Signposts: Daily Devotions

Thursday, March 3

Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus 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.
—Mark 1:30-33

One year, when there was a particularly virulent flu season, and many of my friends had not just aches and pains, sore throats and colds, but also debilitating fever, I remember reading this scripture. Afterwards, I thought about how the woman must have felt when Jesus simply took her by the hand, lifted her up, and, voila, the fever was gone. 

Think of the power of his touch, the relief and release she must have felt. She must have been overcome with awe and wonder. Just who is this young man her son-in-law Simon Peter has befriended and brought home?

Mark does not tell us what she felt, but he does tell us what she did. "She began to serve them." For years, I have heard women say, "Of course, she got up and fixed dinner!" and wag their heads in sympathy. Only recently did I learn that the word here for serve is the same word used when Jesus is in the wilderness tempted by the devil, and angels come and serve (minister to) him.

This woman is doing for Jesus what the angels did. Jesus uses the word serve again when he admonishes his ambitious disciples, telling them that the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve. So this feverish woman, healed and restored, becomes a model for all of us, male and female alike. When Jesus touches us and lifts us up, the first thing we are called to do is to serve others.

Thanks be to God for this woman's model of ministry—and for those Biblical commentators who enlighten us about vocabulary.

Lord Jesus Christ, you came not to be served, but to serve. Help us to remember this and to live accordingly. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.