Women of the Old Testament – like *Sarah or Abigail, Esther or Hagar –are familiar enough through their stories that we probably have a sense of what they’d be like if we could sit down and talk over coffee. Some are testy (Sarah), others astoundingly courageous (Esther); some were put in life-threatening circumstances they brilliantly managed to reverse (Abigail). Others are shining examples of God’s mothering love that saved both themselves and their child (Hagar).
But what about all those women who weren’t fortunate enough to have their names seep into the written record? You might be just as familiar with the stories of some of the unnamed women in the Bible – the mothers and daughters, sisters and wives, and of course the widows – but we know them mainly in relation to male relatives. The ‘daughters’ link ranges from a King’s daughter (Pharaoh’s girl) to that of a Priest (of Midian, who became Moses’ father in law), or the less-than-role-model type of Lot’s daughters, guilty of incest.
Peter’s mother in law is one of my favorites. There she is, living in Peter’s home, mother of his wife and grandmother to his children, 100% dependent on this son-in-law’s financial generosity and prowess– as so many widows were in Biblical times. It’s not a stretch to wonder if she was frightened of his sudden abandonment of the perfectly good breadwinning life of a fisherman, to suddenly following Jesus who was the proclaimed ‘Messiah’.
Her story is told in Matthew, Mark and Luke, always in just two verses:
14 When Jesus arrived at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. 15 But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her. Then she got up and prepared a meal for him.
While we never hear about her again, one wonders if that single brush with Christ Jesus not only healed her fever but also healed her fear about the supply the family would have over the coming decades. Peter preached for 30 more years, sometimes traveling outside of Israel. Perhaps it’s not too big of a stretch to think that mother-in-law even quieted her own daughter’s fears for the family as she supported the Christian gospel’s forward march.
Have you seen the relationship between the elimination of fear and an increased sense of abundance? Please share your experiences here, or please share any insights you’ve had about Peter’s mother-in-law or any of the women unnamed that you’ve found helpful to your own life journey. We would love these blogs to be a two-way conversation!
* For the stories of these women in the bible, see: