MATTHEW 9:19-21
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Matt. 9:19 “And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.”

Hearing Jairus’ plight, Jesus rose from Matthew’s banquet table and sprang into action. The disciples in hot pursuit is not trivia. Their seeing Jesus’ miracles firsthand is what makes their writings a dependable witness, even to our day.
Jesus responded as if He were Jairus’ servant. Our Master humbly yielded His precious time to help, even though the religious leader belonged to a group that opposed Jesus. Christ did not practice guilt by association. He refused to hold a grudge or to condemn Jairus solely because of the group he represented.
Jesus, seeing a need He could help, felt compelled to do something about it. His promptness is consolation. Our Lord is eager to help. In the middle of a party, at a moment’s notice, He left to sympathize with the suffering. In the middle of class, He left a lecture behind. This Teacher had to act. For some speakers, words and deeds live far apart, but Jesus quickly left scholars behind for the afflicted.
Jesus was and is willing to be interrupted. He never considered a plea for help an annoyance. Some of His greatest miracles resulted from interruptions. The centurion interrupted Jesus, as did blind Bartimaeus and Jairus. In each case, Jesus took time to minister. In our weekly planning, we aren’t wise enough to see in advance every deed God wants us to do. We have to build margin into our lives to allow God room to work through us in ways unforeseen by us. We must be willing to go out of our way, to be imposed upon, to respond to the unexpected. On any day, interruptions are often the best opportunity we are given to be a blessing.

We will never be effective for God until willing to be interrupted. Philip was experiencing revival in Samaria, but had to be willing to be interrupted to go to Gaza to win the Ethiopian Eunuch. Paul was headed to Asia, but had to be willing to be interrupted to enter Europe. You and I are beneficiaries of that detour.
Of any interruption, the old question is still worthy of being asked. Is this a disappointment or His appointment? Most of life follows the ordinary course of events, but be prayerfully prepared to recognize and receive divine interventions.

Matt. 9:20a “And, behold,. . .”

To further complicate things, Jesus’ interruption will now be interrupted. “We never go on an errand of mercy but we pass a hundred other sorrowing hearts, so close packed lie the griefs of men” (Maclaren). If we are not helping people everywhere everyday in every interaction, we are blindly insensitive. Everybody we meet needs a blessing of some kind. Open your spiritual eyes. Be willing to be hurt so that others may be helped. Even if we have only seconds with another, pray that somehow in those moments we shall give the person more than we take.

Matt. 9:20b “. . .a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve
years, came behind him,. . .”

Note the contrast. Jairus had spent his last twelve years enjoying happiness with his daughter, but this lady had endured twelve years of misery and ostracism.
She suffered continual hemorrhaging, unending menstruation, probably due to a tumor. Her illness would have been as socially crippling as leprosy. Ceremonially unclean (see LV 15:19-33), she was barred from temple and synagogue, and could not visit in anyone’s home, for everything and everyone she touched became unclean. Even marital intimacy was virtually impossible for her. For 12 years she had been trapped in a pit of loneliness, imprisoned in an abyss of embarrassment.
Normally she would have been nowhere near this crowd. If anyone recognized her, she would immediately be rebuffed and repulsed, but desperation had taken over. She chose to act quickly and quietly, to approach Jesus clandestinely.
She will sneak up behind the two men. She wants to make sure neither Jesus nor Jairus will see her. She certainly did not want to catch Jairus’ attention, much less dare to stop him. Any face-to-face encounter with the Chief Elder would have been humiliating. Synagogue was his life, but she had not attended in over a decade. Also, her illness would have made him horrified to be near her.
She didn’t want to stop Jesus either. The timing was not good. He was in a hurry. Suffering is often selfish, but she would not inconvenience Jesus. Also, even if He stopped, she was too ashamed to discuss her illness in front of a crowd.
She had to overcome serious obstacles to be blessed by Jesus. Barriers ever hinder our path to Jesus. The devil provides impediments aplenty–pet sins, hypocrites, guilt, no perceived need, busy-ness, procrastination–but this lady reminds us Jesus can be reached if we try. Any separation is ever our fault, never His.

Matt. 9:20c “. . .and touched the hem of his garment:”

She was banking on history. In Israel miracles of healing had often entailed contact between a healer and the sick. Elijah raised the widow’s son by touching him (1 K 17:21). Elisha raised the Shunammite boy to life by touching him (2 K 4:35). Jesus had healed a leper by touching him, and had healed Peter’s mother-in-law’s fever by touching her (MT 8:3,15). Processing this data, the bleeding lady drew what she deemed a logical conclusion. She decided the sick touching the healer might be equal to the healer touching the sick. She felt too unclean to ask to be touched by Jesus, but thought maybe she could touch Him, and be healed.
Her goal was to touch the most accessible part of Christ’s clothing, one of the tassels hanging from the four corners of His shawl. Israelites were commanded in the Old Testament to wear tassels on their outer garments to remind them continually of God’s commandments (NB 15:37-41; DT 22:12). In times of persecution, these tassels have been worn on undergarments, and are now usually seen on prayer-shawls. Touching a tassel would have provided this lady the least degree of contact with Jesus, and was thus her best chance of remaining unnoticed.
These tassels were considered sacred. The one she reached for would have been small, but it contained her every dream, her best hope, her last chance. She reached for it with all she had in her. Her whole soul was in the touch, because. . .

Matt. 9:21 “For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I
shall be whole.”

She had not only heard the stories of Jesus’ healings. She believed them. Her musings led her to reverence Him so highly that she believed even His clothes were saturated with healing energy. Her basic premise was right. Jesus truly was an infinite reservoir of health, able to cure anyone anywhere anytime of anything.
Spurgeon said, the cup of our Lord’s power was full–full to the brim–and He was bearing it to Jairus’ house. This lady believed some of this power could be intended for her. She saw an abundant supply and decided she would partake of some of it. Shouldn’t you do the same? Millions, yea billions, have drunk at this fountain of life, yet the supply is diminished not one whit. Look around. People all around you have tasted of the Lord’s goodness. He offers it freely, graciously, generously. Your only required task is but to repent, to believe, and to receive.