A Tale of Two Daughters

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Good Morning and Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers with us this morning. Now it may seem strange to have a woman sharing a Father’s Day message. After all I am not and will never be a father. I can observe dads and see what they do but I will never know what it means to be a dad.

Something I do know about though is being a daughter. This morning we will be looking at a tale of two daughters. One daughter is a twelve-year-old child, the apple of her father’s eye. She is an only child and her father holds an important position in the community. There is no doubt in my mind that her father spared no expense in providing her with the things she needed. She probably wore the finest dresses and had ribbons for her hair. I assume she had a nanny and a private tutor. Since our story takes place 2000 years ago, I also expect that her father had begun laying aside some funds for her dowry.

The other daughter in our story is an older woman. I suspect that she is widowed and that her parents have long ago passed. Either she doesn’t have children or they are grown and have moved away so there is no one really to take care of her. At one time she too was the apple of her father’s eye and had had substantial wealth but when we meet her it is all gone.

Turn with me to Matt 9.

When you reported to work on the first day of your new job how important was it for you to pay attention? Very.

When the boss took you for a tour of the building or showed you which key opened which door, or gave you a code for the copier, or showed you where the emergency shut-off button was for the machine you were operating; did you pay attention or did you just let him talk? You paid attention.

Quick question, who wrote the book of Matthew? Matthew.

These events take place right after Jesus calls Matthew to be a Disciple (verse 9 tells us that.) Matthew hadn’t been traveling the countryside with Jesus. He probably heard about the miracles Jesus performed, but this may be the first time he saw them for himself.

We know that after his calling Matthew invited Jesus and those traveling with him to his house for dinner. Afterwards they were criticized both by the Pharisees & John’s disciples for not only talking with tax collectors & sinners, but for eating with them.

Picture yourself, 1st day on the new job, and someone is raking your new boss over the coals for having hired you and then for having lunch with you. I’ll bet you’d be curious to see what he has to say. Now Matthew is listening intently as Jesus put his criticizers in their place when someone interrupts the conversation. If it were me, I’d want to know what was so important. Who was this man?

Matthew 9:18

18 While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him

Now this just isn’t any man. He’s an official in the synagogue, highly respected by the people of the village. He hadn’t been invited to the dinner at Matthew’s house. But he made his way to Jesus none-the-less. His entrance must have cause quite a stir because Jesus stopped speaking. Then this man, Jairus by name, did something totally out of protocol. He bowed low in an act of reverence to Jesus.

What would cause such an important man to humble himself like that in front of a large group of people?

18b [he] said, “My daughter has just died.

If we look at the parallel reference in Mark 5:21 it says his daughter was at the point of death.

Now this isn’t an example of two verses in the Bible contradicting each other.

If we were to translate the Greek we would find that Matthew tells the story using verbs in the past tense. After all he was there. He’s recording his memories. Mark wrote in the present tense. He wasn’t there. We also know that Mark’s readers were going through persecution at the time.  He wrote in the present tense so his readers can identify with what’s going on. The accounts don’t contradict each other. The bottom line is that his daughter was really sick, probably in a coma.

18c But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 

Why would he say such a thing? I suspect that as president of the synagogue he had heard quite a bit about Jesus.J The Jews of this time had a long tradition of rules and regulations regarding illness and cleanliness. If someone had suffered from an illness or disease he had to be separated from the rest of the people so as not to spread the contagion.

When a person’s health returned, the law required that he present himself to the priests who would certify that person clean. Then and only then could he interact with the rest of the community.

Jairus had probably heard how Jesus had healed before. Maybe he was the one who certified some of them clean. Maybe someone had told him that Jesus put his hand on them and they were healed. The bottom line was that his little girl was sick and what ever it took, he was going to do all he could to get her well again. If that meant that he had to humble himself and beg this man to come and touch her, he was going to do it.

19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

I doubt very much that we are talking about just Jesus and the twelve. We know that besides those Matthew had invited to dinner, Pharisees & John’s disciples had come to question Jesus. And since they had to walk to Jairus’ house, chances are that many more people joined the parade on the way.

20 Just then a woman

In the same way Jairus interrupted Jesus as he was defending his association with tax collectors & sinners, someone or something interrupted Jesus’ journey to Jairus’ house.

Can you imagine what was going through Jairus’ mind right then? I imagine that he had just taken a deep breath, and his worry had turned to hope. Jesus was surely going to heal his little girl. Yes everything was going to be all right and then, what’s this? Why is He stopping? He can’t be stopping.

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. 

Just like Jairus this woman had obviously heard about Jesus.

But she couldn’t just walk up to him the way Jairus did. She was one of those unclean people they kept on the fringe of society. She had been an outcast for twelve years -- the same amount of time as Jairus daughter had lived in health.[1]

Turn to the parallel reference in Mark 5:26 and lets fill in more details.

26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

This woman probably pulled her scarf down to hide her face and blended in with the crowd. She wouldn’t dare call attention to herself especially with Jairus in attendance. Stealthily she had made her way to Jesus. Then she reached out and caught the hem of his garment. Instantly she was healed. She knew it, but she dare not cry out. She had violated the law, she had come into the village an unclean outcast and had mingled with the people; for that she could be stoned.

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?” 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Returning to Matt 9:22,

22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.

I believe a better interpretation of that phase would read, “And the woman was restored at that moment.” That is, she was put in right standing with the community in the presence of the president of the synagogue. Jesus declared her healed. She was no longer an outcast, but once again a daughter of Israel.

23 When Jesus entered the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd,

By the time the crowd reached Jairus home, the flute players and mourners had already arrived. Maybe one of those doctors who couldn’t help the woman had declared the little girl dead. A servant approached Jairus and told him he was too late.

As a parent who has lost a child, I can attest to feelings of guilt that accompany grief. If only been more attentive; If only I had been more cautious; If only I had been a better parent this wouldn’t have happened. 

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

with her parents, Peter, James, and John.

and took the girl by the hand, and she got up.

Mark says that, They were overcome with excitement. (Mark 5:43). I can picture that. I can picture this little girl dancing with her daddy as tears of joy trickle down his cheeks.

But our story is not over yet. Look at the last verse 26.

26 News of this spread through all that region.

Have you ever stopped to consider who spread the news?

In preparing this message I realized for the first time the significance of that verse.

Ø    The mourners and the musicians had been put out.

Ø    Had the crowd been sent away too?

Ø    Surely Jairus had the authority to have the temple guards disperse the crowd.

Who then could have spread the news that Jesus had healed the little girl? Only Jairus.

We never hear about Jairus after this point. If it was him that spread the testimony of his daughter’s healing than he was probably discharged from his office in the synagogue. He may even have been convicted of sympathizing with Jesus over the Sanhedrin. The point is that this father was willing to do anything to see his child well. There was no cost too great for her health and well-being.

Both Jairus and the woman in this passage believed that Jesus could heal sickness and disease. And both were willing to place themselves in a position to receive healing. No matter the cost involved, whether that was ridicule, persecution or even death, they were willing to trust God.

How about you? Are you willing to trust God?

I can remember as a child the scene of my father coming home from work at the end of the day. He was an electrical engineer and worked in downtown Chicago. To a child on the city’s south side, downtown seemed like a magical place. When my father came through the door each night he was greeted with five of my favorite words, “What did you bring me?”

Then he would stick his hands deep in his pockets, fish around and pull out two clenched fists which he would promptly hide behind his back and say, “Which hand?”

After giggles and an occasional wrong choice (empty hand), I would walk away with some trinket he had procured from a gumball machine on his lunch hour.

It really didn’t matter what he gave me. All that was important to this little girl was that her Daddy thought enough about her during his busy day to bring her home a gift. I think I was about 7 when the game stopped. He might have told me I was too old to play, but the truth is he had lost his job.

Unlike my dad’s supply of blessings, God’s supply doesn’t run out. You don’t have to guess which hand contains His blessing. God doesn’t play games. He doesn’t have a trinket for you or an empty hand either. You will never be too old or too young to receive.

But there is a catch: you have to ask, you have to believe, and you have put yourself in the place to receive.

Turn to Matt 7.

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.            8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

John put it this way,

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. (John 15:7).

This may require you to step out in front of those who will criticize. But don’t loose heart. Your Heavenly father loves you. He wants you well. He wants you whole. And above all else He wants you to put your trust in Him.

So on this Father’s Day, June 18, 2006, I appeal to all you fathers, daughters, and sons. God is the God of restoration. In the same way he restored health and wholeness to the daughters in today’s lesson. He can restore health and wholeness to you.


[1] Donald A. Hagner, Word Bible Commentary, Vol 33A, Matthew 1-13, (Dallas: Word Books, 1993).

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