Matthew 9:18–26: Salvation for Desperate People
After Jesus first demonstrated his authority as a teacher (Matt. 7:29), Jesus has continued to demonstrate his authority in a variety of ways. Additionally, Jesus has shown his authority to cleanse the unclean, to heal the sick, to call disciples, to calm the storm, to cast out demons, and to forgive sinners. Only when Jesus ate and drank with the tax collects and sinners, though, did we catch a glimpse of Jesus’ willingness to do all this, when he said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:13). Still, does this mission straddle Jesus with a burden that he would prefer not to carry? In Matthew 9:18–26, we catch our fullest glimpse (so far) of the eager love of Jesus. In three compassionate interactions, we see that Jesus came to save desperate people.
1. What is Jesus doing when the “ruler” comes to him (v. 18)? What kind of position would this ruler have held? How has his daughter’s sickness and death humbled him from his high position? What clues does Matthew give us to evaluate the faith of this ruler, especially in contrast with the faith of the centurion (Matt. 8:5–13)? What speaks positively, and what negatively? How does Matthew characterize Jesus’ response to this humbled man?
2. What is Jesus doing when the woman with the discharge of blood touches him (v. 20)? What did the Law say about a women who suffered this kind of medical condition (Lev. 15:25–30)? What warnings did the Law give concerning the implications toward the tabernacle (Lev. 15:31)? How, though, does Jesus respond to this hopeless woman? How does the faith of this woman relate to the salvation that she receives?
3. When Jesus finally arrives at the home of the ruler, who else is there (v. 23)? Why does Jesus tell them to leave (v. 24)? What does Jesus mean when he says that the girl is only sleeping (v. 24)? How does the laughter of the mourners confirm that this girl is truly dead (v. 24; cf. John 11:11, 14)? Why does Jesus touch the girl to raise her from the dead, when he previously praised the centurion for believing that he could heal someone from afar?
4. What do we learn here about the eagerness and willingness of Jesus to save desperate people? Are you more prone to doubt the ability or the willingness of Jesus to save you? How has Matthew demonstrated Jesus’ competence and compassion so far? Would you characterize yourself as humbled, hopeless, or helpless, or in another position entirely? How do you think that Jesus relates to you where you are right now?