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Matthew 9:18-26 – What others say about Jesus knowing how to care for people

In the 9th chapter of Matthew we can see how Jesus had a busy time. It shall not stay with this first time that Jesus would be interrupted in his talks. In this story the conversation with John’s disciples about fasting gets interrupted when a powerful man or “synagogue leader” comes to kneel before the Nazarene master.

in his writing of

Notice what an unusual request is being made. Jesus is asked to bring the man’s dead daughter back to life.

Browne remembers

It’s a bold request from a community leader who understands that touching a dead body will make Jesus unclean for a week, but he’s desperate. Jesus agrees to go (8:19).

When Jesus heads for the man’s house, an other desperate person wants to cling to Jesus.

In any communal event, she isn’t given the seat of honour: she’s expected to stand in the corner away from everybody else, for anything she sits on or anyone she touches will become unclean. Lev 15:19-33 spelled this out, and the verbal traditions of the Jewish leaders were so comprehensive that they formed an entire tractate of the Mishna when written down (Zabim). She’s on the lowest rung of communal life.

File:Healing of a bleeding women Marcellinus-Peter-Catacomb.jpg

The healing of a bleeding woman, Rome, Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter.

The woman, who had suffered from chronic bleeding for many years, and who had many treatments which did not help (Mark 5:25-28), wanted just to touch Jesus his cloak with the belief that if she could just touch his garment that she would be healed of her affliction. When she managed to try to do such an unnoticed act, Jesus noticing it, stopped and understood the fears that had made her attempt to take what she feared would have been denied her. He addresses her and

His words affirm the dignity and significance she doesn’t feel she has:

  • Instead of telling her off for touching him, he affirms her: “Be encouraged!”

  • Instead of treating her as a nuisance, he acknowledges her place in the family: “Daughter.”

  • Instead of rebuking her, he commends the confidence she placed in him: “Your faith has rescued you.”

In that action we can see how important faith in Jesus is to salvation. Not only suffering would come to an end, hope is given for a better life, even when there has been death.

Browne questions:

Now, seriously, who had the greater faith here? The woman who pushed in to get her healing? Or the ruler who believed Jesus could raise his daughter back to life? The ruler receives no such commendation for his faith. He didn’t need it. It’s the bleeding woman from the bottom rung of society whom Jesus stops to affirm. In fact, she’s the only person in Matthew’s Gospel to whom Jesus said those amazing words,

“Your faith has saved you.”

After the diversion, Jesus continued to the ruler’s house, where flute players and mourners where already making a commotion to ensure no one in the community was uninformed about their ruler’s loss (9:23). The community protocols requiring a display of grief are rather shallow: they quickly melt into laughter when Jesus suggests the girl is not dead but resting (9:24).

Jesus takes the dead girl by the hand, and raises her up. Touching the bleeding woman had not made Jesus unclean; it made her clean. Touching the corpse didn’t contaminate Jesus; it broke death’s hold on the girl. In Jesus, the defilement of the world is being undone; uncleanness and death are losing their grip.

Matthew doesn’t tell us how the girl’s parents responded. You can guess. What he declares is a kingdom statement, the news of Jesus restoring the land (9:31).

Those of us who are servants of Jesus’ kingdom could do well to meditate on how he cared across all the strata of society, and how he gave his richest encouragement to the people who needed it most.

 Open Matthew 9:18-26.

Tom Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-15 (London: SPCK, 2004), 104–105:

Two of the things that were near the top of the list, things to avoid if you wanted to stay ‘pure’ in that sense, were dead bodies on the one hand, and women with internal bleeding (including menstrual periods) on the other. And in this double story Jesus is touched by a haemorrhaging woman, and then he himself touches a corpse.
No Jew would have missed the point — and Matthew was most likely writing for a largely Jewish audience. In the ordinary course of events, Jesus would have become doubly ‘unclean’ …
But at this point we realize that something is different. Her ‘uncleanness’ doesn’t infect him. Something in him infects her.


Preceding articles

Matthew 9:14-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Bridegroom and Fasting

Matthew 9:14-17 – What others are saying about feasting at the sinners’ table instead of fasting for God’s table

Matthew 9:18-26 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: On the Way to Raise a Ruler’s Daughter a Woman is Cured


Related articles

  1. Today’s Scripture – September 26, 2017
  2. Today’s Scripture – October 31, 2016
  3. On Jairus’ Daughter and the Woman with the Bleeding (Mk. 5:21-43)
  4. Haggai 2:12-13, Mark 5:25-29
  5. A Loving God
  6. Dead men’s bones and uncleanness
  7. Daring to Pray
  8. The 2 Essential Skills of Great Leaders You Can’t Learn from a Book
  9. Don’t try and steal Jesus’ power

Matthew 9:14-17 – What others are saying about feasting at the sinners’ table instead of fasting for God’s table

posted on Managing criticism (Matthew 9:14-17)

In his writing he looks at the disciples of John the baptist and the disciples of the king of the kingdom and how Jesus handled criticism.

He copped it from the scribes (9:3). He copped it from the Pharisees (9:11). Now he cops it from friends: John the Baptist’s disciples:

Mathew 9:14 (his translation) Then John’s students came to him saying, “How come we and the Pharisees fast often, but your students don’t fast?”

Browne writes

Jesus understands how disillusioned John’s disciples feel. His first reaction is empathy. They’re grieving. Their leader has been taken from them. When the day comes when Jesus is taken away, his disciples will be grieving and fasting too:

9:15 Jesus said to them,

“It’s not possible for the bridal party to grieve when the bridegroom is with them. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken from them, and they’ll fast then.

We may not miss the main point.

Like a people separated from their heavenly sovereign, Israel has lamented and fasted so long for the coming of the one who would restore the Davidic kingship. Now the son of David is among them! Jesus is the bridegroom they’ve been waiting for. The king is here. This is no time for mourning. You may have been grieving in the past, but you can’t attend a wedding dressed in black with sorrow written all over your brow! This is a day of celebration. God is at work among his people again. His Messiah is leading the nation in joyful feasting.

Browne looks at the people who find change difficult and feel nostalgic about the old ways, the familiar ways, things they’ve grown up with.

Israel had been fasting and grieving for so long that lament now defined their faith. They could not imagine a kingdom characterized by feasting rather than fasting.

So Jesus tells two stories to make the point that they cannot mix the old and the new. They must let go of the familiar to experience the kingdom being established in Jesus. If they try to hold onto the old, they’ll lose both the old and the new:

9 16 No one puts a patch of new cloth on an old garment; for the fullness of it pulls away from the garment and the tear becomes worse.
9 17 Neither to you put new wine into old wineskins; if you do, the wineskins break, the wine is spilled and the wineskins are ruined. You put new wine in new wineskins and both are preserved.

Jesus is re-establishing the reign of God over humanity. Their old mourning clothes seemed so appropriate to the kingdom that disintegrated in Old Testament times, but those old garments cannot hold the new cloth of the kingdom being establishing under his kingship. Try to patch them together, and you lose both. The old leather wine bottles they’ve used for so long cannot contain the fresh fermenting wine of the new kingdom. Jesus understands their nostalgia, but they can’t have it both ways.

Jesus extended genuine empathy to those who struggled to adapt, while at the same time being crystal clear that they must relinquish the familiar to experience life under his kingship.

What others are saying

R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 356:

For John’s disciples that indicated a movement which did not take its religious commitment seriously, and the feasting in Matthew’s house only deepened their suspicion. In their different ways the Pharisees, John’s disciples and the Jesus circle were all renewal movements within first-century Judaism, and this brief encounter serves to draw out their distinctive approaches and priorities.

Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 300:

Weddings generally lasted seven days … Weddings were a matter of joy with which any signs of sorrow seemed conspicuously incongruent … The Gospels’ readers would probably catch an allusion that Jesus’ first hearers missed: Jesus is the groom of God’s people in the coming messianic banquet foreshadowed in their table fellowship (22:2; 25:10–13). The “taking” of the bridegroom, of course, is a veiled reference to the impending crucifixion.


Preceding article

Matthew 9:14-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Bridegroom and Fasting

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