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.” (Matthew 8:14–15 ESV)
Following Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), the healing of a leper (Matt. 8:1-4) and His healing of a Roman centurion’s servant as Jesus entered the town of Capernaum (Matt. 8:5-13), Jesus then entered Peter’s house.
“Peter was raised in bilingual Galilee. John 1:44 says that the home of Andrew (his brother) and Peter was Bethsaida, the whereabouts of which is difficult to place archaeologically. The only site about which we know is east of the Jordan in the district called Gaulanitis. Yet John 12:21 places Bethsaida in Galilee; however, it is possible that John is reflecting the popular use of the term “Galilee” rather than the legally correct one. Peter and Andrew had a fishing business centered in Capernaum (Mark 1:21, 29) and perhaps were partners with James and John (Luke 5:10). It is also likely that they intermittently continued in their business while disciples, as indicated in the fishing scene in John 21:1–8,” explains one commentator.
Upon entering Peter’s house, Jesus saw that the apostle’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. She was lying down. The phrase sick with a fever (πυρέσσω; pyresso) is a present active participle meaning that this was continuous condition. Mark 1:30 records that she was lying in bed. Luke 4:38 mentions that she was immobilized by this fever. In other words, she was very and continuously ill.
Therefore, the New Testament tells us that Peter was married. Perhaps his mother-in-law was living with Peter. In fact, it is possible that his home became Jesus’ headquarters in Galilee. (Matthew 8:14 may indicate that Jesus dwelt there.)
I Corinthians 9:5 says, “Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” It is very likely that Peter took his wife with him on his missionary journeys.
“A newly married couple normally lived with the husband’s family until they made enough money to move out on their own. Many parents died while their children were young adults, so it is possible that Simon and Andrew took over their parents’ home. Simon’s father-in-law had probably passed away, and Simon and his wife had taken her widowed mother into their home. Caring for one’s extended family was more common then than it is today,” explains commentator Craig Keener.
Upon seeing Peter’s mother-in-law lying ill in bed with a fever, He touched her hand. As He touched the leper (8:3), Jesus personally touched the woman. Often, religious men refrained from touching women in general, and the sick in particular, to avoid any possibility of becoming unclean; unless they had means by which they could ascertain their status (based on Lev 15:19). Jesus did not care about this cultural tradition. He firmly grasped this sick woman’s hand.
As He did, the fever left her. What internal virus the fever was attacking in her body, both the illness and the fever left her. She felt well gain. How do we know this is true? Peter’s mother-in-law immediately rose from her bed and began to serve Jesus. The word serve (διακονέω; diakoneo) literally means a waiter of tables. We derive our English word deacon from this Greek word.
“Archaeologists think they have found Peter’s house in Capernaum, under the ruins of a church built there early in church history, corroborating the historicity of Matthew 8:14–17. In any case, Jesus finds Peter’s mother-in-law “sick with a fever” when He enters the home (v. 14). According to tradition it is improper to touch a feverish individual, but Jesus breaks this unbiblical custom and heals the woman (v. 15). Her restoration is instantaneous, and she immediately rises and serves her guest. By the Messiah’s great authority, disease must vanish when He desires to bring healing,” states Dr. R. C. Sproul.
By Jesus’ great authority, the disease of sin vanishes by grace alone, through faith alone. This is because of the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Thank you Lord for your atoning that brings healing to our souls.
Soli deo Gloria!