Christ the Joyful Healer

Bob RoaneJesus Christ, Joy and Peace, Safety and Security in Christ

As soon as Jesus and His disciples left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So He went to her, took her hand, and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

Jesus Loves to Heal

Pastor Dane Ortlund wrote the book, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers. In that book he quotes Pastor Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680): Christ’s own joy, comfort, happiness, and glory are increased by His showing grace and mercy, in pardoning, relieving, and comforting His people here on earth, and fully and finally in heaven.

Ortlund then told of a compassionate doctor who traveled deep into the jungle to provide medical care to a primitive tribe afflicted with a contagious disease. He had his medical equipment flown in and had correctly diagnosed their problem. The doctor offered the antibiotics and other medicines for free. But as he tried to care for the needy ones, they refused. They thought they could heal themselves. Finally, a few brave young people stepped forward to receive the remedies being freely provided. What did the doctor feel when the people changed their minds? Joy! And his joy increased as more and more sick people came to him for help and healing. It’s the whole reason he came.

Jesus Christ is the same. He never gets flustered and frustrated when we come to Him repeatedly for healing our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual hurts. He is never annoyed when we come to Him for help with our guilt, our need, our distress, and our emptiness. He came to heal; that’s the whole point. Jesus said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I didn’t come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners to repent.”1

In Mark’s Gospel, Christ shows and tells that He is King of kings and Lord of lords on every page. Compassion is Jesus’ love in action and He deals with whatever hurts us (sin, sickness, addictions, wounds, scars, uncleanness, etc.). Christ is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power.

Joy to the World

Jesus’ healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, coupled with Goodwin’s quote and Ortlund’s book reminds me of Isaac Watts’ hymn below. It’s not only a Christmas hymn and Watts did not write it to be. He was writing about Christ’s work that began when Jesus was on earth and now continues as He is enthroned in heaven. Listen to these familiar words again:

1. Joy to the world! the Lord is come: Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room, And heaven and nature sing.

2. Joy to the earth! the Savior reigns: Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy.

3. No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.

4. He rules the world with truth and grace, And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love.

Watts was influenced by Psalm 98 and wrote about heaven and earth rejoicing at King Jesus’ First and Second Comings. In stanza three, the song speaks of Christ’s blessings extending victoriously over our fallen world. Stanza four calls all nations to celebrate because God’s faithfulness has brought salvation to the whole planet.

Peter’s Mother-in-law

Doctor Luke said that this woman had a high fever, but we don’t know what disease caused the fever. Jesus’ miracle reminds us that He is concerned and compassionate about our extreme troubles and our ordinary, daily ones also. Nothing is too big that He can’t handle it. Nothing too small that He doesn’t care about it. Christ goes to her, leads her by the hand, helps her up, and takes away her fever immediately.

Peter’s mother-in-law proves that she has fully recovered by waiting on and serving them. It’s a sign of her physical wholeness and her spiritual love for Christ who healed her. Her service is not menial or trivial. In the desert, angels served Jesus in a similar way. This woman even imitates God. Psalm 136:25 says: “He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.” We can imitate the Lord too as we treat others kindly and generously.

Saved to Serve

Service is a key attribute of Christ Himself. Remember Chuck Swindol’s outline of Mark’s Gospel:

1:1-8:30 8:31-end
The Servant at Work The Servant Rejected then Exalted
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…
(Service to others)

…and to give His life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
(Sacrifice for others)

Jesus is the Servant of the Lord who shows us that service is a key part of following Him. He said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”2 Commentator David Garland notes that Jesus’ female followers seemed to grasp the need to sacrifice themselves in service to others quicker than the men.3 Many women who had been cured from sin and sickness traveled with Christ and the Twelve and supported them from their own resources.4 Some of these same women stood with Jesus at the cross and witnessed His resurrection.5 This miracle reveals that God heals us so that we may serve Him and others.

Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) was a devout Christian and prison reformer. She wrote: Since my heart was touched by God at age seventeen, I have never awakened from sleep, in sickness or in health, by day or by night, without my first waking thought being how best I might serve my Lord.

Living for Jesus

I love this miracle that’s described so simply. Peter’s mother-in-law was sick and impaired. Then she is restored, renewed, and revived to wholeness, health, and caring. Christ is the Lord of reversals who takes away our burdens so that we can bless others. Jesus is the God of the Old Testament who says, I am the Lord, who heals you.6

Let’s do little things for Christ as if they were great, because of the majesty of the Lord Jesus we love and serve. And let’s do great things for Him and others as if they were little and easy, because of Christ’s power working in and through us!7

Notes: 1 Mark 2:17; Matt 9:13.     2 Mark 9:35.      3 NIV Application Commentary.     4 Luke 8:1-3.     5 Mark 15:40-41; 16:1-8.     6 Exodus 15:26.     7 Adapted from Blaise Pascal.