I was reading / studying about Peters mother today as part of my bible course, and I could not help but associate the healing of Peter’s mother to the way we should minister to the hurting. It is what I learned as a Chaplain – the ministry of presence.
In the gospel account in Luke 4:39, Jesus rebuked the fever.
“And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she rose up and ministered unto them.” (emphasis mine)
In Matthew’s account Jesus touched her.
“And when Jesus had come to Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever. And He touched her hand and fever left her; and she arose, and waited on Him.” (emphasis mine)
Again, in Mark’s account we read, He lifted her up.
“And He came to her and lifted her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her. (emphasis mine)
I would love it, if in all the times I have prayed for the sick, rebuked a fever, or laid hands on someone, the healing power of Christ flowed through me, but it has not. If it did, I would not be beseeching others for prayer on behalf of my baby grandson, still sick, and even sicker again the last few days.
However, what I should always have flowing through me is His love. In two out of three of gospel accounts we read, Jesus touched her; He raised her up. Jesus did not need to touch Peter’s mother to heal her. He had just healed the Centurions son from afar, he certainly could have healed Peters mother from across the room. But this was Peter’s mother – this was relationship building, this was compassion and concern, and touch, the right touch, is a powerful relationship builder.
Touch expresses I care, I am willing to come close to you, to enter into your discomfort to bring you comfort. Too often when someone is in pain, especially emotional or spiritual pain, we want to rush in and “rebuke”, instead of touching. We want to fix it, or tell the hurting person how they should fix it. We are not willing to simply take them by the hand, or lift them up; it takes time, it brings us into intimate contact, it makes us vulnerable to their pain.
Unless our rebuke brings forth an immediate manifestation of restoration and healing, as Jesus did, then perhaps we should confine our ministry to the comfort that He brings. As we minister to others, may they see Christ in us, and be raised up to serve Him, as Peter’s mother did.