In Matthew chapter 8, we read several accounts of Christ healing people of various ills. Some people teach, wrongly, that supernatural healing is normative for Christians and cite Christ’s healing ministry as proof that physical freedom from sickness is somehow part of the atonement. However, the evidence in scripture, not to mention the life experience of millions of Christians living and dead all over the world proves quite the opposite. Because of the effects of sin, our bodies and this world are both corrupted and therefore subject to disease and death. However, during His ministry on earth, Christ healed people not just to demonstrate compassion on them and certainly not to allow them to live their “best life now”. Rather, the primary reason was to be obedient to God and demonstrate that when He claimed deity, He wasn’t just making stuff up—it was true and the miracles were the proof.
As we come to our text in Matthew 9, we need to keep those truths in focus as we attempt to interpret the text. What Matthew is teaching us here is not that, as Christians, we will never get sick. Rather, he intends for us to understand that Jesus is God and as God can do things only God can do. The fact that people knew He was able to do these things is pretty evident. While He was correcting some misconceptions on the part of the Pharisees and John’s disciples (Matthew 9:11-17), He was approached by a leader of the local synagogue whose daughter was close to death (Matthew 9:18). Now, Matthew just gives us the general details about the scene—the man came to Jesus, worshipped Him (“knelt”—proskyneō 4352) and begged Jesus to come heal his daughter. Mark and Luke fill in the details for us as they did in Matthew 8:5-12. The man’s name is Jairus and his daughter was on the verge of death. Matthew records that the synagogue leader says his daughter “has just died”, but the English translation doesn’t really do the Greek justice—it could just as easily mean “by this time she must have died”.
Now, remember when Jesus healed the centurions servant, the Roman soldier refused to allow Jesus to come to his home, He claimed he was unworthy and cited Jesus’ authority in the matter. “If I have authority over soldiers, I don’t have to be present to make sure something is done. Likewise, since I recognize your authority over disease, I know you don’t have to be present for the disease to obey you” he essentially said. The man, who was considered a “dog” to Jewish people, had faith enough to trust Christ to heal his servant.
Observe here (Matthew 9:18), this man who knew God, knew the scriptures, and apparently recognized Jesus as able to heal His child, or else why would he have risked his position in Jewish religious life to call on Him, came to Jesus, worshipped Him, but needed Him to come to where the girl was dying so that He could heal her. He didn’t have the faith to believe that Christ could just speak, where they were, and heal his little girl.
However, this lack of faith doesn’t dissuade Christ. Out of His love, compassion, and obedience to His Father, Jesus agrees to go and brings His disciples with Him. As we read this and contemplate on the situation and Christ’s response, we should be touched by the compassion that Christ shows here and elsewhere for those who are sick and hurting. We should also be thankful that even when our faith is weak and we find it hard to trust Christ, Christ still loves us and accepts us where we are. He truly is our faithful High Priest.
Unless otherwise noted, scripture is taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2007