Scripture: 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.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. 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, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 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. 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. Matthew 9:18-26 ESV
Observation: No sooner had Jesus addressed John’s disciples’ question about why the Twelve do not fast (speaking to the importance of embracing the New Covenant of Grace) than a ruler kneels before Jesus and pleads that Jesus heal his daughter. Along the way to the ruler’s house, Matthew tells us that a woman who suffered a discharge of blood for twelve years presses through the crowd hoping that even touching the fringe of Jesus’ garment would bring healing to her diseased body. She would not be disappointed.
Once again, Matthew abbreviates Mark’s (5:21-43) and Luke’s (8:40-56) accounts, which provide essential details about the ruler, his daughter, and the woman. We learn from Mark that the ruler is Jairus, one of the synagogue’s leaders. Also, Mark tells us the unnamed woman had exhausted all her finances to seek the help of physicians to no avail. But when she hears the reports about Jesus, she intentionally seeks him amid the crowd and finds healing as divine power passes from him to her. Then Mark tells us, Jesus questions, “Who touched my garments?” (v.30 ESV) His disciples are perplexed and respond: “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?'” (v.31 ESV) At this point, the woman, knowing she’s healed, comes forward and falls before him. Here, Matthew parallels Mark’s account of Jesus’ affirming words to the woman. But Mark then adds that some from Jairus’ house arrive and inform Jesus’ disciples that the ruler’s daughter has died. Jesus, overhearing their conversation, assures Jairus, “Do not fear, only believe.” (v.36 ESV)
Both accounts align regarding the journey to Jairus’ house and the ensuing dialogue between Jesus and the people weeping and wailing. But Matthew abruptly ends his version with Jesus taking the girl’s hand, raising her back to life, and the report of this miracle rapidly spreading. Mark, however, adds six more details:
- After taking her hand, Jesus says to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” (v.41 ESV)
- She immediately rises and walks.
- She is twelve years of age.
- The witnesses are amazed.
- Jesus strictly charges them to keep this miraculous healing to themselves.
- Jesus instructs them to give her something to eat.
Of note, Jesus implores them to maintain confidentiality so he can move more freely in completing his mission without disruption from crowds and jealous religious leaders.
Takeaway: Assuming John’s disciples followed Jesus to see what would unfold, they would witness two elements of the Kingdom of God on earth:
- God is with us (Isaiah 7:14).
- He heals our infirmities (Isaiah 53:4).
Indeed, Jesus, who is God incarnate, reverses two seemingly unchangeable elements of our fallen world: disease and death. While this is provisional, according to the Father’s purposes, it will one day be absolute when Jesus returns. But until then, as Jesus warns his disciples (John 15-16), no matter how strong our faith is, we will succumb to the fate of a sin-marred world that is rife with pain and death. So how do we rise above the inevitable? It’s a matter of perspective. Paul contends that when we suffer for the sake of his Gospel, we fellowship with Christ’s sufferings and gain his resurrection power (Philippians 3:10-11). How so? His resurrection power transforms our fear of pain and death into joy and peace through:
- his sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9) and
- the assurance of our place in the many rooms of his eternal kingdom (John 14:2).
Still, we have a part in receiving the power and grace of Christ. Just as Jesus told Jairus to resist fear and believe, we, too, are charged. Thankfully, we have the aid of the Holy Spirit, prayer, the community of believers, and the assurances of the Father and Son’s promises revealed in Scripture. And there is one more element to assuring shalom living in our fallen world: obedience. The Greek word translated as “fringe” above (kraspedon) can also mean “tassel.” The four garment tassels reminded the wearer to obey God’s commands. That the woman perhaps touched his tassels would remind her to go forth with gratitude expressed by following God’s laws.
Thus, we walk by faith in the footsteps of Christ, not out of fear but with loving hearts, thankful for our beautiful Lord and Savior who has saved us for the marvelous works he has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, our Suffering Servant, who, on the eve of his crucifixion, pressed through the agony of his anticipated separation from you through prayer and the attendance of an angel (Luke 22:39-43) to bear our sins in his body. So would you please help us to avail the divine resources he and you have provided to transform our fear of pain and death into shalom peace and joy? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling