Are you a parent? Have you had a time when a child was sick and you didn’t really know what to do? If you were young or perhaps still are and the child was young, you likely called a parent first to ask if they had some idea what you should do and maybe a friend whose children were older than yours. You may even have gotten on google to see if there is an answer online for what you are dealing with. It usually isn’t long before we begin to try to reach a doctor or carry the child to the hospital. Few things in life are more upsetting than to have a child very sick and not know what to do to help them. In Matthew 9:18-26 the story is told of a ruler among the Jews who had a daughter who was twelve years old and very sick. Since this man was a ruler of the Jews he may well have been one of the Scribes or Pharisees who had been very critical of Jesus and his ministry in days past. But now things have changed entirely. His own child is sick and he doesn’t know what to do to help her. Death is very near unless something can happen to intervene for her. Then he hears that Jesus is in the area. He had heard time and again of Jesus and all the people of various diseases whom he had healed. It didn’t take long for him to swallow his prejudice and fears of what others might think, to rush to Jesus and plead with him to come. Both Mark and Luke’s account of the story says that the girl was sick. Matthew’s account says she had died. Either way, she was about to die. “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.”
He had hope in his voice. He probably didn’t understand a lot of things that Jesus had done or said. But Jesus was the last hope for his daughter so he pleaded with him to come to his house and take care of this little girl. “Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples.” There seems to have been no hesitation on the part of Jesus to go. He could easily have asked the man why he would come to him now in such a case when all his friends had said every kind of ugly thing about Jesus you could have imagined. He could have pointed out how his friends had declared that it was by the power of the devil that he was healing the sick and casting out demons. But Jesus knew this dad was in pain. He was struggling with fear and torment about the health of his daughter that he dearly loved. Jesus ignored all the baggage and simply arose to go with the ruler to heal this daughter.
As is so often the case with Jesus, as he started to the home of the ruler to heal his daughter he was interfered with by someone else who was hurting. A woman had been having a problem with bleeding for the last twelve years. Her problem had gone on the same amount of years the little girl had lived. She had gone to doctor after doctor seeking help until she had spent all the money available to her and was not improved at all. She too heard that Jesus was passing through the area. Even though the law said that a woman with this kind of problem wasn’t to enter into a crowd nor touch any other person for fear of contaminating them, she was on a mission. She believed with everything in her that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus garment she would be healed. She ignored the law and all the Jewish customs and entered the crowd, came up behind Jesus, believing that if she could just touch the hem of his garment she would be healed. She longed to not be a spectacle and just touch his garment, be healed and ease away without anyone being the wiser. Sure enough, she got to him in the crowd and reached out to touch him. Power came from Him into her and she immediately felt her body healed. The flow of blood stopped. As she began to fall back into the crowd, Jesus turned. “Who touched me?” The apostles began to ask him how they could know since the crowd was so large. But she was convicted to the degree she knew she had been found out and came to fall before him telling him how she had been healed. She may have expected Jesus to reprimand her for violating the Old Testament Law. But he didn’t do that at all. He told her that her faith had made her well.
By this time the Jewish leader was discouraged. According to both Mark and Luke, the word came then that she was dead and that he didn’t need to continue to bother the Lord. Jesus told him not to be afraid. When he came to the home, he told the people to stop all the commotion that she wasn’t dead but asleep. They laughed at him at the very thought. He took Peter, James, and John with him into the room where the girl was laying. He also took the mother and dad with him into her room. There he took the hand of the girl and said to her, “Little girl arise.” She arose and Jesus told the people standing around to get her some food to eat. Now she could walk, talk and be involved in life all around her, even though her sickness had led to her immediate death. Now she was alive.
Think for a moment how the ruler of the Jews felt. His dream of his little girl living and being able to make a difference in the world was now alive again. His fear and worry about her life and the future were gone. Can you imagine the exhilaration he felt when his daughter arose and began to walk, talk and eat again? I wish we knew what happened in the coming years with both this family and the woman who had been healed after twelve years of struggling with her sickness. Alas, we are left to wonder, if they became devout disciples who stood with and for him from that day on or if they along with others around them, in the days of trial that were soon coming, ones who turned their backs on him to cry out with the crowd, “Crucify him, crucify him?”
Here is what we can know. No matter what our sickness or hurt, no matter what agony we are going through, Jesus cares and He can help. It is so discouraging when you as that young parent call someone to ask what you should do for your child that is sick, and they answer, “I don’t have any idea. I never had anything like that to happen with my children.” Thank God, when we go to Him through Jesus we never get the answer that it is new to them or that they don’t know what to do. God cares and God can.