Tabletalk Devotions with R.C. Sproul - Monday, April 14, 2014
The Healing Touch of Christ
Matthew 9:18–26 “Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well” (v. 22).
When Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe the same event, the first evangelist usually abbreviates his account. Today’s passage, for example, describes the Lord’s healing of the hemorrhaging woman and the raising of Jairus’ daughter, an episode also found in Mark 5:21–43 and Luke 8:40–56. Matthew 9:18–26 leaves out details found in the second and third gospels, including the synagogue ruler’s name (Jairus) and Jesus’ order to feed the young girl after He resurrects her. Also, Jairus in Matthew’s gospel says that his daughter is already dead when he greets the Savior (9:18), whereas Jairus in Mark 5:22–23 and Luke 8:41–42 says she is dying. These accounts do not contradict one another, Matthew just shortens his narrative to give the urgency of Jairus’ words, not every single detail of the story (Mark 5:35; Luke 8:49). Even if Jairus’ daughter has not yet died when he first meets Jesus, she is certainly as good as dead, and only Christ can help her.
A woman who has been suffering a discharge of blood for twelve years approaches the Lord on His way to Jairus’ home (Matt. 9:20). She is probably afflicted with unending menstruation, which makes her ceremonially unclean and unable to associate with others lest she “pollute” them (Lev. 15:19–30). Effectively, she is an outcast and must avoid crowds. Yet she is desperate for wholeness and believes Jesus can heal her if she touches the fringe of His garment (Matt. 9:21) — tassels sewn on the clothing of Jewish men as a reminder of God’s commandments (Num. 15:37–41; Deut. 22:12). No doubt, superstition is mingled with the woman’s hope in Jesus, but she is still restored, and Christ reveals that this healing comes through her faith in Him, not the “magic” of His cloak (Matt. 9:22). Matthew Henry writes that faith is the “grace of all others [that] gives most honor to Christ, and therefore He gives most honor to it.”
Arriving at Jairus’ house, all hope seems lost, but Jesus, who holds the keys to death and hell (Rev. 1:17–18), knows that His power renders the girl’s demise only temporary. Amazingly, this Nazarene overrules death’s cruel hand and shows those who would ridicule Him who the fools really are (Matt. 9:23–26).
Coram deo: Living before the face of God
As when He healed the leper (Matt. 8:1–4), Jesus again shows His ability to make clean the unclean. These miracles are clear evidence that the old distinctions between the ceremonially clean and unclean pass away in the new covenant, for in Christ, God will cleanse all that brings pollution. There are no second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. If you know Christ, He is even now cleansing you and thereby enables you to approach Him with gladness.