Summary: Examing four healings that take place in Matthew 9:18-34
You think you have problems Rick Cato tells the story of Mathieu Boya: “Boya was practicing his golf swing in a pasture adjacent to Africa’s Benin Air Base. With one swing of the golf club, Boya set off an unbelievable series of events. The shot, described as ‘a glorious slice,’ hit a bird, which in turn dropped onto the windshield of a trainer jet whose pilot was taxiing into position for takeoff. The pilot lost control of his plane and plowed into four shiny Mirage jets, totally demolishing the entire air force of Benin. Boya was jailed immediately for ‘hooliganism,’ and his attorney said he had no chance of winning a trial. The country wanted Boya to pay $40 million to replace the jets. Since Boya made only $275 per year, he figured it would take 145,000 years to pay off his debt to society.” Now there’s a man with a problem.
Our problems are usually much smaller. I read this week that Neil Armstrong has a problem. The Apollo 11 astronaut, who was the first man to walk on the moon, is suing to get his hair back. He used to go to Marx’s Barber Shop in Lebanon, Ohio, about once a month, but that stopped when he learned that the owner, Marx Sizemore, had swept up his hair clippings and sold them to a collector for $3,000. The collector claims to also have clippings from the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein, as well as other celebrities. One paper quipped: “One small trim for Neil Armstrong, one giant profit for Barber.”
In contrast, the people we read about in the scripture reading today were people with real problems. A father has a little girl who is dying. A woman has been hemorrhaging for 12 years. Two men are blind. Another man is inhabited by a demonic spirit and was unable to talk. These were all very serious problems, but in the space of 17 verses, Jesus healed them all. Let’s take a look at their stories one at a time.
The first story is that of a desperate father. His daughter lay dying and he runs to Jesus and falls at his feet begging him to come to his home and heal his daughter. He is the leader of the local synagogue, and we learn elsewhere that his name is Jairus. Jesus agrees to go, but it is not a smooth transition to the house where the little girl is on her death bed. The trip is interrupted by another person in desperate need. It must have been enormously frustrating to the father to have this delay. I can see him wishing Jesus would focus on the task before him and not get distracted. They did not have much time, in fact, unknown to the father at that moment, time had run out. The Gospel of Mark tells us that people came from Jairus’ house saying, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher any more?” (Mark 5:35). You can almost hear the father’s scream of grief. But Jesus simply says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
When Jesus arrives at the home, the mourners are wailing and playing low mournful tunes on the flute in a minor key. Jesus said, “Stop wailing. She is not dead but asleep.” Then the Bible says they laughed at him, because they knew she was dead. But Jesus took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up ” (Luke 8:52-54). It is interesting that we are not told what the reaction was of those who were laughing at him just a few minutes before. The assumption is that they were so amazed and ashamed that they were at a total loss for words. What could they say? Words of doubt and sarcasm could never be more out of place.
The healing of the woman with the hemorrhage may actually have been helpful to Jairus. It may have enabled him to to have more faith as he witnessed the power of Jesus to heal and restore this woman. He would need all the help he could get, for when he entered the home, heard the wailing of the mourners and saw the look on his wife’s face, all hope was drained from his heart. Jairus and all the people in the home knew that the girl was dead. But Jesus said that she was only asleep, meaning that the death was not permanent. He would see to it that she would wake up from this death.
So here we have Jesus’ amazing power over death. Everything the evil one came to destroy and take away, Jesus came to restore. This is not the devil’s world, this is God’s world. He made it and it belongs to him. Now we get glimpses of the restoration, but one day it will be final and complete. The Bible says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). What he has done in the past he can still do today, and one day he will do it all in finality. We serve a God who restores and renews. We serve a Christ who forgives, heals and raises from the dead. And Jesus did this despite the fear and doubt of the parents and their friends. There were no requirements on their part. There was only one request that Jesus made: “Don’t be afraid; only believe.” He wanted them to trust him. And even though this was the request of Jesus, we have no indication that they were able to live up to it. This is the kind of gracious compassion Jesus shows for those in need.