“When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was the fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, ‘He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.’
Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached him and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have their nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ Another of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.'”
HOLY COW! Peter was married! Okay, back up. Peter must have been super special for Jesus to visit his house, and since they’ve been traveling for some time it may have been out of the way. But Peter was married! Just think, when he left his entire life behind that included a wife. I mean, I kind of thought these guys had nothing to lose. But Peter must have had a lot more faith than we give him credit for, trusting God to take care of his wife and family while he was traveling with Jesus.
It was a regular party of illness at Peter’s house, and Jesus cured all of them. Matthew points to Isaiah, saying that He is fulfilling yet another prophecy. But I also notice the prophecy in verse 17 also foreshadows Jesus’s suffering on the cross, where He would literally bear our torment for us.
The second passage shows how difficult it is to follow Jesus. It may mean having no roof over your head for a long time. It may mean giving up your inheritance. (I learned once that verse 21 doesn’t mean to literally bury his father, but rather wait for his father to die so he could receive his inheritance.) It might mean leaving your family behind, even your old, sickly parents. It’s going to be HARD. But Jesus commands us to follow Him. Now.
I also notice for the first time the significance of the statement “let the dead bury their own dead.” I think by “the dead” Jesus means non-believers, those who don’t have eternal life in Heaven. So this passage could be read to say: “Come live the the believers and leave your non-believing family behind.” The church is our new family, and while we should still love our blood families, we can not let them keep us from following Jesus.