Matthew 9:18-26 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman
18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.
20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.
Tonight’s passage is a beautiful display of the breadth and beauty of the Christian message; of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, I want to share that our understanding of the hope of life directly impacts our experience of it.
You see this most clearly with millennials and social media related depression. The theory goes that people are depressed are anxious because of their hope, this generation is primed to live at a lower standard than the previous for the first time in over 100 years. Now added to this we have constant access to people’s highlights, so we see how our friends have just bought this new thing, they are going out for nice suppers, they are doing exciting things. All this is contrasted with our life and we end up feeling disillusioned and depressed.
Our hope is to have as nice a life as the people around us but we don’t, so, we feel a nagging disconnect. Now, what we don’t see is that what we are seeing is completely fake, it is not people’s lives that we are seeing it is their highlights, their boasting; their look at how great I have it. Our hope is in an unrealistic world, and because we can never get that we have a crushing hope – and depression and anxiety follow.
Now, Christ today shows us the wonder and beauty of the Christian hope. Firstly we will see that it is truly egalitarian; it is offered to all, and secondly it is a real hope, a life that will bring real joy.
So, let’s dive in;
1. The contrast of Desperation
So, Matthew shows us two fundamentally different people a synagogue leader; who we find out is named Jairus in the gospel of Mark and Luke. This is a wealthy, well respected, well honoured man, and a poor, ostracised, unclean woman.
Both have a desperation that drives them to Jesus. One is the death of a daughter, which I could not perceive a greater pain for someone to go through. Parents losing their children must be one of the most devastating and desperate things one could go through in this life. But Matthew paints for us the fact that all the wealth, all the human respect, all the religious activity in the world doesn’t help you escape the tragedy of life.
Church life is hard, it is painful, it is chaos. No wealth, so security, no amount of religious activity will protect you from that.
In contrast to that is this poor woman who has been bleeding for 12 years. In Mark we get greater detail of the suffering of this woman, for 12 years she has suffered, and for 12 years she has spent everything she has on getting better, however no doctor could help her, in fact they had made thing worse. A chronic medical problem church is draining, and disheartening like you cannot understand!
The problem with this kind of suffering is that it is gradual, your hope is stripped from you at every failed treatment and every year that it continues it is a slow stripping of life and hope. Now you must understand that constant medical intervention; no matter what century you live in is debilitating. Added to this the nature of her sickness would have made her weaker and more chronic year by year. Effectively it is 12 years slow dying.
You couldn’t have two greater contrasts, a wealthy, connected and respected man with a lowly, ostracised disrespected woman. Yet both of them in their desperation come to Christ as their only hope.Here is the first thing we learn from this passage, our status whether high or low, or our situation no matter how desperate is never a disqualifier for coming to Jesus
Essentially, the call is come as you are, in faith; that is the common factor for both of these people.
Now when these two people respond in faith to Christ we see the same result and this will be the bulk of what we look at tonight; my second point is the
2. The death of two daughters
The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke link these two miracles because God in His providence links these two miracles in the life of Christ; the interesting thing in these two stories is the powerful interplay between the daughter of Jairus (the leader of the synagogue) and the woman who had bleeding for 12 years.
From Mark’s gospel we find out that the little girl who had died was 12 years old, and the woman had been bleeding for 12 years. There is a connection between these two people, a divinely appointed connection.
Jesus when He heals the woman of her bleeding he says in Matthew 9:22
““Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.”
He calls her daughter, intentionally linking the death of the young girl and the dying of this woman.
Because the message that is being put on full display here is the hope of coming to life, the resurrection power of Christ.They are dead, both in terms of the woman who was as good as dead and the girl who was physically dead were both brought to life by the power of Christ through faith.
In fact what Jesus says to the lady with the bleeding problem is my daughter your faith has σώζω “Sozo” (in the Greek) you; it has saved you! We are not meant to miss that her physically healing is a spiritual healing and the spiritual healing is a coming to new life. This is intentionally connected to the little girl who was physically dead and Jesus takes her by the hand and she raises to life.
Now we see this when we look at the passage with the Law in mind. In the Law anything dead or related to death had a defiling reality. If you touched anything dead you yourself became unclean, unable to come into the holiness of God.
The idea in the law is that sin and death are defiling realities, they spread like disease. And on a practical level this is so true, evil and sin spread causing the breakdown of communities of people of life itself, spreading death and decay everywhere it goes.
It is not life and goodness that naturally propagates itself through this world but death and decay. A great example is our current situation we find ourselves in politically as a country. It was easy for corruption and by it chaos and death to spread throughout society by just a few rotten apples. In fact a few rotten apples created an entire culture of corruption and by it hatred, decay, and death.
This is the nature of the world. But Jesus comes into this world of death, to these two daughters inflicted by death, and in both cases touches them. In the woman’s case she touches the hem of his garment, with the daughter he takes her by the hand. In both of these cases according to the law and according to the principles at play in the world today; uncleanliness or death should have been transferred to him. But rather we see His life transferred to both of these people.
Jesus’ life was transferred to these two afflicted by death!
Now, the principle at play needs to be explored, because without it this is simply a magic show. However, when we start to see the reality of what is going on here, not only will we see the wonder of this miracle but we will see the hope of it for us today.
You see death and disease, church, are not the way God intended this world to be. They are a consequence of sin. Man lived in Eden without fear of death or sickness, we lived in the life of God and were eternally sustained by it. It was a good world filled with good things.
In fact it’s echo (or shadow) is what drives many of our dreams and hopes today; perfection, love without end, perfect peace and security, the tranquillity of nature (is a memory of when we lived in harmony with nature). But in this good world, God made creatures that had a choice, live in obedience to God and stay in the garden, stay at peace, or define your own way, chose your own path; step outside of God and reap what exists outside of him, death and chaos!
Man chose death. Now, we live in a world so saturated with death and chaos we are convinced that this is how it should be, but our dreams and our hopes betray us; we long for better, we long for more.
The crisis of our longing is that all of us have chosen to go our own way, we do not want God, we constantly choose our ways over his, and we all sin; therefore our only reward is what we have sowed, we have sowed a life lived outside of God we deserve the death that is there.
So, how did life come to these two daughters? Well, the passage states it is their faith. But faith in what; in the salvation of God in Jesus. The reason that life could flow into these daughters is because Jesus would take their death upon himself. He would endure their death so that the life of God that he deserved could be their reward.
Now, church through the preaching of the gospel around the world, that life, that undeserved reward has come to us. We have, in Christ, passed already from death to life! We have because of the Spirit of God in us have the eternal life of God in our being.
So, what does this mean for us today, or this week as we go out again into a world tainted by death?
We who believe have passed from death to life
The life of the Christian is a life of ever increasing life within; as Paul puts in Romans 8:11-12;
“And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who dwells within you. 12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation, but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.”
As we dwell in faith in Christ, as we delight in the cross of Christ so we will find new desires, desire to obey God and not sin, new power for the things of God. We will find sin has less and less a hold of us, and through that we will discover more and more the wonder of life that God has made.
We have the hope to endure
The things of this world church no longer own us as we are no longer in partnership with them. Everything in this world is still stuck in the system of dying and decay, you have now come into the kingdom of life!
When the bible says in James, don’t you know friendship with the world is enmity with God, it is declaring this reality; everything that we put hope in this life is dying, so don’t put your hope in the life of God and his reward. There your life and hope is.
When things fall apart, recognise that is the nature of the system of decay, when life doesn’t work out, recognise that is this system working itself out. You are not a part of it anymore you are made for the coming kingdom of Glory, where all your hope will be fully satisfied.
So, church, let your faith make you well. Believe not in yourself, but in Him who is life, who is hope! Believe in the work of Christ on the Cross.