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.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Once again Matthew provides a more concise version than either Mark or Luke. (Mark 5:22-43; Luke 8:41-56). We learn a few more details from Mark and Luke.
Both the stories illustrate the relationship between faith and Jesus’ work. Matthew makes the same point in the upcoming stories of the blind man and the mute demoniac. Faith does not cause these miracles. They are in response to faith. They are signs of the Kingdom of God. Without the King Himself they would only be interesting stories. They would have no meaning. These stories would only be strange events.
While Jesus speaking to John’s disciples about fasting, a ruler of the synagogue came to Him. This man’s daughter had died. I have children. I have not experienced the grief of a child dying. I can only imagine. And by imagining the grief I feel is great. I would not want to experience its reality.
Here is evidence of God’s condescending to us. Looking back to Matthew 8 a centurion approached Jesus for a child’s healing. The centurion was a gentile. Here the ruler was a Jew. We see the full brightness of the centurion’s faith shine. But the ruler we see the smallest part of faith. He recognizes no power in Christ except through His touching the person. Mark and Luke tell us when he received word of her death, he trembled as if Christ could do nothing. He lost all hope. His faith was weak. Yet Christ continued and encouraged him. He could expect a favorable outcome. Even though his faith was weak Christ brought the ruler’s daughter back to life. We can rest in the grace and mercy of Christ our Lord. Though our faith is weak. The outcome is in Christ’s hands, not ours. Praise God for that.
On the way to the ruler’s house, a woman on the road was cured of a hemorrhage. This was most likely a vaginal hemorrhage. This made her unclean. All the Gospel writers say she had experienced this for twelve years. The woman was not negligent in trying to solve her problem. She had spent all she had on doctors. All Gospel writers state this so the glory of the miracle might shine brighter.
The woman thought that if she could only touch the fringe of his cloak she would be healed. The edge of the cloak refers to the kraspedon. This is the blue tassel on the garment. It symbolized a Jewish man’s obedience to the law (Numbers 5:37-41). The unclean woman touched the part of Jesus’ clothing that showed his ritual purity.
The thought to touch Christ’s garment came from the Holy Spirit. It is not a general rule. Men are superstitious. They try repeating an action. They think this magic ritual was the cause. In trying these magic spells or incantations they show contempt for God. They make up some extreme rituals and actions without God’s command. Their own ideas and desires lead them rather than the Spirit. If I only pray these words…. If I fast 2 days rather than 1…. If I do this or that…. We try to manipulate God. We forget we are His servants. His purpose is not to make our lives better or even easier. But, our purpose is to glorify Him.
This contrast between the two stories is stark. On one hand, we have a woman with great faith. She receives healing. On the other, we have a ruler with weak faith. yet Christ raises his daughter from the dead. God deals kindly and gently with His people. He accepts their faith, though imperfect and weak. He overlooks the faults and imperfections connected with it.
If we need to generate enough faith, we make faith a work. Rather we need to glorify Christ for His work. It is through the power of Christ. It is not because of any power of faith in itself
Christ went on to the ruler’s house. When He arrived, there were professional mourners there. Christ told them there was no need for their services. The girl was not dead. Rather the girl was alive. They laughed at Him. Contrast the strong faith in the woman, with the weak faith in the ruler. And there was no faith by those who had gathered. Yet Christ raises the girl.
Trust in Christ. Do not trust in your faith.