Roast beef. Carrots roasted with the roast beef. Mashed potatoes – potatoes that have been peeled, boiled to the right tenderness, drained and then seasoned with butter, salt, a slight amount of pepper and finally mashed to the just right consistency. And maybe some sweet corn, but definitely gravy, not too thin and not too thick, made from all the drippings and juice of that roast beef. This is the best and most perfect Sunday dinner. Warm crescent rolls would be nice, too.
But this is Saturday. Luke 4:38-44 begins on Saturday. And on Saturday people would gather together for worship – to sing the Bible together; to recite the Bible together; to read the Bible together; to read the Bible some more together; to hear together the Bible taught; and to pray together.
What Happens After Worship?
But what happened after worship? The best and most perfect Saturday dinner. It was common, each Saturday, that fellowship would follow worship. And perhaps it was in someone’s home around the biggest meal of the week. Recently, I read of a local church in Vermont that each Sunday, beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving until Easter Sunday, gathers for fellowship following worship around a meal. And at Calvary we have Sundays like this, fellowship following worship around a meal. Sometimes it is soup, sometimes it is a good old fashioned potluck or sometimes it is fried chicken. Actually, each Sunday at Calvary is like this, it may not be a meal, but each Sunday fellowship follows worship and maybe it is around a cup of coffee and a cookie or two or three. But the experience is there. What happens after worship? Fellowship or perhaps put it this way: worship affects fellowship.
And this is what is happening as Luke 4:38 begins. “And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon’s house.” The best and most perfect Saturday dinner was about to be had, the biggest meal of the week. But as Jesus entered the house, there was no aroma of a roast filling the air. There was no activity heard in the kitchen. In fact, it did not look like anyone was expecting anybody for fellowship around a meal. Instead, all Jesus found was a mother-in-law.
Here laid this mother-in-law, shivering and yet bundled up with blankets. Her teeth were chattering. It hurt to even open her eyes. She was ill with a high fever. The word Luke uses to describe this fever is mega. This was a mega fever, serious and severe. Her hypothalamus had shifted her normal body temperature upward. Her body was fighting something – this is important – and it could be anything, a virus or an infection; heat exhaustion; rheumatoid arthritis or even a malignant tumor.
Notice the rest of Luke 4:38. “And they appealed to him on her behalf.” Some translations read that they begged Jesus to help her. But the question is, who are they? This is Simon’s house and Simon’s mother-in-law, so it must be that Simon was asking Jesus to help his mother-in-law. And who is this Simon? Simon is also known as Simon Peter or better known simply as Peter; yes, that Peter. And he is not the only one urging Jesus for help. If Simon has a mother-in-law, surely he has a wife. So, Simon and his wife are urging Jesus for help. But these two are not the only ones urging Jesus for help.
Simon had a brother named Andrew and he was there. Simon and Andrew had a friend named James and he was there. Simon and Andrew had another friend named John and he was there (cf. Mark 1:29). So, as Jesus entered this home for fellowship around the biggest meal of the week he was greeted by Simon and Simon’s wife and Simon’s brother and Simon’s friends with these words, “Jesus! Will you help her?! Can you help her?”
And what does Jesus say? Nothing, or Luke does not record what Jesus said. Listen to Luke 4:39. “And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her.” Jesus healed her. Matthew and Mark both record this same moment in Simon’s house. And when Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law they do not record Jesus saying a single word. But I want us to listen to how Mark records it. “And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her” (Mark 1:31; Matthew 8:15). What does Mark emphasize? It was his touch, all it took was his touch.
Matthew, Mark and Luke each agree; the fever was gone. The healing was immediate. And the healing was complete and by complete, I mean this: the fever was merely a symptom of something greater. Why would Jesus heal just the symptom and not the problem? The healing was complete and there were no lingering effects, no weakness, no need of rest. Instead, what did Simon’s mother-in-law do? She began to serve them…the biggest meal of the week! Fellowship was going to follow worship!
And Matthew, Mark and Luke each make sure we get the end result of this healing: service. She served them. It is “a living example of what Christ wants to do in believer’s lives. The measure of a Christian is not how many servants he has, but how many he serves.”
What Does Luke Want Us To See?
But is this all that Luke wants us to see? It is interesting that Matthew, Mark and Luke record no spoken words of Jesus in healing this woman. However, Luke does record that Jesus rebuked the fever. And how did he rebuke the fever? I think it was simply his touch, he took her by the hand. But the word Luke chooses to use is interesting – rebuked. Why did Simon and his wife and his brother and his two friends plead with Jesus to help Simon’s mother-in-law? They had just witnessed Jesus’ power and authority earlier in the synagogue when he rebuked a demon (4:35). It was something in which all [Simon, his wife, brother and friends included] responded, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits and they come out!” (Luke 4:36).
Luke will use this word, rebuke, again later on this very Saturday. It is in Luke 4:41 and again with demons. “And demons came out of many, crying,” notice that word crying. It may be the word shouting, instead. It is a word that means to cry out with loud screaming, like a wounded person emitting unearthly types of sounds. And what are they shouting? “‘You are the Son of God!’ But Jesus rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ” (4:41). There is that word again, rebuke. So three times on this Saturday Jesus rebukes, first a demon, then a fever and then demons. Luke purposely uses that word three times. And the question to ask is, what does Luke want us to see?
Luke 4 and this Saturday, from the synagogue to Simon’s house, is about authority, Jesus’ authority. And when it comes to Jesus’ authority Luke wants us to see two things. See that Jesus has authority and power over the supernatural. And see that Jesus has authority and power over the natural.
And The Sun Was Setting
And then the sun began to set. And what happened when the sun was setting? After Jesus demonstrated his authority and power over the supernatural back in the synagogue, when the sun hung in the sky, “reports about him went out into very place in the surrounding region” (Luke 4:37). And when the sun was setting all those who had witnessed this authority and power brought any who were sick with various diseases to him (4:40). Why did they wait though for the sun to set? The sun setting meant that Sabbath was ending and everyone knew or was led to think that there are six days to work and if you need healing, do not seek it on the Sabbath. Wait until the Sabbath was over (cf. Luke 13:14). And that seems to be what was happening here.
Again, what does Luke want us to see? Notice that Jesus was healing everyone who was brought to him. He turns no one away. But I want to point out that those coming to Jesus for healing were dealing with various diseases. The word various literally means multi-colored. These are things like leprosy and blindness and deafness and physical disabilities; you think it, Jesus healed it. And the healing was immediate and it was complete. What does Luke want us to see? Listen to Luke 4:41. In the midst of all these diseases, there are those who were under heavy demonic influence whether internally or externally. Two things; it seems that Luke is making a distinction for us between having an illness or disease and demonic activity, meaning that the two are not identical. But the bigger point is that Jesus exorcised demons, not just a demon.
Did you know that there is a hierarchy of demons? “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). There are rulers and authorities and cosmic powers and spiritual forces of evil. And so what does Luke want us to see when it comes to these various diseases and hierarchy of evil forces? There is no limit to the authority and power of Jesus over the natural and there is no limit to the authority and power of Jesus over the supernatural. His authority and power is over these rulers and these authorities and these cosmic powers and these spiritual forces.
Notice though Luke 4:40. How did Jesus heal those with various diseases? He did not speak a word, instead “he laid his hands on them.” It was his touch, all it took was his touch. Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer thought it hardly worth his while to waste his time on the old violin, but he held it up with a smile. “What am I bid, good people,” he cried, “Who starts the bidding for me?” “One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?” “Two dollars, who makes it three?” “Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three.” But, no, from the room far back a gray bearded man came forward and picked up the bow, then wiping the dust from the old violin. And tightening up the strings, he played a melody, pure and sweet as sweet as the angel sings. The music ceased and the auctioneer with a voice that was quiet and low, said “What now am I bid for this old violin?” as he held it aloft with its’ bow. “One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?” “Two thousand, who makes it three?” “Three thousand once, three thousand twice, going and gone,” said he. The audience cheered, but some of them cried, “We just don’t understand. What changed its’ worth?” Swift came the reply. “The touch of the Master’s hand.” And many a man with life out of tune all battered and bruised with hardship is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd much like that old violin. A mess of pottage, a glass of wine, a game and he travels on. He is going once, he is going twice, he is going and almost gone. But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand, the worth of a soul and the change that is wrought by the Touch of the Master’s hand.
I Must Preach the Good News of the Kingdom
Does Luke 4:38-44 teach us to think biblically about healing? Yes. Should we pray for healing? Yes. If you need healing pray for yourself. If someone you know needs healing pray for them. And if you need healing seek your pastor to pray for you and with you (James 5:13-16). Are all who ask for and seek healing healed? No. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).
Healing is temporary. It always delays the inevitable. So, why did Jesus heal? It validated his person, his ministry and his word. For never since the world began had anyone ever heard of anything or anyone like this (cf. John 9:32). Ultimately, Jesus healed for the glory of God. And there were a lot of people that Jesus did not heal. This too was for God’s glory, to show that his grace is sufficient for you and me.
But again, what does Luke want us to see? Why show us Jesus’ authority and power over the natural and Jesus’ authority and power over the supernatural? It is because it is all about preaching. Notice how Jesus puts an end to this day in Capernaum. “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose” (Luke 4:43). The point is that the cosmically authoritative Christ has come with the good news of the kingdom. The King is here. And the King is gathering citizens for his kingdom. And these citizens are the spiritually helpless and the spiritually captive and the spiritually blind and the spiritually broken. And what he can do for you eternally far outweighs what he can for you temporarily.
 R. Kent Hughes, Luke: That You May Know the Truth