Mother-in-laws have a bad reputation.  Too nosey, too controlling, too interested in keeping their child a child.  Relatives that are better dismissed. But not so in the Gospel of Mark where Simon Peter’s mother-in-law is not only the first model of discipleship, but the first to be healed by Jesus.

Mark 1:29-39 As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Where does healing begin for the mother-in-law?

Congregational Responses:
By getting up to serve.
By letting Jesus into her home.
In her house, not the synagogue where the sick weren’t permitted.

The story has been told about a pastor who showed up on the psychiatric ward to visit a congregant who had been committed.  The minister greeted him saying, “We’ve missed you so much on Sundays.”   In a blue gown and paper slippers, the member responded, “I come to this ward because my mind is sick.  It doesn’t work right.  I go to church when my spirit is sick.  But folks don’t want me in the pews.  They don’t want me to remind them that they might be sick of spirit too.”
Where does healing begin for the mother-in-law?

Instead of privately suffering in the backroom, covered in the blankets of isolation, sweaty from the hot flashes of judgment, shivering from the cold chills of shame, she let the city gather at her bedside, let Jesus touch her where it hurt most.  She went public with her illness.

I’m riddled with cancer.  I’m down to three T-cells.  I’m a late night pornographer.  I’m an adulterer.  I’m a victim of daddy’s fists.  I’m a victimizer of my own self-worth.

Whatever it is, whether you call it a spirit or a sickness, a fever or a demon, we’re all possessed by something.

And if a casting out is what you’re after, then feel bettering knowing there’s recovery in confession, there’s power in naming, there’s healing in witness.

There’s recovery in confession, there’s power in naming, there’s healing in witness.

The Church is the only institution in the world whose membership is dependent upon knowing that we are all in need of a divine physician.