Matthew 9:18-26 Faith & Healing

A Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 22 January 2012


9:18 While He is saying these things to them, see, there’s one president coming up; he kneels before Him saying, “My daughter just expired, but come, lay your hand upon her, and she will live.”

9:19 And, once Jesus got up, He started following him – and also His disciples.

9:20 Now, see, a woman having hemorrhaged for twelve years came up from behind and touched the fringe of His clothing.

9:21 For she was saying within herself, “If only I might touch His fringe, I will be delivered!”

9:22 And Jesus, once He had turned around and looked at her, said, “Keep on being courageous, daughter, your faith has delivered you.” And the woman was delivered from that hour on.

9:23 Now, once Jesus had gone into the house of the president and seen the pipe-players and the wailing crowd, 9:24 He started saying, “Clear out! For the girl did not die, but rather she is sleeping.” Then they started laughing at Him.

9:25 But when the crowd had been kicked out, He came in and took hold of her hand, and so the girl was raised up.

9:26 And this news went out into all that [part of] the world.

The official’s request and Jesus’ Response (v.18-19)

9:18 While He is saying these things to them, see, there’s one president coming up; he kneels be­fore Him saying, “My daughter just expired, but come, lay your hand upon her, and she will live.”

ταυτα αυτου λαλουντος αυτοις ιδου αρχων εις ελθων[1] προσεκυνει αυτω λεγων οτι η θυγατηρ[2] μου αρτι ετελευτησεν αλλα ελθων επιθες την χειρα σου επ αυτην και ζησεται

·         This steady stream of requests being brought to Jesus by the lake in Capernaum must have been amazing to the disciples. First He’s responding to scribes about welcoming sinners into God’s kingdom, then He deals with disparities with John’s disciples, and before He’s even finished answering them, the president of the synagogue, who would be analogous to an elder who was chairman of the board of a church, came forward to ask Jesus to come over to his house and revive his dead daughter. Before Jesus can even get there, he is approached by another woman needing healing.

·         The synagogue ruler/official/president, whom Mark 5:22 and Luke 8:41 informs us is named Jairus, dispenses with formalities of speech and demands that Jesus come and put His healing touch on his daughter, whom Luke informs us is 12 years old and is his only child.

·         He is a powerful man in the community and could probably demand anything he wanted. But he makes his demand while kneeling before Jesus (the Greek word for “kneel” is also the word used for “worship”) – this attitude of kneeling before Jesus, showed respect as well as the humility of one who is begging for help.

·         This man has faith in Jesus enough to kneel before Him in an attitude of worship. Remember that Jews didn’t just kneel before anybody:

o       Mordecai almost got himself killed for refusing to kneel before the 2nd-in-command man in Persia,

o       and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego almost got themselves killed for refusing to bow before the king of Persia.

·         This man also is certain that Jesus can heal his daughter. The Greek language has a subjunctive case he could have used in his request; he could have said, “Lay your hand on her that she MIGHT live,” but instead he used the indicative, “Lay your hand on her, and she WILL live/be revived.”

·         What’s wrong with the girl? In Matthew’s account her dad says she is eteleusen – literally “completed/finished,” Mark uses a similar word indicating she is breathing literally her “last.” There is a different word for “dead” in Greek, and Luke uses that word to indicate she is “dying” in his account. The girl is “done for,” her life is finished.

·         Perhaps he didn’t have the faith of the Roman centurion who believed Jesus could heal at a distance with a mere word, but this was faith all the same. The centurion’s son was merely sick; this girl was dead!


9:19 And, once Jesus got up, He started following him – and also His disciples.

και εγερθεις ο ιησους ηκολουθησεν[3] αυτω και οι μαθηται αυτου

·         Jesus becomes a follower. He leaves his posture as a teacher (which was a sitting posture in those days) by “getting up” and walking behind this man who was expecting Him to perform a miracle for his daughter.

·         Would you like Jesus to follow you? Sometimes shepherds walk behind their sheep when they know they’re headed the right direction, but the shepherd is still there to protect the sheep and ensure that they reach their goal.

·         Trust Jesus for great things and you just might find Him walking right behind you, encouraging you all the way!

The woman’s quest and Jesus’ Response (v.20-22)

9:20 Now, see, a woman having hemorrhaged for twelve years came up from behind and touched the fringe of His clothing.

και ιδου γυνη αιμορροουσα δωδεκα ετη προσελθουσα οπισθεν ηψατο του κρασπεδου του ιματιου αυτου

·         The word for “hemorrhaging/bleeding/having an issue/discharge/flow of blood” is only found in one other place in the Bible, and that is Leviticus 15:33. Leviticus 15 makes it clear that as long as she was bleeding she was considered unclean and therefore not allowed into the temple. Can you imaging having a disease that kept you from being able to gather with fellow believers in God for 12 years straight?

·         Her continuous feminine bleeding also meant she could not enjoy a normal marriage relationship or have children. Can you imagine the rejection and loneliness she must have felt for all these years?

·         Mark and Luke inform us that she had gone to doctors to find a cure, but that they couldn’t heal her. Not only that, but they demanded all her money in return for their worthless cures, so she was not only rejected and lonely, she was also left very poor.

·         Furthermore, Mark tells us that her suffering was increased by the doctors whose attempts at curing her made her worse, a fact that Luke doesn’t mention, perhaps because he was a doctor himself!

·         This woman was in a desperate situation, but she had one last resort, and that was to touch Jesus on the Karpedou – the blue hem/edge/fringe of that Moses instructed the Jews to trim their garments with as a reminder of their walking within the boundaries of God’s law:

o       Numbers 15:38-39 “Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the com­mandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes”

o       (repeated in Deuteronomy 22:12 “You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.”)

o       It was this feature of clothing that Jesus mentioned when He talked about the Pharisees that “…broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments…to be seen by men” (Matthew 23:5)

o       The Prophet Zechariah has an interesting prophecy about the nations grabbing the hem of the robe of a Jew because God is with him (8:23) and perhaps it was this prophecy that led to a belief that spread among the people of Jesus’ day that if anyone touched the fringe on Jesus’ clothing, they would be healed,

o       and, according to Matthew 14:36 and Mark 6:56, a number of people besides the hemorrhaging woman were indeed healed this way! “Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured [lit. saved/delivered].” (NASB)


9:21 For she was saying within herself, “If only I might touch His fringe, I will be delivered!”

ελεγεν γαρ εν εαυτη εαν μονον αψωμαι του ιματιου αυτου σωθησομαι

·         The word for her goal is sozw in Greek – literally “saved.”

o       Of course in this case, being healed/made well is part of the equation for her, but there are other words which specifically mean “healed” in Greek, and she chose a word that meant more than just that.

o       The KJV translates it “made whole” which, I think, is a better way to express the comprehensiveness of the healing she desired.

o       Salvation generally means being delivered from something bad. Deliverance from sin, deliverance from God’s wrath, deliverance from death, and here it means deliverance from a certain disease and all the rejection and loneliness that went with it[4].

o       “O my God, please set me free from this!” Have you ever cried out to God in desperation like this? If you haven’t yet, you will need to some day, and God will deliver you just as He did this woman.

·         Whatever the case, she genuinely believed that she would experience deliverance if she could touch Jesus. There was faith in Jesus, even if it was immature faith. She had no question that He could fix her problem, and so she came to Him.

·         Notice how this woman strengthened herself in her faith: the Greek Imperfect verb tense implies that this woman was telling herself over and over again that if only she could touch Jesus, she would be healed, and it spurred her on.

o       This is a good lesson to us in building up our faith in God. Encourage your own faith in Jesus by talking to yourself.

o       David talked to himself in the Psalms to stir up his own faith, “Why so downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God!” (Psalm 42:5), then he says it again 6 verses later, “Why so downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God!” (Psalm 42:11) Talk to yourself to encourage your faith!

·         At this point, Mark and Luke supply some more details that Matthew passed over:

o       There is a large crowd of people milling around Jesus as he heads to Jairus’ house, and there are apparently many people jostling Jesus in the crowd.

o       But when this particular woman touches Jesus’ robe, Jesus notices that His healing power has gone forth, and, I believe He also knows who it went to, but He wants her story to be known, so instead of letting her surreptitiously get away with a secret healing, He calls her out by asking, “Who touched me?”

o       This puts her in the spotlight so she can tell her story. She is so afraid she is trembling, and she prostrates herself at Jesus’ feet and explains what happened, so the disciples can hear it and write it down for us later.

o       Her healing was immediate, as soon as she touched Jesus’ garment.


9:22 And Jesus, once He had turned around and looked at her, said, “Keep on being courageous, daughter, your faith has delivered you.” And the woman was delivered from that hour on.

ο δε ιησους [επι[5]]στραφεις και ιδων αυτην ειπεν θαρσει θυγατερ η πιστις σου σεσωκεν σε και εσωθη η γυνη απο της ωρας εκεινης

·         Jesus stopped what He was doing and turned His attention to her and looked her full in the face when she reached out to Him. How often do we do that when our spouse our children or roommates reach out to us? Jesus sets an example of stopping what we’re doing and looking them in the eye to demonstrate love and kindness to them.

·         He even calls her “daughter,” as though she were His child – the same word the president used of his biological daughter. He is instantly ready to take on the obligations of a father to care for her. What a contrast to the rejection and loneliness this woman had experienced in her religious and social life! Jesus calls her His own daughter.

·         He loves us and calls us His children too (1 John 3:1-3  See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.)

·         Jesus literally tells the woman that her faith has “saved” her. I believe that the word “saved” has a double meaning here:

o       As I have said before, sickness and sin are intertwined.

§         Although they are two different things and not to be confused,

§         still, neither can exist without the other,

§         and both are used to figuratively represent the other.

o       I believe that not only was this woman delivered physically from her incessant bleeding, by Jesus’ miracle-working power, as evidenced by the testimony of the subsequent verses,

o       I believe she was also delivered spiritually by God’s saving power through faith in Jesus, as evidenced by Jesus’ calling her His daughter and telling her that her faith had already saved her.

§         I know that all the modern English versions say that her faith made her “well” or “healed,” but once again, the Greek root swzw (literally “saved/delivered”) rather than another word such as holoclaria/well or therepeuw/healed is what is in the text, so I believe it means more than just physical health.

§         Additionally, this verb swzw is spelled in the Greek perfect tense, indicating that this is something that had happened in the past and was going to have continuing results. I believe this further supports a double-meaning. When she fixed herself on the belief that Jesus would deliver her, she had eternal life, and then when she met Jesus face-to-face, she was also delivered of her physical infirmity as well.

§         In the same way, we who are fixed upon the belief that Jesus will deliver us from death and hell will also be freed from all our physical infirmities when we meet Jesus face to face in heaven!

·         The one thing Jesus tells the woman to do is to take heartNIV,ESV/be of good cheerNKJ/be of good comfortKJV/take courageNASB! The present tense of the command indicates that this is something she would have to do over and over again. Why would that be the one command Jesus gives her?

o       Faith is not just a matter of raising your hand to accept Jesus as your savior and then living the rest of your life in fear or anger toward what you can’t control.

o       Rather, a life of faith in Jesus is a life of taking courage over and over again and trusting Him over and over again as each new challenge comes up, all the way until the end when you finally stand, trembling, before Him in person, and wait for Him to say those words you’ve longed to hear all your life, “Well done, good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of your Lord!” (Matt. 25:21)

o       If Jesus commanded the paralyzed man to take courage and now this hemorrhaging woman to take courage, I do not think it is too much of a stretch to say that this command also applies to each one of us. Let us also be courageous to keep trusting Jesus and keep coming to Him in prayer, believing He will pay attention to us and He can and will deliver us from all that is evil! He will not reject you or forsake you.

The healing of the official’s daughter (v.23-26)

·         Here again, Matthew skips over some details that Mark and Luke record:

o       A messenger comes from the synagogue president’s house saying that the girl is dead.

o       Jairus has apparently told his household that he was going to get Jesus, in hopes that Jesus could heal her before she died. Now that she has been pronounced dead, they don’t think it will do any good to bother Jesus anymore.

o       Jesus takes this occasion to call out more faith in Jairus; He says, “Don’t fret, just keep trusting, and she will be made whole.” Jesus asks Jarius to stretch from believing that He could heal a dying girl to believing that He could heal a dead girl.

o       Impressively, Jairus takes the challenge. “Dead? This is crazy, but O.K. Jesus, I’m going to grow in my faith to believe that You could do even this!”

o       By the way, don’t be surprised if God also puts faith-stretchers along your path too. Yes, you could trust God to do a certain amount, but then He adds one more thing and calls you to trust Him more. Let us follow Jairus’ example and accept these challenges to believe more than we ever though we could.


9:23 Now, once Jesus had gone into the house of the president and seen the pipe-players and the wailing crowd, 9:24 He started saying, “Clear out! For the girl did not die, but rather she is sleeping.” Then they started laughing at Him.

και ελθων ο ιησους εις την οικιαν του αρχοντος και ιδων τους αυλητας και τον οχλον θορυβουμενον
ελεγεν[6] αναχωρειτε ου γαρ απεθανεν το κορασιον αλλα καθευδει και κατεγελων αυτου

·         Jeremiah 31:36 speaks of mourning using these hollow aulon wind instruments, and it is still a tradition today among us to have a bagpipe player play Amazing Grace at a graveside service.

·         In addition to the musicians was a group of people called a noise-makingKJV,NIV crowd/wailingNKJ/in disorderNAS/making a commotionESV that weren’t musicians but were just there to make a hullabaloo – called thoruboumenon to mark the passing away of the daughter of a prominent man in town.

o       Perhaps they were professional mourners who had just been hired by the family,

o       or perhaps they were just opportunists hoping to be paid for their addition to the mourning of this little girl’s death.

o       This practice is mentioned on two other occasions in the Bible:

§         Judges 3:26 where the Moabites are responding to the assassination of their king Eglon,

§         and also in Acts 20:10, where the onlookers are about to mourn after Eutychus fell out of a third-story window to his death.

·         anachwreite If we take the reading of the majority of the most ancient manuscripts, Jesus is pictured as repeatedly shooing these bystanders away. What He says could literally be rendered, “Give placeKJV/make roomNKJ/vacate the premises!” or figuratively “leaveNAS/go awayNIV,ESV

·         He proceeds to tell them that the girl is not dead but rather just asleep (apethanenkatheudei)

o       Was she not dead?

§         I have to give the benefit of the doubt to the messenger from the house that she was indeed dead. Just because this happened 2,000 years ago does not mean that humans didn’t already have thousands of years of experience in determining whether someone was dead or not.

§         Furthermore, this was a dearly-loved, only child, so they would not give up on her life unless they were truly convinced that she was gone.

§         And being the president of the synagogue, this man probably had the means to hire the best medics, so the report of her death was probably quite reliable.

§         Luke 8:53 says moreover that “they knew she was dead.”

o       The word which Jesus used for “sleep,” although it usually means “slumber,” is used on a few other occasions in the Bible as a euphemism for death (Ps. 88:5, Dan. 12:2, 1 Thess. 5:10), although, in those cases it indicates death as a prelude to the afterlife, not as a final rest. So this could be the meaning: that her death is not intended to be permanent but that she is to be brought back to life.

o       This reminds me of a similar statement Jesus made later to Martha after her brother Lazarus had died: John 11:21-26 “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

·         By saying that the girl is just asleep and implying that He will wake her up, Jesus is calling the crowd to believe in Him as well, but they provide a contrast to the believing Jairus – they laugh at Jesus’ statement of the truth.

o       The Greek word for their laughter, kategelwn does not mean mere incredulity (they might have furrowed their brows in puzzlement at a statement that contradicted what they thought to be true), but rather it indicates arrogant scorn.

o       They thought they knew better than He did what the condition of this girl was and what should be done in this circumstance, and that they did not want Him around. They resented His intrusion.

o       This word for derisive laughter is found in all three of the gospel-writers’ accounts of this event, and besides that is only found 15 other places, all in a context of the scorn of an enemy, not the laughter of friends[7].


9:25 But when the crowd had been kicked out, He came in and took hold of her hand, and so the girl was raised up.

οτε δε εξεβληθη ο οχλος εισελθων εκρατησεν της χειρος αυτης και ηγερθη[8] το κορασιον

·         Apparently the crowd is in a courtyard, not in the inner room where the girl is lying. Jesus kicks the crowd out of the courtyard (also sending away most of His disciples) and then goes into the inner room with Peter, James, and John – and Jairus and his wife, and with these 5 witnesses watching, Jesus raises the girl up.

·         The verb used to describe how Jesus grabbed her hand indicates the power with which He did it, as the root of the verb means to exercise power – κρατέω – from which we get words like autocrat, bureaucrat, democrat. Listen to Thayer’s definition of the word: 1) to have power, be powerful 1a) to be chief, be master of, to rule 2) to get possession of 2a) to become master of, to obtain 2b,c) to take hold of, take, seize, 2c1) to lay hands on one in order to get him into one’s power, 3a) to hold in the hand. 3b) to hold fast, i.e. not discard or let go, 3b1) to keep carefully and faithfully, 3c) to continue to hold, to retain… This is what Jesus did with this little girl, taking authority over her life and saving her from death!

·         The word translated “arose/got up” in most English Bibles is the same word used of:

o       Peter’s mother-in-law getting up and serving Jesus after He healed her (8:15),

o       Jesus waking up from sleeping in the boat in 8:26,

o       the paralyzed man getting up and walking at Jesus’ command (9:6),

o       and Jesus’ standing up from teaching in a sitting position to follow Jairus to the house (9:15),

o       so it has a broad range of meaning, including rising from the dead, as it is applied to Christ’s resurrection later (Rom. 6:4).

o       Luke (8:55) and Mark (5:42) mentions that her spirit returned to her and that she walked around and got something to eat, no longer dead and not even sick anymore!

·         Once again, this is what Jesus can do for you. This is His power and this is His love which can take hold of you and raise you up (anhistemi) on the last day (John 6:39-40).


9:26 And this news went out into all that [part of] the world.

και εξηλθεν η φημη[9] αυτη εις ολην την γην εκεινην

·         “And the fame/report/news went out/spread into all that land/district/region/part of the world.”

·         This is the bottom line: God’s glory. God loves to see His glory appreciated by more people.

o       That’s what we’re praying when we pray, “Thy kingdom come.”

o       That’s what the Westminster Catechism means when it says our life purpose is “to glorify God.”

o       Jesus not only raised that girl in order to show compassion to her and to her family, but also to glorify His father in heaven:

o       John 14:13 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified...”

o       2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will… fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified...

o       2 Thessalonians 3:1  Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;

o       Blessed are the lips that pass along these stories about Jesus so that more people will trust in Jesus and glorify God!


1.      The power which Jesus displays crescendos from the gynecological disorder of a grown woman to the resurrection of a little girl. Jesus’ power is absolute to do anything that is impossible for us, so let us be like the synagogue president and the hemorrhaging woman and take our problems to God in prayer. Pray like Jairus did, “Put your hand on [this] and [it] will live!”

2.      Take courage and exercise faith. Don’t be caught dead in the practical crowd that laughs at Jesus’ statement of the impossible. Keep telling yourself, “If only I can take this to Jesus, then I will see deliverance,” and keep doing that until you hear Him say, “your faith has saved you.”

3.      Spread the fame of Jesus. Who can you tell this story to? What other stories you can tell about what God did for you when you trusted Him? Let us be witnesses who contribute to God’s bottom line of more people glorifying Him!

[1] Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Family 13, and pre-Vulgate Latin versions read proselthwn

[2] thugater – daughter –  Unlike the word chosen by the Roman centurion to describe his boy, this word chosen by the Jewish ruler focuses on the girl as his descendant rather than on her gender (koresion – which Jesus and Matthew use in vs. 24-25), age (technon, paidia) or marital status (parthenon, gune).

[3] The Westcott & Hort critical text spells this word in the Aorist tense according to the reading of Siniaticus and two 5th Century manuscripts (C&D), but the Greek texts are agreed that the verb is singular, despite the plural subjects “Jesus… and his disciples.”

[4] This is the only place in Matthew where swzw is used to indicate a physical healing, but is one of 7 events in the NT where swzw is used to mean a physical healing (Matt. 9:21-22; Mark 5:23-28; 5:34; 10:52; Luke 8:36-50; 17:19; 18:42; Acts 4:9; 14:9; 1Cor. 1:21). The other 95 instances of swzw in the NT have to do with deliverance from death, sin, and hell.

[5] According to Nestle-Aland, the Majority of Greek manuscripts have this prefix, but if you only count manuscripts dating earlier than the 10th century, there are over 100 that don’t have the prefix and 4 which do have the prefix (C, L,W,and Θ). It doesn’t significantly change the meaning anyway.

[6] The majority of the oldest manuscripts record this verb in the Imperfect tense (א,B,D plus f1, f13, and pre-vulgate Latin version), which I interpret as “he started saying over and over” – not significantly different from the present tense legei autois found in the Textus Receptus, Majority, and Patriarchal Greek texts. Jesus’ ensuing command, anachwreite is the same used to describe the Magi’s departure from the country by another way and Joseph’s evacuation of his family to Egypt in Matt. 2:12-14, and also Jesus’ withdrawal from Jordan to Galilee in 4:12.

[7] Gen_38:23; 2Ch_30:10; Job_5:22; Job_9:23; Job_21:3; Job_30:1; Job_39:7; Job_39:18-22; Job_41:29; Psa_25:2; Pro_17:5; Pro_29:9; Pro_30:17; Mic_3:7

[8] The passive form of the word here also has a curious property of being able to be translated actively or passively. I have chosen to translate it passively because it is spelled passively, because it is grammatically possible in Greek to state it actively (and thus not necessary to spell it passively), because the context supports a passive “she was raised by Jesus,” and because it focuses the cause of her resurrection on Christ, but I do not imply that every instance where this word is spelled passively should necessarily be translated into English as a passive.

[9] Rare word found only here, Prov. 15:30 and Luke 4:14.