Jesus Christ was staying at the home of his disciple Peter (also known as Simon or Simon Peter) when Peter's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever that kept her bedridden. When Jesus turned his attention to her, she made an immediate recovery. Then others who'd heard about Jesus' healing power came to him that evening to be healed. The Bible records the story of this famous healing miracle in the Gospel books of Mark 1: 29-33, Matthew 8: 14-17, and Luke 4:38-41. Here's what happened:
From a Spiritual Healing to a Physical One
Jesus had just come from a synagogue, where he had performed a spiritual healing (casting a demon out of a possessed man). Mark 1:29-30 records: "As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them."
The woman's fever may have been caused by malaria, which was common at that time in the Capernaum area where she lived. But whatever caused her fever, she recovered so quickly and completely that she was ready to go back to work right away.
Matthew also mentions that Jesus "touched her hand" when healing her (Matthew 8:15), and Luke describes Jesus speaking to the fever as well, saying that Jesus "rebuked the fever" (Luke 4:39). So the combination of Jesus' touch and words healed her.
More People in Search of Healing
That same evening, Jesus was again in demand as a miraculous healer. Matthew 8:16-17 records: "When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.'"
Jesus was both meeting people's immediate needs for healing and fulfilling a prophecy from long ago about what the world's savior would do.
In their reports about that evening, both Mark and Luke mention that Jesus wouldn't allow the demons that he cast out of people to speak. Luke 4:40-41 says: "At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, 'You are the Son of God!' But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah."
Just prior to healing Peter's mother-in-law, Jesus had driven out a demon from a man in a synagogue and commanded the demon to be quiet when it cried out: 'What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are -- the Holy One of God!' (Mark 1:24). Here, the Bible again records that Jesus told the demons not to tell people his true identity. Many Bible scholars think that Jesus urged silence for two reasons: He knew that demons would twist the truth to mislead people by how they talked about his mission on Earth, and also, people weren’t fully prepared to understand who Jesus was until after his sacrificial death and resurrection to life again had taken place.