Matthew, Chapter 9, Part 2

Matthew 9:18 – While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.”

Matthew tells us only that this man was a ruler, but Mark and Luke give more information.  They tell us that he was a ruler or elder of the synagogue named Jairus.  His daughter was 12 years old and she was his only child.

Jairus falls at the feet of Jesus and intercedes for his daughter.  At this point, one cannot help but compare him to the Roman centurion we looked at in Matthew chapter 8.  The centurion also interceded for one he loved (his servant), but while Jairus’ faith required that Jesus come to his house and lay a hand on his girl, the faith of the centurion was willing to believe that Jesus could heal from a distance with just a word.

The good news is that Jesus does not refuse anyone who comes to him with sincere faith.  Even though the faith of the Jewish ruler was feeble compared to his ‘heathen’ counterpart, Jesus still honors his prayers and encourages him to expect a miracle.  This is a lesson to all of us.  Sometimes life seems overwhelming but don’t let your faith waiver!  Don’t let the enemy tell you that all is lost!  God still hears and answers prayer today!

Matthew 9:19 – And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples.

Consider this for a moment:  Jesus was actually at a banquet when the disciples of John the Baptist came to ask him a question.  While he was speaking to them, Jairus came to beg for his help.  So, Jesus immediately leaves the banquet and follows him.

Read that verse again.  Did you see any mention of grumbling or complaining?  Was there any heavy sighing or rolling of the eyes?  Did Jesus ask Jairus to wait until the cake was cut and coffee was served?  Was there any mention by Jesus that his plans had been interrupted?

From God’s point of view, a cry for help is never an interruption.  What is our point of view?  When someone needs us, are we irritated because it interferes with our plans, or do we remember that we are here on earth to be salt and light in the kingdom of Heaven?

Matthew 9:20 – And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment,

Here is another example of faith and action rising up together to claim a miracle.

This poor woman had been ill for 12 years.  Let’s stop and consider that for a moment.  What were you doing 12 years ago?  What age were your kids?  Where were you living?  What were you doing 10 years ago?  How about 5 years ago?  Take a couple of minutes and list some of the major events that have transpired in your life in the last 12 years.  Then consider that this pitiful woman was sick that entire time!

In addition, Mark’s gospel (Mark 5:25-27) tells us that the woman had suffered greatly, going from doctor to doctor, but none of them could help.  She spent all the money she had trying to find a cure.  Despite all that, she was getting worse, not better!  On top of that, she was now impoverished.  You can picture misery and depression overwhelming her. 

But, in the midst of her despair, she heard the good news of Jesus.  I don’t know who told her, but clearly the news of Jesus brought her hope.

How about those around us?  Perhaps you can restore hope to someone who is desperate for a miracle by introducing them to Jesus.  I am sure we won’t have to look too hard to find hurting people.

So, she goes out in public and she finds Jesus, who is literally being thronged by crowds of people.

Modesty prevented her from speaking of her disease in any kind of public way; certainly it could not be discussed in front of a crowd or with a man she did not know!  Thus we see her coming up behind Jesus and probably reaching through the crowd to touch the hem/fringe of his garment.

The garment in question was possibly a prayer shawl, but more likely a traditional upper garment.  It was a single piece of cloth with a hold in the center, where you put your head.  There were four corners with a tassel attached to each corner.  The tassels themselves were made in a very precise way and had specific meanings associated with them; they were a regulation from Old Testament times (see Numbers 15:37, Deut 22:12, etc).  So, the thing this woman actually touched was one of the tassels.

Matthew 9:21 – for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.”

Some scholars are of the opinion that her faith was great because she believed Jesus to have such an overflowing fullness of healing virtue, that the very touch of his garment would cure her.  Other scholars are of the opinion that her faith was small, because although she believed in the power to heal, she shrank away from Jesus, fearful that he would reject her.

Don’t tell the scholars, but you and I know exactly how much faith she had – a measure!  She took that measure of faith, combined it with the action of coming out and touching Jesus and she received her miracle!

You see, it does not matter how much faith you started out with.  The centurion, the Jewish ruler and the woman with the issue of blood all had varying levels of faith, but Jesus responded positively to each one of them.

Think about it – he didn’t stop and pull out a special thermometer to measure their faith index.  He didn’t compare the amount of faith they brought with the miracle they needed to see if they could pay the price.  Instead, he stooped down and met each one of them at whatever level of faith they were on.  He then increased their faith by answering their prayers.

Are you ready for the best part – you also have a measure of faith!

Romans 12:3 – …God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.

That’s right – you too have what it takes to approach God in faith and receive a miracle.

Let’s consider an example.  Suppose you are applying for a job that you are well qualified for, but there are 49 other applicants for this one position.  One option is to give up and not even apply.  Another option is use your faith.

Pray about the situation.  Tell God that you are going to put your best foot forward and ask him to give you favor.  Then, take a step of faith and apply!  Go to the interview in a spirit of faith and watch what God will do!

Matthew 9:22 – Jesus turned, and seeing her said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.”  And instantly the woman was made well.

Jesus silenced her fears, granted her request, commended her use of faith and sent her away in peace, all because of her faith.

Why do you think God preserved this woman’s testimony in the scriptures?  I believe it is an open invitation for us to approach him in faith just as she did.  I believe God still honors faith today.

If you take a minute to think about it, you will discover that faith is astonishing.  There is nothing else like it in the universe.  It is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.  You can never use it up; as you use it, it actually increases and multiplies.

Why not use your faith today? 

Matthew 9:23-24 – and when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.”  And they laughed at him.

After healing the woman, Jesus continues until he reaches the ruler’s house.  When they arrive, they find music and a crowd making a ‘commotion’.  While it sounds weird to us, it was perfectly normal in that culture.

When someone died, their family and friends would gather at the house and loudly howl or wail to express grief. 

They would also sing the virtues of the deceased, recount their life accomplishments and speak of their beauty.  Mournful music was used as a part of the grieving process.  Other displays of grief included tearing your garments, refusing to anoint yourself, not taking a bath, and scattering ashes in the air.  For a common person, this lasted 8 days.  If you were a king or other distinguished person, it lasted an entire month.

So, there was nothing unusual happening when Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house to find flutes playing and a crowd making a commotion.

The unusual part was when Jesus declared in front of the crowd that the girl was not dead, but sleeping.

When the crowd heard that, they mocked him, because they knew for sure that girl was dead!  So what did Jesus mean when he used the term ‘sleeping’?  ‘Sleeping’ is used many times in scripture to refer to the death of our flesh [see 2 Peter 3:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15, Acts 7:60, etc].

As you may recall, there was a subset of Jews called the Sadducees.  They did not believe in the resurrection.  They thought that once a person died, they ceased to exist.  It is likely that Jairus, his family and his friends were Sadducees.

When Jesus says the girl is ‘sleeping’, he is declaring that she has NOT ceased to exist.  He affirms that her body is dead but also teaches that her spirit was still alive and that she would one day be raised up again.

Matthew 9:25-26 – But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.  And the report of this went through all that district.

Again, Jesus was teaching that we do not cease to exist when our body dies.  Our spirits still live while the body waits for resurrection from the dead.  Now, if Jesus was going to completely tear down and destroy the belief that life ceased to exist at death, then he needed to prove that with signs and wonders.  Otherwise, who would believe him?

The only acceptable proof in this case was for the girl to be raised to life, so that is exactly what Jesus did.  Her resurrection not only demonstrated the truth of his teaching, it proved that Jesus alone had power over death.

Consequently, the crowd at Jairus’ house became a cloud of reliable, unbiased witnesses to the power of Jesus to resurrect the dead.  Nothing like this had ever happened before, and they spread the truth of this message far and wide.

So let me give you some encouragement:  Jesus can resurrect more than just dead bodies.  He can bring marriages back to life.  He can bring newness to your finances.  He can restore what addiction has taken.  He can breathe new life into your ministry.  Anything that can die, can be brought back to life by the power of Jesus!  I encourage you to seek him today for the resurrection of what you have lost.

Let me give you some relief:  There are some people who say that they are not worthy to receive a miracle from God.  How utterly ridiculous!!  If you are a child of God then you are a co-heir with Jesus and God is ready and willing to give you all you could ask or think!  So give yourself a break. Get rid of your negative ‘unworthy’ guilt feelings and start seeing yourself as God sees you – as his beloved son or daughter that he cannot wait to bless.

Let me give you some strength:  Sometimes our situations look overwhelming.  We all reach a point where we start to despair because we know we are out of options.  I am sure the woman with the issue of blood felt that way.  I know there are times when I have been in that same place. But when you are at the end of your options, that is when God can come in and begin to move the mountains.  The scripture says:

Matthew 21:21 – Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If you have faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say unto this mountain, Be removed, and be cast into the sea; it shall be done.

So don’t give up!  When you combine your faith with action and offer them up to God, he will move on your behalf!

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