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Mark 1:29–31 meaning

Mark records Jesus’s first miracle of physical healing in his Gospel. Jesus heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. 

The parallel Gospel accounts for Mark 1:29-31 are Matthew 8:14-15, Luke 4:38-39.

Mark tells us that immediately after they came out of the synagogue following the encounter with the demon-possessed man, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John (v 29).

The pronoun—they—refers to Jesus and His four friends, whom Mark recently introduced as His followers (Mark 1:16-20) Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

Mark tells us, now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever (v 30a).

Simon is the only disciple that the Bible explicitly describes as married. He also may have been the oldest and only one of the twelve disciples over the age of 20 (see the final paragraph in The Bible Says commentary for Matthew 17:24-27).

After Jesus, Simon, Andrew, James and John came into the house, Mark writes that immediately they spoke to Jesus about her feverous condition (v 30b).

Luke’s account describes the severity of her fever. He observes: “Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever” (Luke 4:38a). As a physician, Luke mentions the inherent danger of Simon’s mother-in-law’s condition. Matthew, like Mark’s account, simply states that she had “a fever” (Matthew 8:14).

Mark does not say whether they asked Jesus to help her when they let Him know about Simon’s mother-in-law who was lying sick with a fever, but Luke’s Gospel does: “and they asked Him to help her” (Luke 4:38b).

Jesus responded to their request to help Simon’s mother-in-law by healing her of the high fever.

And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her (v 31a). 

All three of the Gospels which narrate this miracle describe Jesus’s actions according to their own theme.

Matthew’s Gospel, which presents Jesus as the Messianic King, says that Jesus touched her hand (as a royal king might do) and the fever left her at His royal command (v 15). Matthew draws on this theme just after reporting what happens.

Luke’s Gospel, which presents Jesus as the perfect, ideal man, says that Jesus was “standing over her” (as a knowledgeable physician might do) “rebuked the fever, and it left her” (Luke 4:39). After investigating “everything carefully from the beginning” (Luke 1:3), Luke likely thought it important to include Jesus’s verbal rebuke to display His ultimate power over the created order.

Mark’s Gospel, which presents Jesus as a Servant, says that Jesus raised her up, taking her by the hand (as a servant might do), and the fever left her.

The healing appears to have been immediate. As soon as Simon’s mother-in-law recovered, Mark writes and she waited on them (v 31b). 

She might have served them a meal or given Jesus something to drink after a long day of teaching, interacting with the crowds, and healing others. After Jesus had served herSimon’s mother-in-law was now reciprocating the service back to Him and those who were in the house.

This is the first miracle of healing recorded in Mark’s (and Luke’s) Gospel. Together, Jesus’s healing of Simon’s mother-in-law from fever and the miracle of casting out the demon from the man in the synagogue are the first demonstrations of Jesus’s authority over the natural and supernatural orders in these two Gospels.

One final note of possible interest about this passage is where it falls in the order of events, with Luke’s account differing from those of Matthew and Mark. 

Luke presents the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law as occurring before Jesus calls Simon to be His disciple along the shore of Galilee (Luke 5:1-11). The order of these events in Matthew and Mark’s Gospels is the opposite. Matthew and Mark describe Jesus’s calling of Simon in Galilee (Matthew 4:18-20, Mark 1:16-18) before they narrate the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-17, Mark 1:29-31). This difference in arrangement is likely due to Luke’s original purpose of his Gospel account which was “to write [everything] out for you in consecutive order” (Luke 1:3). Luke’s Gospel account appears to present events in chronological order, while Matthew and Mark probably sequenced the events of their accounts thematically.

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