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Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Gospel
MATTHEW 9:18-26
The Ruler's Daughter Raised.
18 While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. 19 And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. 20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: 21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. 22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. 23 And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, 24 He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. 25 But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. 26 And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land. 

We have here two passages of history put together; that of the raising of Jairus's daughter to life, and that of the curing of the woman that had the bloody issue, as he was going to Jairus's house, which is introduced in a parenthesis, in the midst of the other; for Christ's miracles were thick sown, and interwoven; the work of him that sent him was his daily work. He was called to do these good works from speaking the things foregoing, in answer to the cavils of the Pharisees, v. 18: While he spake these things; and we may suppose it is a pleasing interruption given to that unpleasant work of disputation, which, though sometimes needful, a good man will gladly leave, to go about a work of devotion or charity. Here is,

I. The ruler's address to Christ, v. 18. A certain ruler, a ruler of the synagogue, came and worshipped him. Have any of the rulers believed on him? Yes, here was one, a church ruler, whose faith condemned the unbelief of the rest of the rulers. This ruler had a little daughter, of twelve years old, just dead, and this breach made upon his family comforts was the occasion of his coming to Christ. Note, In trouble we should visit God: the death of our relations should drive us to Christ, who is our life; it is well if any thing will do it. When affliction is in our families, we must not sit down astonished, but, as Job, fall down and worship. Now observe,

1. His humility in this address to Christ. He came with his errand to Christ himself, and did not send his servant. Note, It is no disparagement to the greatest rulers, personally to attend on the Lord Jesus. He worshipped him, bowed the knee to him, and gave him all imaginable respect. Note, They that would receive mercy from Christ must give honour to Christ.

2. His faith in this address; "My daughter is even now dead," and though any other physician would now come too late (nothing more absurd than post mortem medicina--medicine after death), yet Christ comes not too late; he is a Physician after death, for he is the resurrection and the life; "O come then, and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live." This was quite above the power of nature (a privatione ad habitum non datur regressus--life once lost cannot be restored), yet within the power of Christ, who has life in himself, and quickeneth whom he will. Now Christ works in an ordinary, by nature and not against it, and, therefore, we cannot in faith bring him such a request as this; while there is life, there is hope, and room for prayer; but when our friends are dead, the case is determined; we shall go to them, but they shall not return to us. But while Christ was here upon earth working miracles, such a confidence as this was not only allowable but very commendable.

II. The readiness of Christ to comply with his address, v. 19. Jesus immediately arose, left his company, and followed him; he was not only willing to grant him what he desired, in raising his daughter to life, but to gratify him so far as to come to his house to do it. Surely he never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain. He denied to go along with the nobleman, who said, Sir, come down, ere my child die (John iv. 48-50), yet he went along with the ruler of the synagogue, who said, Sir, come down, and my child shall live. The variety of methods which Christ took in working his miracles is perhaps to be attributed to the different frame and temper of mind which they were in who applied to him, which he who searcheth the heart perfectly knew, and accommodated himself to. He knows what is in man, and what course to take with him. And observe, when Jesus followed him, so did his disciples, whom he had chosen for his constant companions; it was not for state, or that he might come with observation, that he took his attendants with him, but that they might be the witnesses of his miracles, who were hereafter to be the preachers of his doctrine.

III. The healing of the poor woman's bloody issue. I call her a poor woman, not only because her case was piteous, but because, she had spent it all upon physicians, for the cure of her distemper, and was never the better; which was a double aggravation of the misery of her condition, that she had been full, but was now empty; and that she had impoverished herself for the recovery of her health, and yet had not her health neither. This woman was diseased with a constant issue of blood twelve years (v. 20); a disease, which was not only weakening and wasting, and under which the body must needs languish; but which also rendered her ceremonially unclean, and shut her out from the courts of the Lord's house; but it did not cut her off from approaching to Christ. She applied herself to Christ, and received mercy from him, by the way, as he followed the ruler, whose daughter was dead, to whom it would be a great encouragement, and a help to keep up his faith in the power of Christ. So graciously does Christ consider the frame, and consult the case, of weak believers. Observe,

1. The woman's great faith in Christ, and in his power. Her disease was of such a nature, that her modesty would not suffer her to speak openly to Christ for a cure, as others did, but by a peculiar impulse of the Spirit of faith, she believed him to have such an overflowing fulness of healing virtue, that the very touch of his garment would be her cure. This, perhaps, had something of fancy mixed with faith; for she had no precedent for this way of application to Christ, unless, as some think, she had an eye to the raising of the dead man by the touch of Elisha's bones, 2 Kings xiii. 21. But what weakness of understanding there was in it, Christ was pleased to overlook, and to accept the sincerity and strength of her faith; for he eateth the honey-comb with the honey, Cant. iv. 11. She believed she should be healed if she did but touch the very hem of his garment, the very extremity of it. Note, There is virtue in every thing that belongs to Christ. The holy oil with which the high priest was anointed, ran down to the skirts of his garments, Ps. cxxxiii. 2. Such a fulness of grace is there in Christ, that from it we may all receive, John i. 16.

2. Christ's great favour to this woman. He did not suspend (as he might have done) his healing influences, but suffered this bashful patient to steal a cure unknown to any one else, though she could not think to do it unknown to him. And now she was well content to be gone, for she had what she came for, but Christ was not willing to let he to so; he will not only have his power magnified in her cure, but his grace magnified in her comfort and commendation: the triumphs of her faith must be to her praise and honour. He turned about to see for her (v. 22), and soon discovered her. Note, It is great encouragement to humble Christians, that they who hide themselves from men are known to Christ, who sees in secret their applications to heaven when most private. Now here,
(1.) He puts gladness into her heart, by that word, Daughter, be of good comfort. She feared being chidden for coming clandestinely, but she is encouraged. [1.] He calls her daughter, for he spoke to her with the tenderness of a father, as he did to the man sick of the palsy (v. 2), whom he called son. Note, Christ has comforts ready for the daughters of Zion, that are of a sorrowful spirit, as Hannah was, 1 Sam. i. 15. Believing women are Christ's daughters, and he will own them as such. [2.] He bids her be of good comfort: she has reason to be so, if Christ own her for a daughter. Note, The saints' consolation is founded in their adoption. His bidding her be comforted, brought comfort with it, as his saying, Be ye whole, brought health with it. Note, It is the will of Christ that his people should be comforted, and it is his prerogative to command comfort to troubled spirits. He creates the fruit of the lips, peace, Isa. lvii. 19.

(2.) He puts honour upon her faith. That grace of all others gives most honour to Christ, and therefore he puts most honour upon it; Thy faith has made thee whole. Thus by faith she obtained a good report. And as of all graces Christ puts the greatest honour upon faith, so of all believers he puts the greatest honour upon those that are most humble; as here on this woman, who had more faith than she thought she had. She had reason to be of good comfort, not only because she was made whole, but because her faith had made her whole; that is, [1.] She was spiritually healed; that cure was wrought in her which is the proper fruit and effect of faith, the pardon of sin and the work of grace. Note, We may then be abundantly comforted in our temporal mercies when they are accompanied with those spiritual blessings that resemble them; our food and raiment will be comfortable, when by faith we are fed with the bread of life, and clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ; our rest and sleep will be comfortable, when by faith we repose in God, and dwell at ease in him; our health and prosperity will be comfortable, when by faith our souls prosper, and are in health. See Isa. xxxviii. 16, 17. [2.] Her bodily cure was the fruit of faith, of her faith, and that made it a happy, comfortable cure indeed. They out of whom the devils were cast, were helped by Christ's sovereign power; some by the faith of others (as v. 2); but it is thy faith that has made thee whole. Note, Temporal mercies are then comforts indeed to us, when they are received by faith. If, when in pursuit of mercy, we prayed for it in faith, with an eye to the promise, and in dependence upon that, if we desired it for the sake of God's glory, and with a resignation to God's will, and have our hearts enlarged by it in faith, love, and obedience, we may then say, it was received by faith.

IV. The posture in which he found the ruler's house, v. 23. --He saw the people and the minstrels, or musicians, making a noise. The house was in a hurry: such work does death make, when it comes into a family; and, perhaps, the necessary cares that arise at such a time, when our dead is to be decently buried out of our sight, give some useful diversion to that grief which is apt to prevail and play the tyrant. The people in the neighbourhood came together to condole on account of the loss, to comfort the parents, to prepare for, and attend on, the funeral, which the Jews were not wont to defer long. The musicians were among them, according to the custom of the Gentiles, with their doleful, melancholy tunes, to increase the grief, and stir up the lamentations of those that attended on this occasion; as (they say) is usual among the Irish, with their Ahone, Ahone. Thus they indulged a passion that is apt enough of itself to grow intemperate, and affected to sorrow as those that had no hope. See how religion provides cordials, where irreligion administers corrosives. Heathenism aggravates that grief which Christianity studies to assuage. Or perhaps these musicians endeavoured on the other hand to divert the grief and exhilarate the family; but, as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that sings songs to a heavy heart. Observe, The parents, who were immediately touched with the affliction, were silent, while the people and minstrels, whose lamentations were forced, made such a noise. Note, The loudest grief is not always the greatest; rivers are most noisy where they run shallow. Ille dolet vere, qui sine teste dolet--That grief is most sincere, which shuns observation. But notice is taken of this, to show that the girl was really dead, in the undoubted apprehension of all about her.

V. The rebuke that Christ gave to this hurry and noise, v. 24. He said, Give place. Note, Sometimes, when the sorrow of the world prevails, it is difficult for Christ and his comforts to enter. They that harden themselves in sorrow, and, like Rachel, refuse to be comforted, should think they hear Christ saying to their disquieting thoughts, Give place: "Make room for him who is the Consolation of Israel, and brings with him strong consolations, strong enough to overcome the confusion and tyranny of these worldly griefs, if he may but be admitted into the soul." He gives a good reason why they should not thus disquiet themselves and one another; The maid is not dead but sleepeth. 

1. This was eminently true of this maid, that was immediately to be raised to life; she was really dead, but not so to Christ, who knew within himself what he would do, and could do, and who had determined to make her death but as a sleep. There is little more difference between sleep and death, but in continuance; whatever other difference there is, it is but a dream. This death must be but of short continuance, and therefore is but a sleep, like one night's rest. He that quickens the dead, may well call the things which be not as though they were, Rom. iv. 17. 

2. It is in a sense true of all that die, chiefly of them that die in the Lord. Note, 
(1.) Death is a sleep. All nations and languages, for the softening of that which is so dreadful, and withal so unavoidable, and the reconciling of themselves to it, have agreed to call it so. It is said, even of the wicked kings, that they slept with their fathers; and of those that shall arise to everlasting contempt, that they sleep in the dust, Dan. xii. 2. It is not the sleep of the soul; its activity ceases not; but the sleep of the body, which lies down in the grave, still and silent, regardless and disregarded, wrapt up in darkness and obscurity. Sleep is a short death, and death a long sleep. But the death of the righteous is in a special manner to be looked upon as a sleep, Isa. lvii. 2. They sleep in Jesus (1 Thess. iv. 14); they not only rest from the toils and labours of the day, but rest in hope of a joyful waking again in the morning of the resurrection, when they shall wake refreshed, wake to a new life, wake to be richly dressed and crowned, and wake to sleep no more. 
(2.) The consideration of this should moderate our grief at the death of our dear relations: "say not, They are lost; no, they are but gone before: say not, They are slain; no, they are but fallen asleep; and the apostle speaks of it as an absurd thing to imagine that they that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished (1 Cor. xv. 18); give place, therefore, to those comforts which the covenant of grace ministers, fetched from the future state, and the glory to be revealed."  Now could it be thought that such a comfortable word as this, from the mouth of our Lord Jesus, should be ridiculed as it was? They laughed him to scorn. These people lived in Capernaum, knew Christ's character, that he never spake a rash or foolish word; they knew how many mighty works he had done; so that if they did not understand what he meant by this, they might at least have been silent in expectation of the issue. Note, The words and works of Christ which cannot be understood, yet are not therefore to be despised. We must adore the mystery of divine sayings, even when they seem to contradict what we think ourselves most confident of. Yet even this tended to the confirmation of the miracle: for it seems she was so apparently dead, that it was thought a very ridiculous thing to say otherwise.

VI. The raising of the damsel to life by the power of Christ, v. 25. The people were put forth. Note, Scorners that laugh at what they see and hear that is above their capacity, are not proper witnesses of the wonderful works of Christ, the glory of which lies not in pomp, but in power. The widow's son at Nain, and Lazarus, were raised from the dead openly, but this damsel privately; for Capernaum, that had slighted the lesser miracles of restoring health, was unworthy to see the greater, of restoring life; these pearls were not to be cast before those that would trample them under their feet.

Christ went in and took her by the hand, as it were to awake her, and to help her up, prosecuting his own metaphor of her being asleep. The high priest, that typified Christ, was not to come near the dead (Lev. xxi. 10, 11), but Christ touched the dead. The Levitical priesthood leaves the dead in their uncleanness, and therefore keeps at a distance from them, because it cannot remedy them; but Christ, having power to raise the dead, is above the infection, and therefore is not shy of touching them. He took her by the hand, and the maid arose. So easily, so effectually was the miracle wrought; not by prayer, as Elijah did (1 Kings xvii. 21), and Elisha (2 Kings iv. 33), but by a touch. They did it as servants, he as a Son, as a God, to whom belong the issues from death. Note, Jesus Christ is the Lord of souls, he commands them forth, and commands them back, when and as he pleases. Dead souls are not raised to spiritual life, unless Christ take them by the hand: it is done in the day of his power. He helps us up, or we lie still.

VII. The general notice that was taken of this miracle, though it was wrought privately; v. 26. The fame thereof went abroad into all that land: it was the common subject of discourse. Note, Christ's works are more talked of than considered and improved. And doubtless, they that heard only the report of Christ's miracles, were accountable for that as well as they that were eye-witnesses of them. Though we at this distance have not seen Christ's miracles, yet having an authentic history of them, we are bound, upon the credit of that, to receive his doctrine; and blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed, John xx. 29.