“Your Tables Are Waiting!"
September 23, 2020
Scripture Readings: Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38-39
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus!
You might remember from last Wednesday’s devotion that I had been speaking with a colleague early last week, joking about Scripture passages we enjoyed for different reasons. I had mentioned Martha’s reaction to Jesus raising her brother Lazarus in the King James Version: “O Lord, he stinketh” (that was the basis of last Wednesday’s devotion). My colleague mentioned today’s assigned readings – Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law.
This is an unusual event in Jesus’ ministry. It is mentioned by all three of the Synoptic Gospel writers – Matthew, Mark, and Luke. That doesn’t happen with every event in Jesus’ ministry. If you read all three accounts, each writer also reports this as a fairly straightforward event – almost even using the exact same words, with the only major difference being that Luke, who was a doctor, mentions a fever. Whenever that happens, it should be noted that this is an important event
Now to what made my colleague laugh. This event from Jesus’ ministry is today so politically incorrect and offensive to many. Did you catch it? Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law and she immediately puts on her apron, picks up her tray and starts waiting on them. It’s almost as if “the boys” are hungry, “Mama” is under the weather, so instead of getting up and getting something for themselves, Jesus heals “Mama” and puts her to work.
Why did Matthew, Mark, and Luke all find this event important to report (or to keep this a proper question – why did the Holy Spirit move all three Gospel writers to include this)? Take a leap here with me. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with hunger or thirst. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus’ healing powers. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus’ care and concern for the family members of His disciples. It probably doesn’t even have anything to do with issuing a “Standard Operating Procedure” that women should wait on men or anything related to the order of creation. I believe that stuff can be planted in our minds by the devil as excuses or reasons not to read or study this passage or to dismiss it.
If you take the leap with me, I think there is a much deeper meaning! This event is intended to teach us cause and effect (Matthew 5:13-16; Mark 9:33-37; John 8:31-36; Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 Peter 4:8-10). When Jesus heals, it elicits a response from us. At least it should!
For Peter’s mother-in-law, that effect was to wait on them. It sounds to me like she had the gift of hospitality. She was probably an excellent cook and found joy sharing that talent with others (and if you don’t have that talent, you know how much of a talent it is). It was probably her “love language.” She is likely a wonderful example of how God gifts us and then allows us to use those gifts that we enjoy in His Kingdom work (at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.....).
Make no mistake. Jesus has healed each of us in a very similar way. In the waters of Holy Baptism, linking us to His death and Resurrection (Colossians 2:9-19), Jesus has washed away our deadly fever of sin, death and the power of the devil. In much the same way as the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), Jesus comes to our rescue, meeting us in our deepest moment of need, saving our lives, then saying “Go and live.” In much the same way as the Wise Men / Magi (Matthew 2:1-12), coming into contact with the Christ Child sends us home a different way, as changed people. In much the same way as Ananias (Acts 9:11-16), God has prepared people who need us and are waiting for us.
“Your tables are waiting!” We’ve all heard those words in a restaurant – at least on television.
But God says those words to you and me today!
Go in peace and serve the Lord!
Prayer of St. Francis: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace; Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; To be understood, as to understand; To be loved, as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. Amen.”
Grace and peace to you!
Pastor Christopher Schaar