While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, "My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live." So Jesus arose and followed him, and so did His disciples. And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of his garment. For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well." But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour. When Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, He said to them, "Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping." And they ridiculed Him. But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went out into all that land."
- Matthew 9:18-26
Yesterday we read that Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."
While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, "My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live." So Jesus arose and followed him, and so did His disciples. This man is the ruler of the synagogue; it is significant that He worshiped Christ, and also that he understood that his daughter had died. My study bible says that authority over life and death is in the hand of God alone (Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6). Being of one essence with the Father, Jesus has this authority; His is the power of life itself (John 5:21).
And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of his garment. For she said to herself, "If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well." But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour. Jesus' power to cleanse and to heal is displayed here. This is another occasion where Jesus heals and breaks boundaries against the "unclean" -- her hemorrhage would be cause for ceremonial defilement, which included imposed restrictions on religious and social contact. Contact with blood was strictly prohibited (Leviticus 15:25). But what we see is her faith -- which Jesus deliberately points out. She could not hide her touch from Him, nor is she excluded from Him because of her illness. Her faith becomes an example to the rest of the people with Him (in the other Gospel versions of this story, the detail is included that they are in the midst of a great crowd).
When Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, He said to them, "Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping." And they ridiculed Him. But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went out into all that land." This is another defiance of the mindset of "the crowd" by Jesus, and a teaching about faith. He puts the wailing, mourning crowd outside in order to effect the healing, again by touch of the little girl.
We see great faith reported throughout this story; first in the ruler, and second in the woman with the blood flow. Jesus does everything He can to shore up faith: by immediately following in the faith of the ruler to heal his daughter, by praising the woman with the blood flow, by putting those who ridicule out of the house. It's an affirmation of the power of life, a picture of Christ that teaches us something: the mourning and wailing crowd, too busy with its proclamation of death to do anything but ridicule Christ, must be put outside. It opens up a question for us to ask: what is it that we have faith in, exactly? Clearly, it is Christ's power of life that is absolutely affirmed here -- and that life is unequivocally inseparable from faith. Even the woman's blood flow is symbolic of loss of life: it is Christ's power to restore her, and His work to display her faith and proclaim that it is that faith that has made her well. At the raising of Lazarus, Jesus says to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live" (John 11:25). We have to think about what this life means, what resurrection is. What does it mean to have life more abundantly? The word in Greek for resurrection means literally to "stand again," to be once more upright, and we can think of a number of figurative ways in which Christ restores us, renews us. To have life "more abundantly" opens up many questions about just what life is and what constitutes life: He offers us more than what we expect and know. But faith is connected with this offer of life, and it is faith that both shores it up and makes the connection with His life and His power of life extended to and at work in us. Once we begin to think about it, there are any measure of things that need such life in abundance, that may benefit from the influence of faith. What ails us? Do our lives feel stuck? Is there a place where we need "restoration"? How do we need to be "upright" again and restored to our true natural places? And life more abundantly is a promise of more, things to come, things we don't yet know. This is something to think about and to pray about, as life therefore is so much more than we understand and expect. We tend to dismiss, in our "materialistic" outlook on life, that which is seemingly imperfect or "less than." But in Christ's life, everything begins with the tiniest mustard seed, power is perfected particularly in our weakness, and illness or limitation are seen as opportunity for the glory of God. We turn to the source, the One who breaks all boundaries and understanding, who rebukes those who ridicule, in order to give us an abundance of life, to continually show us what that is.