While Jesus was teaching, a man possessed by a demon had interrupted him. He had shouted at Jesus. He had challenged him to show his power. Jesus did just that. With mere words, he defeated he demon. The man was released by the demon. He was healed.
As Peter watched this, something cliicked in his mind. A question. A thought.
Could Jesus do the same thing with a fever?
Granted a fever is not the same as a demon. A fever is an inanimate virus. You can’t just speak it away. You need medicine. But Jesus certainly had incredible power. His mother-in-law had been sick at home. Her fever was bad enough that she had missed today’s activities by being in bed. They could go the herbals and medicine route, fill her with water and wait. Or...since Jesus was powerful enough, maybe he'd be compassionate enough too...
“Hey Jesus! You busy tonight?”
I. Compassionate…To Close Friends
29 As soon as they left the synagogue they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her.
Jesus doesn’t make excuse. He doesn’t mention that he’s off the clock. He doesn’t say that he needs to get home. He doesn’t get annoyed that he’s been asked to do another miracle. He doesn’t refuse because there’s not a large crowd there to watch.
31 Jesus went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
Notice what he uses to heal her. It isn’t Nyquil, Dayquil, Robitussin, Theraflu, Tylenol Cold & Flu, Advil Cold & Flu, or even a bowl of good old fashioned chicken soup.
Jesus went to her, took her hand and helped her up.
This isn’t just coincidence. She had been in bed before this. She was tired. Her body was probably achy. Her knees shaking. Her hands were probably doing that things where they were sweating from within, but cold and clammy to the touch. She was in no condition to do much of anything.
But as soon as Jesus touched her that changed. She began doing things just like many other loving mother-in-lawn who expect company. She waited on them! Maybe she fixed her hair, cleaned up in the corner of the room, delivered everyone some appetizers, set the table, and put a pot on the stove for a meal.
You know--things you don’t do, when you have a fever.
This is amazing. Another incredible miracle of Jesus. One that wasn’t so life or death. Yet – one that he performed. It shows his COMPASSION. Compassion for his friends.
What about you? If you are Jesus' friend there is reason to be encouraged. He is loving and compassionate to his friend.
But what if you aren’t sure if you are a friend of Jesus? What if you haven't treated him much like a friend lately? What if you barely spend any time with him (at church), never speak to him (in prayer), and list him at the bottom of your priority list (below work friends, Hulu friends, and just about anything else.)
Even if you think you have been a good friend, certainly you'd agree that you aren't at the same level as Jesus' disciples were. You weren’t in his inner circle. You weren’t invited to intimate meals with him. You didn’t stay up late telling stories with him. You weren’t one of Jesus’ closest friends.
Why then would Jesus help you? Is he compassionate to those who aren't his friends? Or is he like other humans who kindly bring their friends a lemon tea when they are sick, but complain to the boss that your 'non-friend' co-worker is "pretending" to be sick!
Think Jesus is like that?
II. Compassionate…To All Who Seek Him
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Can you imagine what that night was like? (Good thing Peter’s mother-in-law was up and ready to serve.) Disease after disease. Sickness after sickness was knocking at the door.
“Is Jesus here? I ran back to my house after what happened at the temple today because…well…here is my daughter. She isn’t feeling well. Can you help?"
“Hey Jesus, this is my grandma. She has cancer. Can you help?”
“Hi Jesus. My great uncle Mordecai is back there. He didn’t come to the door because he has leprosy. Can you help?”
“Hey Jesus. *Cough *Cough* I have a cold. Can you help?”
Some who came to that door were probably deathly sick. Others maybe not so much. But it didn’t matter. Jesus had compassion. He healed them. He had compassion and healed all who sought him.
He never stopped and said, “No not you. I don’t like you.” Or “I will heal you, you, and you…but not you because you like the Tarheels.” NEVER! Jesus had compassion on all who sought him. No matter who they were!
No matter who you are. No matter what is wrong. Jesus has compassion for you.
Keep that in mind. There is zero reason for any of you to feel like Jesus won’t help you! We just saw it. He listens to all who approach him. He has compassion for all! He has compassion for you.
Maybe you know this, but do you practice it? When you are sick, what do you do? Look up your symptoms on WebMD? Head to Walgreens? Ask around for a good doctor?
Those are all fine. But did you notice what was missing? Why not do what the crowd does first of all? Why not ask Jesus for compassion!?!
You don't even have to go to Simon Peter's house to find him.
Feeling bad at work? Go to him in prayer.
Sneezing in the car? Go to him in prayer.
Headache keeping you in bed? Go to him in prayer.
He is compassionate to all who seek him!
III. Compassionate…By Doing Nothing!?!
Now. Perhaps you are thinking. "Fine. But why doesn’t he help me? Why doesn’t he listen to my prayers? Why hasn’t my financial situation gotten easier? I've had arthritis for years. I"ve prayed for it to get better. It hasn't. It has gotten worse!?! Why hasn’t my friend gotten better? Why aren’t I in better health? Why did my dear friend have to die? Why does Jesus continue to help me by doing nothing!?!"
"Maybe he's uncompassionate after all."
The mood has changed. So has the narrative:
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
It’s easy to understand why Jesus went off by himself. He needed a little bit of a break. He needed a rest. A time to reflect on yesterday and a time to get guidance for the coming day. He needed some quiet time with God. (Something that…if you don’t take time to do, I highly recommend it. God loves to hear from you and speak to you in his Word. Grab a bible. Grab a coffee. Start off your day with God.)
But then the disciples come after him. A little groggy-eyed, but moving quickly. As soon as light had hit people started showing up at the house. Peter’s mother-in-law was entertaining again. The disciples were saying things like “I’m sure he’ll be back any moment.” Maybe – Matthew had stayed back at the house to entertain the visitors with the best Tax Collector jokes that he knew. But these people needed Jesus. They wanted his compassion.
We’d expect Jesus to give it to them. He is compassionate after all. In fact, there’s another instance in the Bible when a very similar situation happens and Jesus goes out to the people out of compassion.
This is why his response is so surprising.
38 Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come."
Does that seem unfair to you? Does that seem like Jesus doesn't have any compassion? Maybe he's tired. Maybe he's selfish. Maybe he's annoyed. But not compassionate.
Are you sure? Listen to him explain himself: “Let us go…so I can preach. That is why I have come.”
A couple of weeks back we heard a sermon that said JESUS IS URGENT. In that sermon Scripture recorded that Jesus began his ministry by preaching. He preached, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near."
This is what Jesus came to do.
In our text, Jesus could have returned. He could have healed people. He could have helped them all day long with their physical desires an their physical health. Once he got rid of all the serious stuff he could have moved on to less serious stuff. He could have helped people lose weight. He could have given people 20/20 vision. He could have made money appear magicaly in people’s pockets.
But he didn’t. He didn't because there was a much more serious matter to address.
If all he did was play pro bono doctor all day long, then he wouldn’t have gotten around to preaching God’s Word. He never would have gotten around to healing what really mattered. The sin sick heart. A problem that results in guilt, shame, death, and eternity in hell!
If Jesus would have ignored this problem, then he’d be like the doctor who sees the cancer on the MRI, but only prescribes a Band Aid and some Neosporin to get rid of the hangnail.
Jesus knew better. It’s why he said no. It’s why he moved on. It’s why he had to preach. It’s why He was compassionate by doing nothing!
Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe that’s the answer for you.
Are you sick? Do you hurt? Have you been going to Jesus in prayer because of arthritis? Have you been calling on him to heal your terminally ill relative? Have you been praying every morning, afternoon, and evening for his compassion and help?
Good. Keep doing that. He hears you.
But perhaps he won’t respond as you like. This isn’t because he isn’t compassionate. It isn’t because he isn’t compassionate for you. We just saw that in today’s lesson.
But perhaps it is because He is compassionate. Because he does love you. Because he loves you more than you can imagine.
Thinks of what happens during sickness. You are more connected to Him than ever. It’s the sad truth of the human spirit. God wants that for you. God wants you connected to Him. He wants you to believe in Him, to trust in Him, to grow in his Word, to come and hear the Gospel about Him, because Jesus is the only one who can save you from an eternity in hell. He is the only one who can save you from your sins!
So understand this: Jesus has compassion for you. This is truth! Even when he does nothing, he has compassion for you. He has compassion for your body, yes. But he is most passionate about showing compassion for your souls.
He died to heal you from the guilt of your terrible sins with God’s forgiveness.
He longs to heal you from the shame of your past actions with God’s love.
He desires to heal your nervousness of God's approvals with the promise of His peace.
He wants so very badly to heal your loneliness with his eternal presence.
In Jesus he does just that.
More than preach about it, Jesus accomplished the message of his preaching. He lived perfectly, died innocently, and rose triumphantly for the forgiveness of your sins and the salvation of your soul. This isn’t something you deserve. This isn’t something you could do on your own. This is something he did out of his compassion for you.
I was having a spiritual conversation with a fried recently. She was very sad. She had a lot of guilt on her shoulders. She had lost her job. She admitted it was mostly her fault. Her child had suffered because of it. There wasn’t enough clothing. There wasn’t enough food. There wasn’t always a good place to live.
Now she realized it. It ate away at her. She was heartbroken.
But then…God. Colossians 2:13 is what did it.
“When you were dead in your sins…God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.”
Now the tears were different.
Now they were tears of thanksgiving.
Now they were tears that had experienced compassion.
An otherworldly compassion. Jesus’ incredible compassion.
May his healing compassion be with you always! Amen.