18 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.” 19 And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. 20 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, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 23 And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24 he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 And the report of this went through all that district. – Matthew 9:18-26 ESV
Jesus and His disciples had just sailed back across the Sea of Galilee to the village of Capernaum. Before they could get out of the boat they were surrounded by a crowd of people who had been waiting for Jesus to return. Among them was Jairus, a leader in the local synagogue. He made his way through the throng of people surrounding Jesus and fell at His feet, begging Him to come and heal his 12-year-old daughter, who was near death. We knew from Mark’s account of this very same story, that the man’s name was Jairus and that he was “one of the rulers of the synagogue” (Mark 22 ESV). As they made their way to the man’s home, the crowd followed, pressing in on Jesus. They were all there for a variety of reasons. Some were simply curious. Others hoped to receive healing. Still others, influenced by the rhetoric of the religious leaders, were there because they hated Jesus. But one woman in the crowd was desperate and determined to see if this man called Jesus could help her with a very serious problem. Imagine the scene, as hundreds of people crowded around Jesus, jostling Him, bumping up against Him. Everyone wanted to get a closer look at Him. And somehow this very ill woman was able to make her way to His side, close enough to touch the hem of His robe. That was all she dared to do. She didn’t dare do what the leader of the synagogue had done. She probably felt unworthy because of the nature of her physical infirmity. According to the Mosaic law, she would have been considered unclean.
But she was driven by hope. She had heard about Jesus. And Mark tells us, “she thought to herself, ‘If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed'” (Mark 5:28 NLT). Driven by need, motivated by desperation, and encouraged by hope, she touched the robe of Jesus and was immediately healed. After 12 long years of suffering and countless trips to doctors that had left her financially destitute and worse off than when she started, she was healed. With just a touch of the robe of Jesus, she had received the miracle of healing.
And Jesus knew exactly what had happened. He had felt healing power go out from Him. So Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” (Luke 8:45 NLT). Interestingly, the word Jesus used for “touched” is one that can be translated, “to fasten oneself to.” It carries a sense of intimacy and closeness. Her touch was of a different nature than all the others who were bumping up against Jesus. Some in the crowd had viewed Jesus as a celebrity. This woman saw Him as a source of hope, help and healing. And when she touched Him, she did so fully intending for something unbelievable to happen. And it did.
Jesus takes the time to point out something special about this woman. He states, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well” (Matthew (9:22 ESV). But this statement can be misunderstood and misconstrued. Is Jesus really saying that it was this woman’s faith that provided her healing? Was it the source of and power behind her miraculous cure? No, it was Jesus. He had provided her healing. Her faith was simply the means by which she availed herself of the power available through Him. Her faith activated His compassion and made possible her cure. The important thing to consider is the source of her faith. It was Jesus. She truly believed that a single touch of His robe would provide the thing she needed most: Healing.
But it’s interesting to note that Jesus said nothing of the faith of Jairus and yet, he had said to Jesus, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live” (Matthew 9:18 ESV). His daughter was dead, but he seemed to believe that Jesus could raise her back to life. I would call that faith. But Jesus doesn’t say a word about it. Why? We may gain some insight if we compare the response of Jairus to that of the centurion in the previous chapter. The Roman had stated that Jesus could heal his servant with just a word. And yet, Jairus seemed to believe that any hope of healing his daughter would require a touch from the hand of Jesus. His faith, while evident, had some caveats attached to it.
If we look at Mark’s account of this same story, he seems to indicate that the man’s daughter was “near death” when he approached Jesus. She was on the verge of death. But by the time Jesus showed up at Jairus’ house, she had died. And it was upon hearing this news that Jairus lost all hope. Because Jesus immediately said to him, “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36 ESV). Her death had done a number on his faith. Suddenly, all thoughts of his daughter being “made well” (Mark 5:23 ESV) were gone. But Jesus was far from done. Death was not an obstacle to Him, and more than the woman’s issue of blood and unclean state.
Jesus, upon seeing the mourners and the commotion they were causing, dimissed them, saying, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping” (Matthew 9:24 ESV). And they all laughed in His face. They viewed His response as either insensitive or simply stupid. He didn’t know what He was talking about. But Matthew matter-of-factly states, “he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose” (Matthew 9:25 ESV).
Mark provides us with a bit more detail:
41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. – Mark 5:41-42 ESV
A woman was healed. A young girl was raised back to life. All because of Jesus. There was no problem too great for Him to handle. There were no individuals He deemed unworthy of His healing touch. Romans, widows, adolescents, the lame, the unclean and the demon-possessed all found in Jesus a source of hope and healing. But the key is that they came to Jesus. The took the problem to the only viable source of a solution.
Now, think about the crowd that surrounded Jesus that day. We have no idea how many were there, but we do know that they were all trying to come into contact with Jesus. They were following Him and wanted to gain access to Him. And while many of them touched Him that day, only one walked away healed.
You see, there are so many times that each of us come into touch with Jesus. We read about Him in the Word. We hear about Him through a sermon, Bible study lesson or small group study. We spend a great deal of our lives “bumping” into Jesus, but never expecting anything to happen as a result. We are part of the crowd that follows Him and even says we believe in Him, but we rarely receive anything from Him. Maybe it is our seeming lack of need or our failure to believe that He can do anything to help us. We come into contact with Jesus, but walk away unchanged. And the problem lies not with Jesus, but with us. We don’t reach out to Him expectantly, because we fail to believe He has the power to heal us or help us. The woman in the story had spent twelve years of her life reaching out to everyone but Jesus, and now she was desperate enough to try Him instead. Jesus told her that it was her faith that made her well. Yes, it was His power that healed her, but it began with her belief that simply reaching out to Jesus would make a different in her life. Her touch became the conduit of healing. Her faith as expressed through her intentional touch of Jesus changed her life forever. She chose to “fasten herself” to Jesus. So should we.
In the time it took for this miracle to happen, a tragedy occured. Jairus’ daughter died. A servant arrived with the news, but Jesus was not deterred or downcast. He simply said, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed” (Luke 8:50 NLT). Like the woman in the crowd, Jairus had a choice to make. He could have doubted Jesus’ words and given up all hope. But he chose to believe and then put that belief into action by walking alongside Jesus to his home. Matthew records that Jairus, upon hearing of his daughter’s death, told Jesus, “you can bring her back to life again if you just come and lay your hand on her” (Matthew 9:18 NLT). Which is exactly what Jesus did. He took the little girl by the hand, commanded her to get up, and she did – fully alive and fully restored. Jairus had chosen to believe. He ignored the circumstances and “fastened himself” to Jesus. He counted on Him to solve his pressing need. And Jesus did. He always does. He longs to feel healing power go from Himself in response to the faith of His followers. He longs to respond to the faith of His disciples when they choose to fasten themselves to Him even in the face of insurmountable odds. Are you willing to reach out and touch Jesus today? He is waiting.
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.