“Healing and Ministry”
Matthew 8:14-15, “And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.”
This morning, our world often gets the “cart before the horse” in their reasoning. There are many principles and concepts that must come on the heels of other things. One of the major points among the theological world is the truism that life must precede action. So many times, the ideas of salvation in the religious world are predicated upon action that Scripture tells us natural man is incapable of performing since he is dead. (Ephesians 2:1, I Corinthians 2:14) Without spiritual life, one cannot perform spiritual action. If more people properly reasoned the life before action principle, there would not be so many skewed perspectives about the salvation of man to heaven’s pure world. On the other hand, much of our service here must be built upon something as well. Proper spiritual engagement requires something go before it, and without those prerequisites, it will be crippled service.
In our study verses, we see what might be known in literature as a “throwaway” story. It takes up little ink, and seems like a minor detail in the broader picture of the life of Christ. However, nothing that is written about Christ was haphazard or without reason. This account shows the compassion of Christ, but it also points us to one of the best mindsets that the disciple of Christ can employ. This story deals with a literal, natural sickness and literal, natural ministering. However, the story can be employed to a spiritual plane as well.
When Peter’s mother-in-law was sick, she was really incapable of doing much. Any of us when dealing with a fever leaving us bedridden know that the body is just too weak to do much. Think about the church today. Scripture repeatedly calls it a body (I Corinthians 12 for example), and when the body is sick, it is hard for her to minister as she should. When a church gets bedridden from sickness, sometimes the ultimate sadness is that there is a denial of being sick. People trying to convince others they are not sick will say, “I’m really ok. No really. I’m ok.” Denial of natural sickness can end up being more severe as we press through things and do more damage to the body. Denial of spiritual sickness can bring prolonged illness that damages the body’s functions and usefulness.
When Christ appears though, what deliverance is found! This non-throwaway story shows Christ simply coming in an touching her. When a church is in trouble and laid up with a sickness, the Master’s touch can heal and drive away the problems that are troubling the body. Too many times, we live with a short-sighted mindset of God’s power and healing ability. In my own spirit, I know that I have sold Him short many times. While He may not be willing to do a thing, none of our problems are outside of His ability to heal. In today’s troubled culture, I have heard a lot of hopeless talking by those in the community. While my opinion of God’s will to bless and heal the country due to our prolonged refusal and rebellion against Him is a different matter for a different day, let us never think that one touch of the Master’s hand is insufficient for any problem that we see.
Let us look now to the scene after the Master’s touch. It would seem at a glance to be even more “throwaway” than what has preceded it. When Peter’s mother-in-law is healed, she rises and begins ministering. Put in proper perspective, this is magnificent! Let us think of it this way. You are the host or hostess that has been laid up in bed for several days. No doubt your body is weakened from the labour, but in a moment, your sickness leaves you. With a still weakened frame, you rise from your bed with all of your guests looking on as you do so. Then you begin to immediately cook food, take requests to attend to their needs, and do everything that a host or hostess would be expected to do. What would the guests think about that? After all, you were just sick! “Don’t you want to rest a bit honey? Shouldn’t we get you something instead of you serving us?”
We have a tendency to “recover” when we have been knocked around a bit. However, this woman just simply got up and started serving. The word here “ministered” is from the same word that the word “deacon” comes from. Both show forth servitude, and the spirit and heart of one that desires for others above themselves. Relating this back to a spiritual plane, I believe the Lord Jesus has had compassion and mercy upon His church repeatedly. She gets sick a lot, but He is faithful to heal her over and over. When those times of healing come to the body, we may think we are still too weakened to do much, but we should rise immediately to serve as we have been called to do.
People really do not want to receive something from a “sickie.” Whether the concern is germs or otherwise, we want sick people to be quarantined from us. When a church develops a sick reputation, people will not want to be in the room with her. However, when the sicknesses get driven away, we should be willing to minister showing forth the wellness that God has given us. These days, it is increasingly difficult to get someone to come visit your worship services. There are so many other things to do in life right now. However, one of the most popular responses I get is, “I’m not going to be with those hypocrites.” While I try not to let those statements deter me, they are discouraging. One of the best responses to a mindset like that is to explain that yes, we are sinners and imperfect. However, we strive to get better, and we dwell in a position to receive healing from on high. I do believe that the Master’s compassion and face is seen in our house more than outside of the house. Therefore, as one that gets sick in soul quite often, I need visits from the Great Physician regularly.
When I feel that reviving that the Spirit brings, I should then be willing to immediately serve rather than be served. There are people that need attending to, and I should minister to them with all that I have in me. This past weekend, I heard a wonderful expression that is going into my repertoire. The statement is that “many of God’s people are living beneath their means.” God has given us so much, and yet we fail to use what He has given us so often. Correlated to natural things, we can be like spiritual misers. When someone is blessed to have much money and not do much with it, we call them misers. We are blessed to be kings and priests unto God, and we should do much with it. Friends, I delight in the Master’s appearance to heal my sin sick soul, lay His hand upon my hurting heart, and calm my troubled mind. When those moments come, my course should be to show my thanks by helping others where I can. His healing is not given for naught. He expects a return from it. May we live in our means spiritually so that the blessing we can be to others does not go unrealized when He has healed us to be able to perform it.