30 May 2021

Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a sick woman – Matthew 9:18-26  

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18 While Jesus was speaking a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, ‘My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.’ 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. 20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.’ 22 Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment. 23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and the people playing pipes, 24 he said, ‘Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.

A. The coming of the new

In verses 16-17 (immediately preceding our passage) Jesus was speaking to the disciples of John the Baptist (and, presumably, his own as well) about how he was bringing newness – new wine in new skins.

Question 1: How do the two healing miracles demonstrate the newness of coming of the Kingdom of God?

Question 2: How can our lives demonstrate the coming of the Kingdom of God today?

B. Christian love across society’s divides

Both beneficiaries were insignificant – a sick woman, a young girl – they were classified as amme-ha’aretz – ‘people of the land’- who could never be regarded as holy. Rabbis would pay them no attention. But Jesus cared for the despised and for the outsider. His ‘new’, the Kingdom of God, the promise of eternal life, was to be fully open to them.

Question 3: Who are the untouchables/outcasts/outsiders around us?

Question 4: How can we reach out them and support them – either individually or with charities?

Question 5: What social barriers or fault lines are we aware of in our sphere of contact?

Question 6: How can we take easy opportunities to give warm-hearted greetings (such as ‘Take heart, daughter’) across any of today’s fault-lines – eg: inequality, faith, ethnicity?

Question 7: How can we (should we) deliberately generate such opportunities?

Question 8: What can we to help bridge or break down those barriers?

C. What is faith?         

“Faith is not an intellectual construct: it is a primary form of cognition, like touch.”

“Faith is what brings us into contact with Jesus – even if the faith is full of error and inadequacy, it can avail so long as it is located in Jesus. The faith may be a last resort, it may be superstitious, it may be theologically deficient. But if it is placed in Jesus, it binds the sinner and the saviour together and that is what he came to bring about.”   (Michael Green – Matthew For Today)

Question 9: How do we understand faith in our own lives?

Question 10: If faith is like touch (a seventh sense?) how can we strengthen it?

Question 11: If our faith is theologically deficient how can we remedy that?