Matthew 8:14-27 . Healing Peter's Mother-in-Law
What Are We Putting Up With?
Some people go to the beach with a tiny rolled up towel, sunglasses, suncream, a bottle of water. They are called “French”. Others go with the kitchen sink: - sandwiches, flasks, picnic baskets, chairs, towels, sunshades, windbreak, football, cricket, badminton, surfboards, nets, buckets, spades, blow up dinghy (no pump!), camera, phone, charger, anorak.... and they go to the furthest part of the beach. That's us! What are we carrying? What are we putting up with?
How are you? “Not too bad, considering”. “Can't complain”. “Mustn't grumble”. “Plenty worse off”. “Fair to middling”. What did you expect?
What do you expect?
God Comes Close.
Did you ever play: “Mother's Headache”? Its is a game where everyone has to change their behaviour to accommodate Mum's malady. Creep up on tip toe so as not to arouse Mother, who is afflicted by a rage inducing malady. Don't make a noise or she'll turn round and catch you moving. Then its back to the start for you! Ever done that in real life? Sometimes it is unavoidable. Sympathy and self preservation.
Sometimes we live our lives as if God was “mother” - with a headache: Judgemental, fractious, suffering through our disobedience, angry and meting out justice. We tiptoe around righteously and try not to incur his wrath. We try to remain unnoticed. God is not like that.
Peter discovered that this Rabbi – who defied convention by not only using humble fishermen, but called them to become that most respected of the learned: disciples, reached out to the poor and lowly, healed them and forgave them. He discovered that Jesus was the Son of God. God come close.
God Reaches Out To Touch
In Kibera, a major Nairobi slum I visited, it was considered an honour to take the visiting pastor into your home. Even if you had nothing but a mattress and a curtain in it. Peter was taking the Rabbi home! It was a big deal. His position could be vindicated before the family perhaps? They would have been determined to put on a good show – especially with all the neighbours looking in. Mother in Law's illness was a real “Headache” for them. Shame. Disgrace. Rumour. Gossip. But Jesus comes, not as a judgemental dignitary for whom we have to put on our best show. He comes as one who reaches out to touch our needs. And he showed the possibility that people could be healed at His touch.
Did you know that it is true that He “took our illnesses. He carried all our diseases”. Isaiah 53:4 It was true for the extraordinary: demon possessed and those who were searching for healing. He took them to the cross. He carried them through death. He overcame them in resurrection. He still does this for you and me. It's true then. It's true now.
Are you “putting up with” something that Jesus can heal?
God Restores Us To Real Living.
But it is also true for the world's “mothers headache”.
We sometimes have expectations that are too high – but more often our expectations are way too low. We put up with things, limitations, dis-eases that actually need challenging and changing. Not only illness, but injustice, bullying, inefficiency, prejudice, hopelessness, joylessness, sin. Not only because we're lazy (and we are!) but because we forget or don't believe that these things are ARLEADY dealt with. “He took up ALL our infirmities and carried all our diseases”.
When Jesus wanted tea. He didn't tiptoe around trying not to disturb his hostess (that would have shamed her). He touched her. Healed her, but also restored her to life. He enabled her to fulfil her calling as hostess. He took away her shame. He made her whole. She knew that she was valued and needed.
He drank her tea – and probably had cake too
When Jesus comes close to us, touches us, heals us – we are free to overcome the dis-ease of our world too.