never knew they worked!” and “My mother-in-law went on holiday last week, the parrot thought he’d gone deaf.” The truth was that Les was a devoted family man who loved his mother-in-law, and she adored him too.
The above scripture opens up a whole new angle on knowledge about St. Peter; that he was a married man and likely had children. His wife is reputed to be the daughter of Aristobulus a disciple and the first bishop of Britannia (AD37). Indeed we find further in 1 Corinthians 9:5 that Peter’s wife accompanied him on his ministry journeys. In my mind it is logical to assume that Peter’s later writings on Godly women were based on his beloved wife.
In the scripture before us today we do not know whether Peter’s mother-in-law was alone, if her husband was still there or if her beloved daughter was present. But clearly she was seriously ill with a fever, to the point of being in her bed. Then her son-in-law turns up unexpectedly with three friends, but she is so ill to be passed caring. But there was something about one of Peter’s friends as Peter spoke to Him about her. The man gently took her hand in His and looked her in the eye, smiled and then uttered sharp words of prayer against the fever that tormented her. In an instant she felt as if a millstone had been lifted from her body, her mind was clear for the first time in days and she felt alive. Still holding His hand she stood up, gasped and giggled in joy. It was then she knew this visitor was more than a man, she must serve Him. But first she began whizzing about preparing a meal for her honoured guest and the others. Take note that her healing was instantaneous and total; people with high fever take days to recover normally, but her healing was miraculous.
Dear reader, this two verse story is easily missed if we rush through scripture.Yet it has much to tell us, if we take time to meditate on it. Here we encounter the family of Peter, and his beloved mother-in-law. This woman along with her husband and daughter undoubtedly went on to follow their Messiah, the one who held her hand and raised her from what may have been her death bed. Such is the love of the Messiah for all of us, regardless of our rank in society.