Hannah: The Mother-In-Law

My name is Hannah. I have a large house in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. Not long after my husband died, I invited my daughter Judith and her husband Simon to come live with me. I knew my grandchildren would like the move because they have always loved to visit, especially when I make their favorite sweet bread.

Judith and Simon own a small house in Bethsaida, five miles east of Capernaum. With three children and a fourth on the way, things are getting crowded for them. I knew that Simon was close to his father Jonah and his brother Andrew for they had worked together as fishermen since Simon was a boy, so I wasn't sure how he would feel about moving. But to my surprise, he thought a move to Capernaum would be a good thing since Andrew and he had been spending more and more time traveling with Jesus, and Judith was expecting soon.

So the decision to move was made, and it wasn't long until everyone had settled in. What a joy for me to have Judith, Simon, and the children filling up my big house. An added joy was having Andrew so close by as well. He decided to build a small house next to mine so he could be near the children and could easily pick up and travel with Simon whenever Jesus asked them to go.

The children all love having Andrew next door. They crowd into his house whenever he is home to listen to him read them stories about the heroes of the Bible. My grandson likes the stories about David while the girls' favorite is Ruth's marriage to Boaz. I think the children love their uncle so much because they can tell that he genuinely loves them.

Well, things were going along smoothly until one Sabbath morning when I woke up with a fever. I don't remember being sick a day in my life, so you can imagine my concern when I found myself so weak that I didn't even have enough strength to get out of bed.

Simon had gone to the synagogue to hear Jesus expound on the Scriptures, so Judith sent the two eldest children to the well for cool water to dip cloths into to lay across my forehead. I'm not quite sure how much time had passed when I was startled from my rest by Simon's booming voice. He was carrying on about something Jesus had mentioned in His reading when I heard him inviting Jesus, James, John and Andrew to come in for dinner.

Sometimes I think Simon's mouth gets ahead of his brain. What in the world was he thinking? Here I am lying in bed with a fever, and he is out there inviting guests in for dinner. Who does he think is going to feed them? I certainly don't feel up to it. Then before I knew it, I heard the grandchildren saying, "Grandmother is sick in bed, and mother is putting cool cloths on her forehead to make her feel better." Now I was really embarrassed. Not only do I have guests in my house without my knowing they were coming, but now they also know that I'm sick.

Then Simon, whom Jesus calls Peter, came blundering into my room apologizing for inviting guests while I was feeling so bad. His winsome way made it hard for me to hold a grudge against him. I smiled weakly, then he asked if it would be all right if Judith fixed dinner. Of course, I nodded my head "yes" and tried not to let it bother me. When he turned in the doorway to go back down the hall, he almost ran right into Jesus who had been waiting just outside my doorway the whole time. Peter excused himself and went on his way. Then Jesus poked His head around the door frame and asked, "Hannah, may I come in?"

"Oh, yes. I'm so sorry I'm sick, for I know you must be hungry."

Jesus smiled then took my hand and helped me to sit up. At first, I felt a little flushed, but soon the heat which had been radiating off of my body seemed to disappear. When I mentioned to Judith that I felt like the fever had broken, she placed the back of her hand on my forehead. Her relieved expression told me the fever was gone. Much to my delight I was able to get out of bed and pull the curtain back to let the sunshine in.

"Let's see, Judith, what do we have in the pantry that we can fix quickly to feed these men?"

With a twinkle in her eye, Judith grinned at me as she said, "Mother, did you remember to say, 'Thank you?'"

I smiled back, then turned to Jesus and said, "Thank you, Jesus, for healing me."

Jesus acknowledged my appreciation with His warm smile before turning to join the rest of the men in the living room. Judith and I chuckled a little to ourselves then left for the kitchen to fix the hungry men some lunch.

Based on Mark 1:29-34; Luke 4:38-41; Matthew 8:14-15.

Copyright 1997 by John C. Westervelt

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