Matthew 9: 18-38: Raising the Dead
In our story last week we came back with the Lord from across the Sea of Galilee to the Gennesaret shore and touched Me?" He asked, and the woman came trembling and kneeled before Him and told Him what she had done. "Daughter, be of good cheer," the Lord said; "thy faith hath made thee whole."
Where was the Lord going? To the house of Jairus where the little girl had died. And now they came and found the house full of people and minstrels mourning and making sad sounds, as mourners used to do and as they still do in that land. The Lord knew that when a little girl dies her life is not ended, as they supposed. She sleeps while good angels are near to guard her and soon the Lord awakens each one to live in the heavenly home. Hear what the Lord said and see what He did to teach the people at Jairus' house, and to teach us all, about death. Read verses 18-26.
These were only some of the many works of kindness that the Lord was doing. Now two blind men met Him. You know what blindness is. And now there was brought to Him one possessed of a devil, who was dumb - he could not speak - and many, many more. "Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people." The people with their many troubles, so weak and ignorant, but so ready to be helped - they were like sheep without a shepherd. They were like the harvest ready to be gathered. How He loved to help them! Read verses 27-38.
The story gives another glimpse of the busy usefulness which filled the days of the Lord's life on earth. You will be glad to compare the brief account of the Lord's raising Jairus' daughter and healing the woman who touched Him in the throng, with the fuller accounts in Mark 5:22-43, and Luke 8:41-56. The healing of the woman makes very real to us the power that went forth from the Lord, from His touch, and even from His garment's hem, and not unconsciously to Him but with His knowledge and love. It helps us to realize how He hears our prayers and gives us strength when we reach out to Him, even in the midst of the crowd and the confusion of the street. He knows it when we think of Him, He feels the touch, He is only waiting for such a chance to give His help.
And now at Jairus' house. You must learn this story well and bring it to mind whenever you hear that a child has died. Remember especially the Lord's words, "She is not dead, but, sleepeth," and His words as He took her by the hand, "Talitha cumi" ("Little maid, arise"). You must connect with this in your mind two other miracles of raising the dead, and the similar words, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth." (Luke 7:11-17; John 11:1-44.)
Just what happens when a person dies? He comes at first into a sweet, peaceful sleep; angels are near to protect him from every disturbing influence. This sleep is to prepare one for the awakening, which is usually "on the third day," "after two days." With little children the sleep is short. The awakening is by the Lord's own power; it comes with great gentleness, nothing sudden or startling about it. At first one is conscious of the angels' presence. Gradually he opens his eyes to see them. Everyone and everything about him is homelike and familiar. He hardly knows at first that he is in another world. Read about this change of death in H. 448-452. Read Matthew 9:18-26.
The rest of the chapter tells of other miracles of healing. Notice in verse 30, the charge to the two blind men who were healed: "See that no man know it." Compare Matthew 8:4; 12:16. What could be the reason for this charge? Why would not the Lord wish His miracles to be known, that as many people as possible might be drawn to Him? Would it always be useful for people to be attracted by the hope of healing or other natural help? Might this make it harder for some to care for the deeper gifts that are of greater value? The true order is shown in the Lord's words, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)
The sheep without a shepherd, and the plenteous harvest waiting to be gathered. They bring to mind many parables of the Lord in which He is the good Shepherd tending His sheep, and the Keeper of the garden and the vineyard. In this work of tending and keeping He needs us to help as under-shepherds and as laborers in the field and vineyard. Can we see a little work of either kind that He offers us to do?
1. "A certain ruler." What was he ruler of? What was his name? What did the Lord find at the house? What did He say? What did He do?
2. What happened on the way to the ruler's house?
3. What is it like to die? What sort of sleep? When is the awakening? Is it sudden or gentle? Is one alone when he wakes? Where do children find a home when they die? What kind of a home is it?
You will wish to continue the thought that we followed in the last lesson, that the miracles described in this chapter which were done by the Lord after coming down from the mountain represent the effects of bringing the Christian law down into the plane of practical life. One of these effects is pictured in the raising of Jairus' daughter. A maiden represents a spiritual affection, especially an affection for spiritual truth. This maiden, the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, represents such affection in the Jewish Church, and in all whose formal religion has not yet been made living by the Lord. The Lord's desire and power to quicken this heavenly affection is expressed by His tenderly raising the little girl, and the duty to nourish the affection by wise instruction is expressed in the command that something should be given her to eat. (A. 2348; E. 863)
It is remarkable that the story of raising Jairus' daughter in each of the three Gospels where it occurs is interrupted by the account of healing the woman who came behind Him in the way and touched the hem of the Lord's garment. There must be a close spiritual relation between the two miracles. This healing of the woman on the way to the ruler's house must represent a necessary step toward the quickening of the spiritual affection for truth, which is represented by the little girl. The issue of blood and the spending of her living upon physicians to no purpose, suggest a wasted effort for good life. The waste is checked by touching the hem of the Lord's garment. What are spiritual garments? Thoughts and words and outward acts are garments, as they clothe the living affections of the heart. The Lord's Word is His garment, and the hem is the practical summing up of His truth in precepts of good life. We touch the hem if we make these our guide. There is no more effort wasted in looking to this or that worldly source for guidance. We must now acknowledge and give thanks for strength found in obeying the Lord. And this touching of the garment's hem is the necessary basis for the quickening of the spiritual affection for truth, which is represented by the little daughter of Jairus. See Psalm 111:10; John 7:17. (A. 9917, 10023; E. 195)
When the affection for truth is quickened, effects follow which are represented by opening the eyes of the blind men, and loosing the tongue of the dumb. What spiritually is the opening of blind eyes? The opening of the mind to see what is genuinely true and good. (A. 6990; E. 239) And what the loosing of the tongue? The confession of truth, you say. Yes, and back of confession there must be a clear grasp of truth in the mind. Doubt and confusion in the thought keep one from speaking, or make him speak haltingly. Clear thought is the first necessity for clear speech. Such thought and the grateful expression of it are both represented by the loosing of the tongue. (A. 6988)
What element of human character is made prominent when the Lord calls men His sheep and Himself their Shepherd? The innocent affection of their hearts which needs His guidance. And what when He calls them His harvest? The knowledge of heavenly truth developing into good uses of life.