Matthew 9:18-26

The first thing I want you to note this morning, as I always do, is the history – the sequence of events.  These things really happened, and there’s no true understanding of them unless they are seen in their true context.  You might say that the history is one of the hinges upon which swings the door to understanding.

Jesus is being manifested to the world by His Father.  And in that manifestation of the Son of God, all of history is focused as a magnifier focuses sunlight on a little spot.

And Matthew has managed, by the inspiration of the Spirit, to draw our attention to the cosmic significance of each happening as it occurs in history and in sequence.  He hinges it in reality for us – letting us realize its irrefutable historicity – and yet he lets us know that there is so much more happening here than surface circumstance.

On this particular day Jesus has returned to Capernaum from Gadara across the lake, and He went to His Own house.  As you remember, there was a crowd there and He healed the sick – including the paralytic.  Then Jesus called Matthew to be a disciple and feasted at his house in a figurative wedding feast.  After that He spoke to the Pharisees about eating with Gentiles and tax collectors – of course, setting them apart from those who were invited to the wedding feast – and then to John’s disciples when they asked about fasting, and said that the groomsmen don’t fast.

He’s now by the sea again, according to Mark.  And as He was speaking to John’s disciples about the bridegroom and His attendants, a certain ruler – magistrate – appeared.  Jairus.  Verse eighteen:  “When He was speaking those things to them, lo, a certain magistrate came and fell down to worship Him saying ‘my daughter has just died; but come place your hand upon her and she shall live.’”

Matthew is again letting us know by using the little word “lo” that this is an event of cosmic significance in the course of things.  And occurrence of such great import that: 

1) the very character and nature of the Son of God is revealed unto men,

2) the reality of His Kingdom is being manifested before men,

3) the word of the prophets is being fulfilled,

4) Heaven and earth is being shaken and destroyed,

5) the new Heavens and the new Earth are being established,

6) the adopted son is being disinherited,

7) the harlot of the world is being divorced,

8) the vineyard is being cut off at the stalk, and

9) kings and rulers of many nations are bowing down to worship Him!

And that’s exactly what happens here, isn’t it?  A magistrate, a ruler, prostrates himself before the King of Kings.  That’s about the extent of what we know of Jairus.  He had a daughter who died; he was rich enough to hire a whole bunch of mourners – which we’ll see in a few minutes – he is called Arkon here.  You remember that chief tax collector was called Arketelones – the head guy.  This is the same root – Arkon.  The head person.  The magistrate.  Maybe like a mayor.  Or a governor of a particular region.  He could have been a Jewish appointee, but, more than likely, he was a friend of Herod Antipas, the Edomite who had been given the northern third of Israel – or a political crony, or maybe even another Edomite.  Or it could have even been a Roman appointment – there’s no way of knowing.  There’s not enough information in the text to even get close to the facts about him.  He was a magistrate of some kind, and he lived in or around Capernaum.

But, as is the normal thing to do in oriental countries then when you address royalty, he got down on the ground in a prostrate position to pay the honor and respect which is due to One of very high rank.

And not only are we about to witness a resurrection from the dead, which seems to be enough for Matthew to include this in the series of great events, but the Old Testament prophets have all prophesied that kings and rulers of the nations would bow down before Him!  And therein lies the truly great significance of this passage – part of it now.  There’s more later.

Now, again – this is not the leadership of Israel.  And this isn’t the Sanhedrin or the Pharisees or the Sadducees or the Scribes.  This isn’t the ruling class or the influential policy-makers.  This isn’t even the representatives of the city of Capernaum – which itself will later be cursed by Jesus.  This is a representative of rulers.  It is figurative of the heads of nations, and their representatives.  Jairus is the first magistrate to bow down before Him and worship Him – as was prophesied.  (Psalm seventy-two, verse eleven:  “Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him!”

And what he asked Jesus to do was also significant, because He asked for resurrection from the dead!  He said, “My daughter has just died; but come place your hand upon her and she shall live.”

Now, Mark writes, “…She is at her last.”  And Luke says, “… She was at the point of dying.”  But Matthew says arti eteleutesen – “She just died!”  And, of course, that whole question of Biblical integrity comes up again, and it just serves to show how futile it is to question the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  And I just warn you once again that those who skillfully probe the Scriptures in order to presuppositionally uncover the errors there are hanging over the throat of hell by a thread!

            The position of a faithful follower of the King and His Words is to doubt our understanding (information) when we see what looks to be a contradiction or a dilemma.

And here – all it takes is a quick look at all the facts as they appear together in the three Gospels.  Matthew omits it, but while Jairus was prostrate on the ground before Jesus, making his petition to Jesus to save his daughter who was near death, Luke says that some men – messengers – brought Jairus the bad news about his daughter’s death!  And, as I said, Matthew omits all of that.  And he records what Jairus finally said, which was that his daughter had just died.

And what an emotional scene it must have been then – to be making petition before the King of Kings and hear that your daughter has just died.  And then the petition changes from healing to resurrection!  And the One Who says that He is the Resurrection and the Life is manifested to the world as just that.

But, as I said, Matthew omits all of the details of the conversation and moves directly to the end result – that the girl had died – in order to focus the attention on the greater significance of the occurrence.  He doesn’t want those things which might be seen as peripheral to in any way obscure the main focus of his Gospel rendition – which is here to make known the King of Kings being worshipped by a ruler, and that the daughters of the magistrate are made alive by Him.  He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the wildernesses are given life by the Power of His Word.  Kings and magistrates and nations are about to begin streaming into the New Heavens and the New Earth – all being made alive by God’s Anointed Son, The Mighty King.

“Come put Your hand on her, and she shall live,” Jairus says.  Apparently he had heard about Jesus placing His hands on people to heal them.  And there are those who would denigrate Jairus’ faith because it wasn’t as strong as the centurion’s, who asked Jesus to just say a word – He didn’t have to come to the house, because the house wasn’t good enough for Jesus!  And they say that just because Jairus was a magistrate, and probably rich, that he thought his house was good enough for Jesus to come, so he begged for the touching.

But, as you will see in a few minutes, that kind of explanation has nothing to do with the text, for Jesus’ going to Jairus house was necessary.  For, “lo,” Matthew has something else of ultimate significance for us to see!  (in a minute) 

But first, something happens on the way, doesn’t it?  Jesus and several of His disciples are following Jairus – probably at a rapid pace.  At least as fast as they could, considering the crowd that was with them!

 And Matthew says, “lo, a woman having a flow of blood for twelve years, having come up from behind, touched the tassels of His garment; she was saying to herself, ‘if only I could touch His garment I shall be saved (restored).’”

Now, here is a woman – again we don’t know very much about her, but she has certainly been interviewed by Matthew, since he knows what she was thinking as she came up behind Jesus – but we know that she has what we might euphemistically call “a female problem.”  She’s been menstruating for twelve years!

Now, in addition to the illness, the weakness, the iron-deficiency, and the mal-nutrition in general – all which are the center of concentration usually – in addition to those obvious things, this woman is ceremonially unclean and generally separated from society!  These of course are the laws of separation and pre-figure the separation from uncleanness and iniquity which will be required in the coming Kingdom.  But she was effectively separated from society!

Everything she sat on and everything she laid down on was ceremonially unclean; all of her clothes were unclean; she could not receive affection, because no one was to touch her; she could not offer sacrifice for she was still in a state of impurity – and on – and on!

Now, I’m not going to deal with the laws of separation – you already have some notions of them and what they were for.  And in addition to the pre-figuring of that separation from the world order we as Christians are to observe, these laws did provide some very satisfactory bases for sanitation and civility.  But you must realize that sanitation was not the primary focus for ceremonial cleanness.  What was primary was the coming spilling of the blood of the Real Sacrifice – and the subsequent requirements for a holy life!

But this woman, who wasn’t supposed to even approach a man in public, and who was unclean and separated from public life, and who had a female problem – one which certainly was not discussed with a man in public! – and who was so ashamed of it all that she couldn’t bear to face Jesus from the front, is bold enough to force her way through the people who are with Jesus – all hurrying behind Jairus, whose daughter had just died – and run up and touch a tassel!

All true Jews wore this outer garment, described back in Deuteronomy twelve, which had tassels on the corners.  This is the one which is later described in the Gospel when the Pharisees are condemned for wearing these huge tassels on their “Shimlah” (that was the name of the garment).  Of course, what they were doing was displaying their compliance with the Law for everyone to see.  Hypocrites!

But this woman touches the tassel, knowing the power of the Savior, and hoping no one sees her or notices her – she wants to be rid of her shameful condition – that is to be saved – and then get away before anyone notices!  She doesn’t want to have to explain what she’s doing, because it would be a very embarrassing conversation!

But no!  Jesus turns and looks right at her; and the embarrassment must have been overwhelming!  But He doesn’t ask her to explain.  He already knows.  She doesn’t have to go through telling Him about it.

And He says to her:  “Tharsei, daughter!”  Be courageous.  The word has a root which means “to trust”; so “hold on” and “be bold” and “have courage” – this is a summons from the King a number of times during His early ministry.  Here it is an imperative command!  Hold on!  And right after that He says, “Your faith has saved you.”

Now you’ll notice from the text that the woman thought that she would be saved if she touched His garment.  And here Jesus says, “Your faith has saved you.”  And then Matthew says, “…and the woman was saved from that hour!”

I want you to see that the word Sodzo – to save – is a very comprehensive term.  It not only applied to the woman’s physical problems, but it also applied to the uncleanness and separation from the community ceremonially.  And it also has implications for her eternally!

If it had applied only to her hemorrhaging problem, then Matthew would have used another word – perhaps healed, or restored, or even “made whole.”  But he didn’t.  He used a word which is usually translated “save.”  And, of course, we as reformed Christians all know that salvation is a continual setting apart from uncleanness, a casting away of guilt, a restoration to the covenant community, and even implications for the body as a whole – especially the resurrected body which will be perfected in the Spirit of Christ.  Saved!

So what we have here in this confrontation with the lady with the constant menstrual period is the Savior of the World – the Son of Man – whose Own blood was spilled out in order that this woman might be saved – in all aspects of that terminology!

And this woman represents all those who are separated out due to uncleanness – that is, the unclean, Gentile nations – and whose uncleanness is so vile that the blood of the God-Man had to be spilled in order for it to be cleaned.  Our Lord’s love for her as she is humiliated before Him is so very evident, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that it was this woman’s lot in life to suffer for the sake of the Gospel – and to be saved (much like the leper).  What she needed was the Savior to make Himself known to her – and to give her this courage, this boldness to hold on to the faith as she received it.  And, having received it, she observed her own lowly condition – that of uncleanness – and approached Him from the back, just hoping to touch Him.  Some contact with Jesus was the answer to her problem.

I don’t think, as some have suggested, that there was superstition in the touching of the tassels.  And there was no magnetism or electric current, or mystical spiritual force.  Martin Luther said it right when he said that – in Jesus resides Divine omnipotent Power, and that He can answer the secret, unspoken trust of her heart – a trust given to her as a gift.  And then what she needed was the manifestation of the Word of God – the Son of God Himself.  The Word made flesh.

And, then, in verse twenty three, Jesus is at once at Jairus’ house.  And, going in, the first thing He sees is the hired mourners weeping and screaming and agitating a crowd which had already gathered to lament.  The pipers were playing and women hired to beat their breasts and cry out and swing their hair and provide the proper atmosphere for a lament.  But Jesus commands them to draw back.  And the reason He gives them to draw back is that the girl isn’t dead, but fast asleep!  Now that isn’t a comment on her physical condition.  It’s a reason, first for the commotion to stop, because the girl is going to be alive soon; and, second, it’s a reason for them to begin to laugh and mock at Jesus, Who is the Power over life and death.

So, in order to understand the statement about her only being asleep, you have to see that Jesus was speaking directly to these hired mourners, and He said something like “Go away, she’s only asleep.”

And He takes His disciples (at least Peter, James and John – maybe Matthew) into the room with the dead girl, reaches out and grasps her hand and raises her up.  Luke says, “Her spirit did return.”  Matthew gives very little detail because he wants us to see the central issue of the Kingdom here!

And that is the prophecy that’s found in Jeremiah chapter nine.  We don’t have time to read it now, but it is the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel.  And in that prophecy is a great deal of detail about the mourning women crying and screaming and beating their breast over the death and the finality of the cutting off of Israel!

And Israel is dead.  But the people of God are not; and the Church is not; and the Kingdom is not; and the covenant is not.  They only look like they’re dead.  Later Jesus says, “I will raise this temple up again in three days.”  Israel isn’t dead.  The old covenant people are.  But there is a new Israel.  There are one hundred forty-four thousand in Israel itself – and then all those Gentile nations out there, with the millions of God’s elect!

No, mourning women!  Draw back!  She is not dead.  (This is a theological statement of cosmos proportions!)  She is only fast asleep!  But I will raise her up.  I will raise her up in three days in the Power of My resurrection!  And Jesus was, indeed, raised the Son of God with Power, according to Paul in Romans chapter one.  And Israel, which looked as if it were dead – with all the pipers and mourning women around her – was not dead, but Jesus grasped us by the hand when we were dead in our sins, and raised us up in the Power of His resurrection!  And we are raised the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Draw back! – you mourners.  The King of Glory has come in.  Israel is not dead, we are alive – and vital in the resurrected Savior.  And we anticipate the continued conquering of the nations, for He was not crucified, buried and resurrected to failure – but so that all the world might be saved.

And the report of this went out into the whole region, as it must from us!

That rulers and magistrates fall down before Jesus the King and that Israel’s mourners have been sent away – they aren’t needed!  That the daughters of rulers and cities are made alive – having been cleansed from their vile uncleanness!