A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, May 23, 1875, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *3/24/2012
And immediately, when they were come out of the synagogue, they
entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But
Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and immediately they
tell him about her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her
up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered to them.
And in the evening, when the sun had set, they brought to him all who
were diseased, and those who were possessed with demons. And all the
city was gathered together at the door. [Mr 1:29-33]
For other sermons on this text:
[See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Mr 1:31"]
1. We see before us small beginnings and grand endings. One man is called by the voice of Jesus, and then another; the house where they lived is consecrated by the Lord’s presence, and eventually the whole city is stirred from end to end with the name and fame of the Great Teacher. We are often wishing that God would do some great thing in the world, and we look around for instruments which we think would be particularly fit, and think of places where the work might suitably begin: it might be quite as well if we asked the Lord to make use of us, and if we were believingly to hope that even our feeble instrumentality might produce great results by his power, and that our home might become the central point from which streams of blessing should flow out to refresh the neighbourhood.
2. Peter’s house was by no means the most notable building in the town of Capernaum. It was probably not the poorest dwelling in the place, for Peter had a boat of his own, or perhaps a half share in a boat with his brother Andrew, or possibly he and Andrew and James and John were proprietors of some two or three fishing boats, for they were partners, and they appear to have employed hired servants. [Mr 1:20] Still Peter was not rich nor famous, he was neither a ruler of the synagogue, nor an eminent scribe, and his house was not at all remarkable among the houses which made up the little fishing suburb down by the seashore. Yet Jesus went to this house. He had foreknown and chosen it of old, and had resolved to make it renowned by his presence and miraculous power. There hung the fisherman’s nets outside the door — the sole escutcheon [a] and hatchment [b] of one who was ordained to sit upon a throne and judge with his fellow apostles the twelve tribes of Israel. Beneath that lowly roof Emmanuel condescended to unveil himself: “God with us” showed himself to be God with Simon. Little did Peter know how divine a blessing entered his house when Jesus crossed the threshold, nor how vast a river of mercy would stream out from his door down the streets of Capernaum. Now, dear friend, it may be that your home, though very dear to you, is not very much thought of by anyone else; no poet or historian has ever written its annals, nor artist engraved its image. Perhaps it is not the very poorest cottage in the place in which you live; still it is obscure enough, and no one as he rides along asks, “Who lives there?” or, “What remarkable house is that?” Yet is there no reason why the Lord should not visit you and make your house like that of Obededom, in which the ark abode, or like that of Zacchaeus to which salvation came. Our Lord can make your dwelling the centre of mercy for the whole region, a little sun scattering light in all directions, a spiritual dispensary distributing health to the multitudes around. There is no reason except in yourself why the Lord should not make your residence in a city a greater blessing to it than the cathedral and all its clergy. Jesus does not care for fine buildings and carved stones; he will not disdain to come beneath your cottage roof, and coming there he will bring a treasury of blessings with him, which shall enrich your house, and shall ensure the richest of blessings for your neighbours. Why should it not be? Do you have faith to pray this moment that it may be so? How much do I wish you would! More good by far will be done by a silent prayer now offered by yourself to that effect than by anything which can be spoken by me. If every Christian here will now raise the supplication, “Lord, dwell where I dwell, and in so doing make my house a blessing to the neighbourhood,” marvellous results must follow.
3. I am going to speak of three things this morning. The first is, How grace came to Peter’s house; secondly, What grace did when it got there; and thirdly, How grace flowed out from Peter’s house.
4. I. HOW GRACE CAME TO PETER’S HOUSE.
5. The first link in the chain of causes was that a relative was converted. Andrew had heard John the Baptist preach, and had been impressed. The text which was blessed to him was probably, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Andrew followed Jesus, and having become a disciple, he desired to lead others to be disciples too. He began, as we all ought to begin, with those nearest to him by ties of relationship; “He first finds his own brother Simon.” Beloved friend, if you are yourself saved, you should look around you and enquire, “To what house may I become a messenger of salvation?” Perhaps you have no family of your own; I do not know whether Andrew had: he seems at the time of this narrative to have lived in a part of the same house as Peter: possibly each of them had a house at Bethesda, which was their own city, but they lived together when they went on business to Capernaum. Perhaps Andrew had no wife, and no children; I cannot tell. If it were so, I feel sure that he said to himself, “I must seek the good of my brother and his family.” I believe, if we are really lively and thoughtful Christians, our conversion is an omen for good for all our relatives. We shall not idly say, “I ought to have looked after my own children and household, if I had any of my own, and having none I am excused”; but we shall consider ourselves to be debtors to those who are kindred householders. I hope that some Andrew is here who, being himself enlisted for Jesus, will be the means of conquering for Jesus a brother and a brother’s household. If there is no Andrew, I hope some of the Marys and Marthas will be fired with zeal to make up for the deficiency of the men, and will bring brother Lazarus to the Lord. Uncles and aunts should feel an interest in the spiritual condition of nephews and nieces; cousins should be concerned for cousins, and all ties of blood should be consecrated by being used for purposes of grace. Moses, when he led the people out of Egypt, would not leave a hoof behind, nor ought we to be content to leave one relative a slave to sin. Abraham, in his old age, took up sword and buckler for his nephew Lot, and aged believers should look around them and seek the good of the most distant members of their families; if it were always so the power of the gospel would be felt far and wide. The household of which Peter was master might never have known the gospel if a relative had not been converted.
6. This first link of grace drew on another of much greater importance, namely, that the head of the family became a convert. Andrew sought out his brother and spoke to him of having found the Messiah: then he brought him to Jesus, and our Lord at once accepted the new recruit, and gave him a new name. Peter believed and became a follower of Christ, and so the head of the house was on the right side. Heads of families, what responsibilities rest upon us! We cannot shake them off, let us do what we may! God has given us little kingdoms in which our authority and influence will tell for the better or the worse for all eternity. Every child or a servant in our house will be impressed for good or evil by what we do. True, we may have no wish to influence them, and we may endeavour to ignore our responsibility, but it cannot be done; parental influence is a throne which no man can abdicate. The members of our family come under our shadow, and we either drip poison upon them like a deadly upas, [c] or else beneath our shade they breathe an atmosphere perfumed with our piety. The little boats are fastened to our larger vessel and are drawn along in our wake. Oh fathers and mothers, the ruin of your children or their salvation will, under God, very much depend upon you. The gracious Spirit may use you for their conversion, or Satan may employ you as the instruments of their destruction. Which is it likely to be? I charge you, consider this. It is a notable event in family history when the grace of God takes up its headquarters in the heart of the husband and the father: that household’s story will henceforth be written by another pen. Let those of us who are the Lord’s gratefully acknowledge his mercy to us personally, and then let us return to bless our household. If the clouds are full of rain they empty themselves upon the earth; let us pray to be as clouds of grace for our families. Whether we have only an Isaac and an Ishmael like Abraham, or twelve children like Jacob, let us pray for each and everyone that they may live before the Lord, and that we and all who belong to us may be bound up in the bundle of life.
7. Notice, further, that the third step in the coming of grace to Peter’s house was, that after the conversion of the brother and Peter, there were certain others converted who were partners and companions with the two brothers. It is a great help to a man to find godly work fellows. If he must needs go fishing like Peter, it is a grand thing to have a James and a John as one’s partners in the business. How helpful it is to piety when Christian men associate from day to day with their fellow Christians, and speak often one to another concerning the best things. Firebrands placed closely together will burn all the more freely, coals laid in a heap will glow and blaze, and so hearts touching hearts in divine things cause an inward burning and a sacred fervour seldom reached by those who walk alone. Many Christians are called to struggle hard for spiritual existence through having to work with unbelievers; they are not only sneered at and persecuted, but all kinds of doubts and blasphemies are suggested, and these materially hinder their growth in the heavenly life. When they are brought into this trial in the course of providence they have need of great grace to remain firm under it. Beloved brother, if in your daily business you meet no one to help but many to hinder, you must live all the nearer to God, for you require a double measure of grace; but if in the providence of God you happen to be placed where there are helpful Christian companions, do not readily change that position, even though your income would be doubled by it. I would sooner work with James and John for twenty shillings a week than with swearers and drunkards for sixty. You who reside with really consistent Christians are much favoured, and ought to become eminent Christians. You are like flowers in a conservatory, and you ought to bloom to perfection. You live in a lavender garden, and you ought to smell sweetly. Prove that you appreciate and properly use your privileged position by endeavouring to bring grace to your home, so that it may be altogether the Lord’s.
8. A fourth and more obvious step was taken when Peter and his friends were drawn closer to their Lord. The good man of the house was already saved, and his brother and companions, but by the grace of God they rose to be something more than merely saved, for they received a call to a higher occupation and a nobler service; from fishers they were to rise into fishers of men, and from rowing in their own boats to become pilots of the barque of the church. Peter was already a disciple, but he was in the background; he must come to the forefront: he had been more a fisherman than a disciple, but now he must be more a disciple than a fisherman. He must now follow Jesus by a more public affirmation, a more constant service, a closer communion, a more attentive discipleship, a fuller fellowship in suffering; and for this he must receive an inward preparation by the Divine Spirit: he was, in fact, by the call of his Lord and Master, lifted to a higher platform altogether, upon which he would remain and learn by the Spirit what flesh and blood could never reveal.
9. Beloved, what a difference there may be between one Christian and another. I have sometimes seen it with astonishment; and though I would not go so far as to say that I have seen as much difference between one Christian and another as between a Christian and a worldling; for there must always be between the lowest grade of life and the fairest form of death a wider distinction than between the lowest and highest grades of life, yet still it is a very solemn difference. We know some who are saved — at least we hope they are — but oh, how few are the fruits of the Spirit; how feeble is the light they give; how little is their consecration; how small is their likeness to him whom they call Master and Lord. Thank God, we have seen others who live in quite another atmosphere, and exhibit a far different life. It is not a higher life, I hardly like that term, for the life of God is one and the same in all believers; but it is a higher condition of the life, more developed, more vigorous, more influential; a condition of life which has a clearer eye, and a nimbler hand, a quicker ear, and a more musical speech; a life of health, whereas too many only know life as labouring under disease, and are ready to give up the ghost. There are Mephibosheths among the king’s favourites, but give me the life of Naphtali, “satisfied with favour and full of the blessing of the Lord”; or of Asher, of whom it is written, “let him dip his foot in oil.” An owl is alive though it loves the darkness, and a mole is alive though it is always digging its own grave, but give me the life of those who mount as on the wings of eagles, who live upon the fat things, full of marrow, and drink the wines on the lees well refined. These are the mighties of Israel, whose joyous energy far surpasses that of the weary and faint, whose faith is feeble and whose love is cold. Now, Peter and his friends at this time had been called from their fishing tackle and their boats to live with Jesus in his humiliation, and learn from him the secrets of the kingdom, which afterwards they were to teach to others. They had heard the Master say, “Follow me,” and they had left all at his bidding. They were in the path of fellowship, boldly pressing on at their Lord’s command, so that now they had taken a grand stride in their Christian career; and that is the time, beloved, when men bring blessings on their homes. Oh, I could sigh to think of the capacities which lie dormant in some Christians! It is sad to think how their children might grow up, and with God’s blessing become pillars in the House of the Lord, and perhaps ministers of the gospel, under the influence of an earnest consecrated father and mother: but instead of that the dulness, the lukewarmness, the worldliness, and the inconsistencies of parents are hindering the children from coming to Christ, hampering them concerning any great advances in the divine life, dwarfing their stature in grace, and doing them lifelong injury. Brethren, you do not know the possibilities which are in you when God’s Spirit rests upon you; but this much is certain, if you yourselves are called into a higher form of divine life, you shall then become mediums of blessing to your relatives. Your husband, your wife, your child, your friend, and your entire family shall be all the better for your advance in spiritual things.
10. Now, observe further, that at this time when the Lord was about to bless the household of Peter he had been further instructing Peter about Andrew and James and John, for he took them to the synagogue, and they heard him preach. A delightful sermon it was — a sermon very full of energy, and very unlike the discourses of ordinary preachers, for it had authority and power about it; and when they came home from the synagogue, after hearing such a sermon, that the blessing descended upon the house. The best of us need instruction. It is unwise for Christian people to be so busy about Christ’s work that they cannot listen to Christ’s words. We must be fed, or we cannot feed others. The synagogue must not be deserted, if it is a synagogue where Christ is present. And oh, sometimes, when the Master is present, what a power there is in the word: it is not the preacher’s eloquence, it is neither the flow of language, nor the novelty of thought; there is a secret, quiet influence which enters into the soul and subdues it to the majesty of divine love. You feel the vital energy of the divine word, and it is not man’s word to you, but the quickening voice of God sounding through the chambers of your spirit, and making your whole being to live in his sight. At such times the sermon is as manna from the skies, or as the bread and wine with which Melchizedek met Abraham; you are cheered and strengthened by it, and go away refreshed. My dear brother, my dear sister, then is the time to go home and take your Lord home with you. Peter and his friends had so enjoyed the great Teacher’s company at the synagogue that they begged him to stay with them, and so they went straight away with him from the synagogue into the house. Can you do that this morning? If my Lord shall come and smile upon you and warm your hearts, do not lose him as you go down the aisles, do not let him go when you reach the streets and are walking home. Do not grieve him by chitchat about worthless matters, but take Jesus home with you. Tell him it is noonday, and entreat him to stay with you during the heat of the day; or if it is in the evening, tell him the day is far spent, and beseech him to stay with you. You can always find some good reason for detaining your Lord. Do as the spouse of old did, when she said, “I found him whom my soul loves; I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the room of her who conceived me.” Is there not a sick one at home? Take Jesus home to her. Is there no sorrow at home? Entreat your Lord to come home to help you in your distress. Is there no sin at home? I am sure there is. Take Jesus home to purge it away. But, remember, you cannot take him home with you unless you first have him with you personally. Labour after this then; do not be satisfied without it. Resolve to be his servant — that I trust you are; to be his servant walking in the light as he is in the light, and having fellowship with him — that I hope you are; and then, having gone so far, resolve that you will take him to your friends and to your relatives, so that your whole house may be blest.
11. I desire, before I pass on to the second point, to lay great stress upon this. We have an old proverb that charity must begin at home, let me rephrase it into this, — piety must begin with yourself. Before you ask for salvation for your family, lay hold upon it for yourself. This is not selfishness: indeed, the purest benevolence makes a man desire to be qualified to benefit others; and you cannot be prepared to bless others unless God has first blessed you. Is it selfishness which makes a man stand at the fountain to fill his own cup, when he intends to pass that cup around for others to drink? Is it any selfishness for us to pray that in us there may be a well of water springing up to everlasting life, when our second thought is that out of us may flow rivers of living water by which others may be replenished? It is no selfishness to wish that the power of the Lord may be upon you, if you long to exercise that power upon the hearts of others for their good. First take care of yourselves, brethren; you cannot bless your children, you cannot bless your households until first of all the anointing of the Lord rests upon yourselves. Oh Spirit of the living God, breathe upon us, so that we may live even more abundantly, and then we shall be chosen vessels to bear the name of Jesus to others.
12. II. Now we take the second step, and show WHAT GRACE DID IN PETER’S HOUSE WHEN IT CAME THERE.
13. The first effect that grace produced was, it led the family to prayer. The four friends have come in, and no sooner are they in than they begin to speak with the Master, for the text tells us, “Immediately they tell him about her,” — of Peter’s wife’s mother who lay sick. I like that expression — I do not know whether you have noticed it — “Immediately they tell him about her.” Luke tells us “they besought him.” I have no doubt Luke is right, but Mark is right too. “They tell him about her.” It looks to me as if it taught me this — that sometimes all I may do with my severe affliction is just to tell my own dear Lord about it, and leave it to his loving judgment to act as he sees fit. Have you any temporal trouble or sickness in the house? Tell Jesus about it. Sometimes that is almost as much as you may do. You may beseech him to heal that dear one, but you will have to say, “Not as I wish, but as you will,” and so will feel that all you may do is to tell Jesus the case and leave it with him. He is so gentle and loving, that he is sure to do the kindest thing, and the thing which is most right to do; therefore we may be content to “tell him about her.” With regard to spiritual things, we may press and be very importunate, but with regard to temporal things, we must draw a line, and be satisfied when we have told Jesus and left the matter to his discretion. Some parents may, when their children are ill, plead with God in a way which shows more of nature than of grace, more clearly the affection of the mother than the resignation of the Christian; but such should not be the case. If we have committed our way to the Lord in prayer, and meekly told him about our grief, it will be our wisdom to be still, and watch and wait until God the Lord shall speak. He cannot be either unjust or unkind, therefore we should say, “Let him do what seems good to him.”
14. Very likely this good woman, Peter’s wife’s mother, was herself a believer in Christ; but I venture to take her case as typical of spiritual sickness, not at all wishing, however, to insinuate that she was spiritually sick, for she may have been one of the most devoted of Christians. But now, suppose you take Jesus Christ home with you, dear friend, if you have an unconverted one in the house, you will immediately begin to “tell him about her.” “They told him about her.” That is a very simple type of prayer, is it not? Yes, in some respects it is, and therefore I urge you to use it. Do not say you cannot pray for your child; you can tell Jesus about her. Do not say you cannot plead for your brother or your sister; you can go, and in a childlike manner tell Jesus about the case, and that is prayer. To describe your needs is often the best way of asking for help. I have known a person say to a man of whom he needed aid, “Now, I am not going to ask you for anything, I only want you to hear my story, and then you shall do as you like”; and if he wisely tells his story, the other begins to smile, and says, “You do not call that asking, I suppose?” Tell Jesus Christ all about it; his view of the matter will be to your advantage.
15. This elementary form of prayer is very powerful. The police do not allow people to beg in the streets, but I do not know that there is any law to prevent their sitting down in postures of misery and exhibiting holes at the knees of their trousers and bare feet staring through soleless shoes. I saw that exhibition this morning. The man was not begging, but it was wonderfully like it, and answered the purpose better than words. To tell Jesus Christ about your unconverted relative or friend may have in it a great deal of power, may be, in fact, one of the most earnest things you could do; because the absence of spoken pleas and arguments may arise from your being so burdened with anxiety that you cannot find words to say, “Lord relieve me,” but you stand there and sigh under the burden, and those groanings which cannot be uttered act as urgent pleas with the compassionate heart of Christ, and cry aloud in his ear, “Lord, help me.”
16. Telling Jesus is a simple mode of praying, but I think it is a very believing mode. It is as if they felt, “We only need to tell the case, and our blessed Lord will attend to it. If immediately we tell him about her, there shall be no need to clasp his knees and cry with bitter tears for pity upon the fevered one; for as soon as he hears, so loving is his heart, he will stretch out his hand of power.” Go to Jesus, then, dear friends, in that spirit, about your unconverted friend or child, and “Tell him about her.”
17. There is something very instructive about this particular case, because we are apt to think we must not tell the Lord of the more common troubles which occur in our family; but this is a great error. Too common? How can the commonness of an evil remove it from the list of proper subjects for supplication? The seaboard of Capernaum where Peter lived is said by travellers to be a particularly damp, marshy, aguish, feverish place. No end of people had the fever just around the house; but Peter and Andrew did not argue that they must not tell the Lord because it was a common disease. Do not let Satan get an advantage over you by persuading you to keep back commonplace troubles or sins from your loving Lord. Beloved, if he counts the hairs of your heads, if not a sparrow falls to the ground without his knowledge, depend upon it your most common trouble will be sympathised with by him. “In all their afflictions he was afflicted.” It is a great mistake to think you may not carry to your Redeemer the ordinary trials of the day; tell him, yes, tell him all. If your child is only a common sinner, if there is no unusual depravity in him, if your son has never grieved you by perverseness, if your daughter has always been amiable and gentle, do not think there is no need to pray. If it is only a common case of the fever of sin, yet it will be deadly in the end unless a balm is found, therefore tell Jesus about it at once. Do not wait until your son becomes a prodigal, pray at once! Do not delay until your child is at death’s door, pray now!
18. But sometimes a difficulty arises from the other side of the matter. Peter’s wife’s mother was attacked by no ordinary fever. We are told it was “a great fever”: the expression used implies that she was burning with fever; and she was intensely debilitated, for she was laid out or prostrate. Now the devil will sometimes insinuate, “It is of no use for you to take such a case to Jesus; your son has acted so shamefully, your daughter is so wilful: such a case will never yield to divine grace in answer to prayer.” Do not be held back by this wicked suggestion. Our Lord Jesus Christ can rebuke great fevers, and he can lift up those who are broken down and rendered powerless by raging sin. “Wonders of grace to God belong.” Go and tell Jesus about the case, common or uncommon, ordinary or extraordinary even as they told Jesus about her.
19. Now, notice one or two reasons why we think they were driven to tell Jesus about her. I know the great reason, but I will mention the little ones first. I imagine they told Jesus about her, at first, because it was a contagious fever, and it is hardly right to bring a person into a house that has a great fever in it, without letting them know. If there is a great sin in your house, you may perhaps feel in your heart, “How can Jesus Christ come to my house while my drunken husband acts as he does?” Perhaps, more sorrowful still, the wife drinks in secret, and the husband, who sees it with deep regret, says, “How can I expect the Lord to bless us?” Or perhaps some great, sad sin has defiled your child, and you may well say, “How can I expect the Lord to smile on this house? I might as well expect a man to come into a house which is infected with typhoid fever.” Never mind. Tell Jesus all about it, and he will come, fever or no fever, sin or no sin.
20. I think perhaps they told him about her because it would be some excuse for the scantiness of the food they were likely to give. What could Peter and Andrew do at preparing a meal? The principal person in the house was ill and could not serve. We poor men are miserable hands at spreading a table, we need a Mary or a Martha to help us, or a Peter’s wife, or a Peter’s wife’s mother. And so they say with long faces, “Good Master, we would gladly entertain you well, but she who would delight to serve you is sick.” How often a family is hindered from entertaining Christ through some sick soul that is in the house. “Oh Lord, we would have family prayer, but we cannot: the husband will not permit it.” “Lord, we would make this household ring with your praises, but we should make one occupant of it so angry that we are obliged to be quiet.” “We cannot give you a feast good Lord: we have to set before you a little as best we can, or the house would grow too hot to hold us.” Never mind. Tell Jesus about it; and Jesus will come and dine with you, and turn the impediment into an assistance.
21. Moreover, the faces of the friends looked so sad. I dare say while in the synagogue Peter had almost forgotten about his wife’s mother, he had been so pleased with the preaching, but when he reached home the first question when he crossed the door was, “How is she now?” The servants replied, “Alas, master, the fever rages terribly.” Down went Peter’s spirits, a cloud came over his countenance; and he turned to Jesus and cried, “Good Master, I cannot help being sad, even though you are here, for my wife’s mother, whom I love much, is sick with a fever.” That sadness may have helped Peter to “tell him about her.”
22. But I think the grand reason was this, that our blessed Lord had such a sympathetic heart that he always drew everyone’s grief out of them. Men could not keep anything to themselves where he was. He looked like one who was so much like yourself; so much in all points tried like you are, that you could not help telling him. I exhort you who love my Lord to allow his sweet sympathy to extract from you the grief which wrings your heart; and let it constrain you to tell him about your unconverted relative. He endured the opposition of sinners against himself, he loved the souls of men, and died for them; and, therefore, he can tenderly enter into the anxieties which you feel for souls rebellious and hardened in sin. Therefore, “tell him about her.”
23. I think, however, that they told him about her because they expected that he would heal her. Tell Jesus about your child, or your friend, who is unconverted, and expect that he will look upon them with an eye of love. He can save. It is like him to do it. He delights to do it. It will honour him to do it. Expect him to do it, and tell him the case of your unregenerate friend this very day.
24. May I ask this question of you all? Each of you has, probably, someone left in your family unsaved, and you have said, “I was in hopes that this one would be converted.” Have you ever told Jesus about her or about him? Oh, I hope you can answer, “Yes, I have many times” but it is just possible you have not made a determined business of it. Begin now, and go upstairs and take time every day to tell the Lord every bit about Jane, or Mary, or Thomas, or John. Wrestle with God, if needs be, all night long, and say, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” I do not think that many of you will be very long with that trouble to carry when you have told it to your Lord in that manner. This is what they did when Jesus came. Immediately they told him about her, for the word “Immediately” is really what the Greek means. As soon as Christ went in they told him about her, and Christ immediately went to heal her.
25. So the first work grace accomplished in the house was it led them to pray; and, secondly, this led the Saviour to heal their sick. He went into the room, spoke a word, gave a touch, lifted up the sick woman, and she was restored, and the wonderful thing was, she was able to rise from the bed immediately and wait upon them. This never occurs in the cure of a fever, for when a fever goes it leaves the patient very weak, and he needs days and weeks, and sometimes months, before he recovers his accustomed strength. But the cures of Christ are perfect; and so at once the patient rose up and ministered to them.
26. So we see that when grace came into that house and performed its cure it quite transformed the family. Look at the difference. There is the poor woman, the patient, shivering, and then again burning, for the fever is on her; she can scarcely lift hand or foot. Now look at her, she is busily serving, with a smiling face; no one is more happy or healthy than she. So when God’s grace comes, the one who has been the object of the most anxiety becomes the happiest of all; the sinner, saved by sovereign grace, becomes servant of the Lord; the patient becomes the hostess.
27. Notice the change in the rest of them. They had all been heavy of heart, but now they are rejoicing. There is no anxiety on Peter’s face now, Andrew is no more troubled, the skeleton in the closet has disappeared, the sickness has been chased out, and they can all sing, a glad hymn. The house is changed from a hospital to a church, from an infirmary to a banqueting hall. The Lord himself seems changed, too, if change can come over him, for, from a physician, going carefully into a sickroom, he comes out a King who has subdued an enemy, and they all look upon him with wonder and reverence as the mighty Lord, victorious over invisible spirits. Now, I pray God that our household may be transformed and transfigured in this way: our Luz become a Bethel, our valley of Achor a door of hope, our sons of perverseness a generation to serve the Lord. If you yourself receive a fulness of grace, the next step is for your families to receive from the boundless fulness, until not one shall be soul sick at home, but all shall be happy in the Lord, all, all shall serve him.
28. III. When mercy had once entered, let us see HOW GRACE FLOWED OUT FROM THE HOUSE.
29. They could not keep the fact hidden indoors that Peter’s wife’s mother was cured. I do not know who told about it. Had it been in our day I should have thought it was one of the servants over the backyard fence, where they are so fond of talking; or perhaps some friend who came in, and was told the news. Perhaps the doctor called around to see the good woman, and, to his utter astonishment, found her up and about the house. He goes to his next patient, and says, “My business will soon come to an end; my patient who had the fever yesterday has been made perfectly well by one Jesus, a prophet of Nazareth.” Somehow or other it leaked out. You cannot keep the grace of God a secret; it will reveal itself. You need not advertise your religion: live it, and other people will talk about it. It is good to speak for Christ whenever you have a fair opportunity, but your life will be the best sermon.
30. The story went through the city, and a poor man upon crutches said to himself, “I will hobble down to Peter’s house!” Another who used to creep through the streets on all fours quietly whispered “I will go to Peter’s house and see.” Others, moved by the same impulse, started out for the same place. Many who had sick ones said, “We will carry our friends to Peter’s house”; so the house grew popular, and, lo, around the door there was such a sight as Peter had never seen before. It was a great hospital, all down the street patients were clamouring to see the great prophet. “Almost the whole city came all around the door.” And, now, what do you say about Peter’s house? We began with calling it a humble lodging, where a fisherman lived; why, it is become a royal hospital, a palace of mercy. Here they come with every kind of complaint, lepers, and halt, and lame, and withered, and there is the loving Master, moving here and there until he has healed every one of them. The streets of Capernaum rang that night with songs of joy. There was dancing in the street of a new kind, for the lame man was leaping; and the music that accompanied the dancing was of a new kind too, for then the tongue of the dumb sang, “Glory be to God.” It was out of Peter’s house that all this mercy came.
31. Ah, brethren, oh that God would first look on a Peter, and then on Peter’s wife’s mother, or Peter’s child or relative, and then on the whole house, and then from the house cause an influence to stream forth and to be felt by all the neighbourhood. “It cannot be so with my home,” one says. Why not, dear brother? If you are constrained at all, you are not constrained in God; you are constrained in yourself. “But I live in a place,” one says, “where the ministry is lifeless.” All the more reason why you should be a blessing to the town. “Oh, but I live where many active Christians are doing a great deal of good.” All the more reason why you should be encouraged to do good too. “Oh, but ours is an aristocratic neighbourhood.” They need the gospel most of all. How few of the great and mighty are ever saved! “Oh, but ours is such a low neighbourhood.” That is just the place where the gospel is likely to meet a glad reception, for the poor have the gospel preached to them, and they will hear it. You cannot invent an excuse which will hold water for a moment: God can make your house to be the centre of blessing for all who live around it, if you are willing to have it so. But I have described the way to have it so. First, you yourself must be saved, you yourself called to the highest form of life, you yourself warmed in heart by the presence of your Master; then your family must be blest; and after that the widening circle around your home. Oh that it might be so. I know some brethren who, wherever they are, are burning and shining lights; but I know some others who are lamps, but it would be difficult to say whether they are lit or not. I think I see a flicker, but I am not sure. Brethren, aspire to be abundantly useful. Do you wish to live ignoble lives? Do you wish to be bound to the loathsome carcass of a dead Christianity? I abhor lukewarmness from my soul, let us be done with it! We have a very short time in which to bear our testimony, we shall soon be at rest; let us work while we can. The shadows are lengthening, the day is drawing to a close. Up! brethren, up! If you are to bring jewels to Jesus, if you are to crown his head with many crowns, up, I urge you, and labour for him while you can.
There are some here who are unconverted. I have not spoken to them,
but I have tried to motivate you all to speak to them. Will you do
it, or shall I keep you to hear the second half of my sermon? No, I
will trust you to deliver it, and may God bless you for Jesus’ sake.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Mr 1:14-45]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 89” 89 @@ "(Part 2)"]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Names and Titles — Light” 391]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, Names and Titles — Physician” 394]
[a] Escutcheon: The shield or shield shaped surface on which a coat of arms is depicted. OED.
[b] Hatchment: An escutcheon or ensign armorial. OED.
[c] Upas: A fabulous tree alleged to have existed in Java, at some distance from Batavia, with properties so poisonous as to destroy all animal and vegetable life to a distance of fifteen or sixteen miles around it. OED.
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 89 (Part 1)
1 My never-ceasing songs shall show
The mercies of the Lord,
And make succeeding ages know
How faithful is his word.
2 The sacred truths his lips pronounce
Shall firm as heaven endure;
And if he speak a promise once,
The eternal grace is sure.
3 How long the race of David held
The promised Jewish throne!
But there’s a nobler covenant seal’d
To David’s greater Son.
4 His seed for ever shall possess
A throne above the skies;
The meanest subject of his grace
Shall to that glory rise.
5 Lord God of hosts, thy wondrous ways
Are sung by saints above;
And saints on earth their honours raise
To thine unchanging love.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 89 (Part 2)
1 Oh greatly bless’d the people are
The joyful sound that know;
In brightness of thy face, oh Lord,
They ever on shall go.
2 They in thy name shall all the day
And in thy righteousness shall they
Exalted be on high.
3 Because the glory of their strength
Doth only stand in thee;
And in thy favour shall our horn
And power exalted be.
4 For God is our defence; and he
To us doth safety bring:
The Holy One of Israel
Is our almighty King.
Scotch Version, 1641.
Jesus Christ, Names and Titles
391 — Light <8.7.>
1 Light of those whose dreary dwelling
Borders on the shades of death,
Come, and by thyself revealing,
Dissipate the clouds beneath:
2 The new heaven and earth’s Creator,
In our deepest darkness rise,
Scattering all the night of nature,
Pouring day upon our eyes.
3 Still we wait for thy appearing;
Life and joy thy beams impart;
Chasing all our fear, and cheering
Every poor benighted heart.
4 Come, extend thy wonted favour
To our ruin’d, guilty race:
Come, thou dear exalted Saviour,
Come, apply thy saving grace.
5 Save us in thy great compassion,
Oh thou mild pacific Prince;
Give the knowledge of salvation,
Give the pardon of our sins.
6 By thine all sufficient merit
Every burden’d soul release!
By the teachings of thy Spirit
Guide us into perfect peace.
Charles Wesley, 1744, a.
Jesus Christ, Names and Titles
394 — Physician
1 Jesus, if thou art still today
As yesterday — the same;
Present to heal, in me display
The virtue of thy name.
2 Since still thou goest about to do
Thy needy creatures good;
On me, that I thy praise may show,
Be all thy wonders show’d.
3 Now, Lord, to whom for help I call,
Thy miracles repeat;
With pitying eye behold me fall
A leper at thy feet.
4 Loathsome, and foul, and self abhorr’d
I sink beneath my sin;
But if thou wilt, a gracious word
Of thine can make me clean.
5 Thou seest me deaf to thy command,
Open, oh Lord, mine ear;
Bid me stretch out my wither’d hand,
And lift it up in prayer.
6 Silent (alas! thou know’st how long),
My voice I cannot raise;
But oh, when thou shalt loose my tongue,
The dumb shall sing thy praise!
7 If thou, my God, art passing by,
Oh let me find thee near!
Jesus, in mercy hear my cry,
Thou, Son of David, hear!
8 Behold me waiting, in the way,
For thee, the heavenly light;
Command me to be brought, and say,
“Sinner, receive thy sight.”
Charles Wesley, 1740, a.