Well, shut my mouth and call me a hymnal. Your old uncle and I actually made it to the Holy Land. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would actually step on some of the same stones where Jesus walked. But today I know I did. We visited Nazareth and we went to the only spring in town, so Jesus must have visited that place many times when he was growin’ up there. ’Course, they messed up the view by buildin’ a cluttered-up lookin’ church over the top of it, but still, Jesus actually walked on the very spot where I was standin’. I just can’t tell you what that meant to me. I wanted to just fall down on my old knees and worship.
Speakin’ of old knees, Uncle Orley and I are havin’ a hard time keepin’ up with the younger folks on the tour, but they are bein’ patient and we’re a-hurryin’ so we’re makin’ it just fine. You may remember that your uncle has always been one to move kinda slow like. One year for Christmas I got him one of those self-windin’ watches but I had to take it back ‘cause he didn’t move enough to keep the thing a-runnin’. But, he’s movin’ real quick here ‘cause he wants to see everything all at once.
A couple days ago we went to a place by the Sea of Galilee that I’d heard about ever since my Granny started takin’ me to Sunday school. It’s called Capernaum. Why, most of Jesus’ teachin’ and miracles happened right around there. Our guide was tellin’ us so much that I just couldn’t get it all. So much was a-comin’ at me so fast that I felt like I was tryin’ to take a drink out of a fire hydrant. I can’t remember everything we saw, but the thing that snagged my attention was Peter’s house. Naturally, they’ve built a church over it, too, but this time they at least built the church off the ground and you can see some rock walls under it. They say Peter lived there because they figure people would have gathered at his house and a church would have started there and here is where there was an ancient church accordin’ to those diggin’ professors.
Well, standin’ there lookin’ at that house made me think of the folks who lived there and I could just see them hurrin’ about their business. I started to think about the time Peter’s mother-in-law got sick. Now, you know I never went to seminary, but I’ve been teachin’ Sunday school lessens for nigh on 60 years and in that length of time a person’s bound to learn somethin’ worth rememberin’. And I remembered that Peter was from a town called Bethsaida. But his house is in Capernaum, so I’m wonderin’ if instead of the wife movin’ in with his folks that maybe Peter moved in with hers.
My mind commenced to imaginin’ what might’ve happened there. If she was a typical Jewish mother, I’m guessin’ she musta picked out a nice boy from Capernaum for her little girl. But no, her girl had her sights set on this big, burly, loud-mouthed know-it-all from another town. This was the man her daughter wanted to marry. Well, the girl just kept wearin’ her ol’ Mama down till she finally just gave in and said the girl could get married to this ol’ boy whose name was Simon.
Now, as I see it, to the mama’s way of thinkin’, about the only thing Simon had goin’ for him was that his daddy had a fishin’ business. But even that was a mixed blessin’. Let’s just say that few people have ever confused the smell of fish with Channel No. 5. Simon was operatin’ the Capernaum branch of the family business, and if he would only pay attention to her, he might actually amount to somethin’.
Well, about that time Simon met up with this feller from Nazareth named Jesus who had taken up preachin’ and got run out of his home town. Why, before she could say, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Simon up and quit his job and started follerin’ Jesus around. Oh, Jesus was a good preacher, she had to give him that.
Folks came from miles around just to hear him talk about God. She had even heard folks sayin’ that he had perfomed miracles, but I suspect she might not have been receptive to the idea, havin’ kind of a negative opinion ‘cause of the way her son-in-law was disappointin’ her. I guess some folks have a way of rejectin’ Jesus for a whole lot of reasons that don’t have anything to do with him.
And where do you suppose Jesus stayed when he was in Capernaum? Well, he didn’t have a house of his own and he didn’t have relatives there, so I have an idea that Simon said, “Why, you can stay at my house. Come on over.”
Don’t you know that would just about frost a mother-in-law? I can hear her now. “It ain’t enough that you went and quit your job to follow this guy, but now you brought him to stay at my house.” I reckon she emphasized the “my house” when she said it.
It must have been about that time that she took sick. She got so sick that she was afraid she would die and then got sicker and was afraid she wouldn’t. Jesus came in to see her a-lyin’ there in bed and took her hand and no doubt prayed for her and quick as flash her fever left her and she was as well as she had ever felt in her whole life.
And she commenced to servin’ Jesus and the others. Now, in all my years of Sunday school teachin’ I could never figure out why the Bible makes a special point to say that she served them. I figured, “What’s the big deal about that. Wouldn’t she have been servin’ them all along?” But I suddenly saw it from a different angle standing there at Peter’s house. I figure now that if she served him at all she was a mite shy on enthusiasm. But after he healed her, she must have served him out of gratitude and wonder.
I figure in the space of about 30 seconds she became a true believer. ’Course, about that quick I guess her son-in-law got real smart, too. Don’t you know she had a heap of thinkin’ to do?
While I was standin’ there lookin’ at what’s left of Peter’s house, I could just see those folks goin’ about their business frettin’ about gettin’ their chores done while all the time rubbin’ shoulders and elbows with the Son of God.
Kinda makes you wonder how many times we miss seein’ him when he’s been right there beside us all the time, doesn’t it?
Tomorrow we go to Jerusalem. I just can’t believe we’re here. I’ll tell you all about it when we get home.
Love, Aunt Ida
Jim White is editor of the Virginia Religious Herald.