A Willing Love

Jesus Heals Many

14 And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:14-17)

Jesus continues in this passage to do the miraculous of healing the sick and casting out of demons. He stirred the community with His deeds and not only that but he changed the lives of individuals who were in great need, those who were suffering. These were real people with real afflictions whom Jesus healed and restored.

Two weeks ago we saw Jesus heal a man with leprosy, a man declared unclean, a man who was marginalized, a lonely outcast and one whom everyone would avoid at all cost. Jesus refused to ignore him, this poor man and he healed him. This not only restored his health but restored his life in many ways. Jesus no doubt offended some by helping this outcast, the legalist would have most likely been offended that Jesus touched a leper.

We went from the healing of the leper this outcast to the healing of a Roman soldiers servant. Roman soldiers were generally despised by Jews. They were an occupying force, they generally oppressed the Jews. This particular soldier did have some Jews who spoke well of Him and this soldier did do some good things for the Jews but in general, the everyday Jew hated the Romans, and that would have included this Roman soldier. Jesus did not hesitate to heal this man’s servant. And like the leper it is most likely the case that many Jews would have been offended that Jesus helped this soldier's servant.

Jesus was not playing favorites. He would see a need, those who were suffering and He was healing them. We see this pattern of behavior all throughout the gospel accounts. For instance, we read of Jesus eating with despised sinners in Matthew chapter 9. Jesus had just called Matthew to be follower after that the Scripture says in verse 10

10 “And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ 12 But when he heard it he said, “Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick.” (Matthew 9:10-12)

Jesus hung out with tax collectors who were like traitors to the Jews, they too were a despised group. And the Pharisees could not stand it. For if Jesus were truly a religious man then certainly he would be hanging out with them, the Pharisees! This is how they would reason. This really rubbed them. But like Jesus who touched the leper and Jesus who healed the Roman soldiers servant, Jesus also, hung out with despised tax collectors and sinners.

But there is more. Jesus also taught, through James about the sin of partiality. Jesus hated partiality. Jesus despised it when the poor were mistreated at the expense of the rich. As He reached out to the least in His ministry he also, through the inspired writings of others, directed us to not favor those who are outwardly perhaps more pleasant to our eyes. We see this in James chapter 2.

2 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? (James 2:1-5)

Jesus was serious about how he and we treat others who are less fortunate, poor, despised by the world and in need. Jesus would not allow the world's standards and our fleshly standards rule for the Christian.

Jesus would not reject the leper, would not reject the Roman soldiers request, would not reject despised tax collectors and would not reject the poor while appeasing the rich.

This all has a point, stay with me.

What about another group of people who were generally despised by His own people the Jews. How about the Samaritans? The Jews generally hated the Samaritans because they were a mix of Jews and Gentiles they were seen as unclean and despised.

And yet when Jesus talks about who to love and to what extent to love he tells a story of a Samaritan who lived as an example of love, and example to the Jews on how they should love. I’m not going to recount the whole story but the Samaritan chose to love a man when others rejected him. The point of the story is that we are to show love to all, not just to a few of our choosing. Like Jesus we are to love even the despised.

This brings us back to our passage this morning. In our passage, Jesus enters into Peter’s house, there he finds Peter’s mother-in-law sick with a fever. Jesus reaches over, touches her hand and her fever is gone.

Not much detail, not great explanations or teaching from Jesus regarding this healing. But one thing we need to know because of the societal norms of Jesus day, women were treated as second class citizens. In many ways treated as unimportant people. And even the fact that Jesus touches her hand was radical in His day. God has never made women second class to men, but men have throughout history tried to make women second class, inferior to men. This was a societal norm like many others that Jesus and subsequent Christian teaching has countered.

Again, it is the same consistent message from Jesus, people are people and we are to love people and serve people and not make sweeping distinctions by grouping people into certain categories and declaring you are worthy of my help and attention and you are not.

Jesus ministered to women and loved them and cared for them despite the overwhelming prejudices against them in his day.

Now, I want to show you God’s view of women from one passage this morning and I love this passage. It is a passage that will put a man in his rightful place, so to speak, if he looks down on women and that can encourage women who may think they are inferior. You may think this to be an unlikely passage to make this point because it is also often misunderstood. The verse I am talking about is 1 Peter 3:7.

Let me read it and then I’ll explain what I mean.

I Peter 3:7

This happens to be a passage talking about husbands and wives.

7 “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)

There is one phrase here that sparks a lot of controversy that is Peter speaking of the woman as the weaker vessel, I’ll address that but let’s not let get us off track before I explain it.

First Peter lifts the wife to a high place of honor. The command is to show honor to the woman. This is a huge statement for the first century!

To honor her is to respect her to prefer her to treat her very, very well, it is to highly esteem her. Think about what it means to put someone in a place of honor. This is how the Lord says women in marriage are to be treated how they are to be viewed by their husbands. This is not a 1st century culturally popular sentiment. Not at all!

Peter goes on to say by inspiration of the Spirit of Christ

showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel,

Saying weaker vessel was not a slam or derogatory against women. It was the opposite. A weaker vessel was seen also as a precious vase. Something of value but that could be broken if mistreated. The weaker vessel in the home would be a prized possession, a precious possession and one that would require care and attention. It would not be placed somewhere where it could be easily broken. It would be placed in a safe place and admired. And so men so it is with your wife, and so is God’s high view of women. They are not second class, they are not to be mistreated but are to be cared for as God’s creation.

But the most convincing part of this passage is in the next phrase.

, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life,

What is the ultimate reason for why a Christian man should treat His wife with love and tender care? Because she is an heir with you of the grace of life. Men, your wife is first of all a child of God, she belongs to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, she belongs first to Him not you. She is not inferior but a joint heir with you and equal with you. And if she is a joint heir and a child of God then, beware of how you treat her! You are merely a steward for a time of His precious creation. You are not her owner, God is.

And so Peter, like Jesus just blows away the modern day 1st century view of women. It is no wonder that Jesus did not hesitate to heal this woman Peter's mother-in-law, of course he would, he cared for people, the leperous outcast, the despised soldier and even a woman with whom society placed little value.

And what happened when she was healed?

and she rose and began to serve him.

The word serve here most likely indicates that she became an active follower of Jesus. She served Him in the sense that Christians serve Him. Fully healed, not need for a long recovery Jesus took care of that too!

This is Jesus.

Now there is one more group of people here that Jesus healed.

16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17)

Demon possessed people were not those that others, non-demon possessed people would just hang out with. We don’t see much of this the way people then did. Can you imagine walking down the street or being in someone’s home and there is a demon possessed person next to you, acting not normal but like, well, a demon possessed person?

I spent some time with a person years ago that I thought maybe was demon possessed. I would talk with him about Jesus and he would just sit and stare at me and growl, like an animal. He would sometimes lean forward toward me like maybe he was going to grab me. It wasn’t frightening for me, I just kept taking and giving him truth from God’s word. But I did wonder what was up with him. Eventually I just told him sternly to stop it, to stop growling and to listen to me and he did! So, I’m not sure what was going on, really.

But in Jesus case, it was the real thing. And Jesus was, of course not intimidated, for fearful He just cast those spirits out! And at Jesus command, they were gone. Can you imagine the relief that these outcasts realized on that day! One moment possessed by a demon and the next free. And then Peter throws this in…

and healed all who were sick.

It’s almost like an afterthought and yet can you imagine the impact. A tremendous impact especially for those who were sick but also for those who witnessed such things!

Peter then references a passage from the prophet Isaiah,

“He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

He was doing that on this day and He did this on many other days as well.

Jesus healed the leper, healed the Roman soldiers servant, healed Peter’s mother-in-law, cast out demons and then healed everyone else that came to him on this night!

There are two things I’d like for us to take away with us today.

First, never underestimate or doubt the power of Jesus. Look at what He did on this day in the Bible. He is the image of the invisible God, He is the creator of all that there is, He is the sustainer of all that we see and even what we don’t see. He can heal, He does heal, He can save and He does save. He has not changed, He is still involved today with His creation, don’t doubt that. What do you need? Have you gone to Him with your request?

Philippians 4:6 speaks to this:

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Do you know what that is? It is an invitation for you. God is saying, come to me with your requests, your concerns, with what is on your mind. He asks us, really command us to enter into His presence through prayer.

Later in Philippians 4:19 we read,

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

That is a promise…”come to me” in Philippians 4:6-7, “and I will supply your needs” in Philippians 4:19!

The power of Christ is real.

The second thing I want us to take away is that we have no right to shun people because of some group we perceive they belong to. People are people and everyone in some group is not like everyone in that group. We need to categorize people less and love them more.

Jesus did not shun people because of a group they belonged to. To put it plainly, there is no place in Christianity for bigotry, or racism or some kind of elite superiority complex or sexism or putting down of the uneducated or the educated, the poor or the rich. Jesus didn’t and nor should we.

All people are our neighbors all are in need of Christ and we are called to go into all the world and to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. God help us to put aside any prejudices we have for the sake of our Lord’s name.

The only categories of people in the end will be, the saved and the lost. Our place right now is to evangelize and even love the lost in the name of Jesus and pray that they will be saved.

14 And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:14-17)