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)
There are so many facets to this narrative it is hard to handle in one post. At the same time the resurrection of the dead girl cannot be separated from the healing of the woman who touched His garment considering the touching of the garment is a narrative within the narrative. Let’s take the two miracles together; the resurrection miracle was precipitated by a ruler addressing Christ face to face. The curing of the hemorrhage was precipitate by a woman secretly touching the garment of Christ. The resurrection miracle was a miracle requested on behalf of a daughter, the hemorrhage miracle was requested by the one being healed. These two miracles are very different in many ways, and yet they exist right here within each other, and in the divine plan of God we presume it is this way for a reason.
People’s propensity towards Pharisaic thinking was known by God. God is immutable, and yet humanity at large, as well as on a personal level are constantly in a state of flux. Our tendency is to swing from complete and utter immorality as an unbeliever into a gracious appreciation for Christ as a new believer, and then often we swing past gracious appreciation in order to create rules and regulations to impose upon people beyond what the bible imposes. What does this have to do with this text? Everything! Had Christ performed these miracles in separate contexts one could be led to believe that it is either the faith of someone else that must heal you, or that it is the faith of yourself that brings you healing. Had Christ performed these miracles in separate contexts someone could assert that Christ has a preference towards rulers and people who can stand face to face with Him, or on the flip side that He only regards the poor who are afraid to be seen by Him. Throughout the scriptures we find instances like these where the Lord is working in two or more very different ways simultaneously with two different types of people. Certainly I do not want to get all post-modern here and say there are not absolutes regarding how God acts, God forbid that I would give that idea. However, texts like this remind us that it is He who defines those absolutes in His word, not us. Many in the emergent movement would (though not vocally) have preferred that Christ would not have responded to the ruler’s faith but only responded to woman, this could justify their ‘social justice is everything’ mentality. On the flip side many fundamentalists struggle with the idea of this woman being made whole coming in through the back door and then facing Jesus. (See Luke 8:44-48 for a more in depth narrative.) The beauty of this passage is that the one healing is encapsulated in the other making them forever inseparable even though they are very much different from each other.
Of course there are many other important truths that can be gleaned from this passage. For instance, Christ is about bigger things than healing a hemorrhage that could obviously be lived with right? I mean it is more important to raise the dead? No, not at all, Jesus stops for the ‘lesser’ healing. Personal application here is pretty obvious, just because God is about dealing with bigger things in this world than your life, does not mean He is not about dealing with your life. Or what about the laughter of the people in the midst of the death of this girl, and their utter brazenness and lack of compassion, and yet the desperation that led the ruler to believe on Christ for the miracle. Of course what about how foolish they must have felt when she walked in on her own funeral... alive. There is a lot of good stuff here, but I will stop right here and move on to the next passage in the next post.
It has been difficult posting lately. I hope to ramp it back up a bit, as I have found that writing through this gospel has been a great help to me, cannot promise to be daily though.