Summary: How many times do we go through our lives thinking we have it all together, only to encounter a crisis that blows us away? Life is a lot more tenuous that we like to think. But into that crisis comes One who says "do not fear, only believe." Are you willi
Think for a moment about a time of crisis on your life—a time when something significant went wrong and you really didn’t know how you were going to come out of it whole. It might be violence, sickness, accident, financial burden, relationship gone very bad—something that tore a hole in your stomach and ripped sleep from your eyes. That’s the kind of situation people find themselves in here in chapter 9, and it gives Jesus an opportunity to call attention to the plight of mankind in general but also His desire to move deeply in the lives of those who shouldn’t have reached out to Him.
Matthew has been pointing out Jesus as Messiah and King. He showed us Jesus’ authority over creation and sickness. Last time we saw His authority over even the forgiveness of sin. Now Matthew takes it up yet another notch as we see Jesus’ authority over the biggest enemy of all: death.
18 – 26
Mark and Luke identify the man as Jairus, a synagogue ruler. (Mark 5:22, Luke 8:41). The synagogue ruler was a very important person in the community. They were a lay person, elected to run the synagogue including the school, arranging for rabbis to teach, finances, and keeping the congregation faithful to the law. They were extremely influential and here Jairus bows before Jesus, showing him deference and homage.
This is a shortened account. In other gospels we learn that his 12 year old only child was dying. As Jesus is on His way the man’s servants come and tell him “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the teacher anymore.” Jesus turns to him and says “Do not fear, only believe.” Here is a man who though he of great authority, in a time of deep crisis. In a time past hope he goes to anyone who can actually help.
In the midst of this is the woman who had suffered from a bleeding disorder touches Him. Luke tells us that she had spent all of her money with no cure. If it had been anyone else, touching would have made the man unclean (Lev 15:25-33). But when Jesus touches the unclean, they becomes clean (as he did with the leper).
She may have feared that if Jesus had known she was unclean He wouldn’t have touched her. Do we fear the same thing? There was a belief that even the clothes of a holy man could impart healing (Acts 19:11-12). We also find in the other accounts that Jesus did not know who touched Him. This is another sign that Jesus had given up His glory to become fully human and had only the things the Holy Spirit gave Him at the time—just like us.
So then he goes to the house and despite the scorning of the professional mourners, he raises the child from the dead. Touching a dead body also made someone unclean (Numbers 19:11). But not only does Jesus not become unclean and cleanses the unclean, He raises them from the dead.
We’ve seen Jesus’ authority over creation and sickness, but death? Oddly, He tells the parents to get their child something to eat and not to tell anyone (Mark 5:43) but what would you do?
27 – 31
The same thing happens in this story. Jesus tells the blind men not to tell anyone, but to no avail. This is one of the reasons Jesus could not go about openly. His primary mission was to die to save the world. He was not just a miracle worker. But His great compassion led Him to reach out to those who were downcast and downtrodden, like the next man. Notice these men use a Messianic title for Jesus “son of David” (Isaiah 9:7).
I love what Jesus asks them: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Is that not the question that each of us must ask ourselves—do we believe that Jesus is able to not only open our eyes but forgive our sins and raise us to new life?
32 – 34
Matthew here focuses not on the exorcism itself but on two reactions to it: from the crowd and the Pharisees. The crowds recognize the uniqueness of Jesus, the Pharisees actually have the gall to attribute the miracle to Lucifer. They are on very dangerous ground. There is a position that suggests the only sin that will not be forgiven is blaspheme of the Holy Spirit. Jesus talks about it in chapter 12, but basically the same accusation is leveled against Him there.
He said in part: Matt 12:31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.