Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 9:22a “But Jesus turned him about,. . .”
Uh oh, this was not a part of her plan. She had intended to steal away as secretly as she had come. Having received what she came for, she started to sink back into the crowd unnoticed, but got caught. Jesus did not protect her privacy.
He revealed her before a huge crowd which, due to her ritual uncleanness, contained many cold and cruel eyes. Thus, the question is, why didn’t Jesus leave her alone, and let her healing remain a secret? Our text offers several clues.
Matt. 9:22b “. . .and when he saw her, he said, Daughter,. . .”
First, Jesus revealed her in order to love her. As she approached Jesus, she was thinking of a lifeless effluence which emanated from Him, not of a loving will that desired to bless and help. This error had to be corrected. People must know not only of God’s power, but also of His love. We do need to hold God in high esteem–He truly is holy, separate, high, lifted up–but we must not deem Him aloof.
“Daughter” was an endearing term of tenderness and affection. It emphasized relationship. She may have been ostracized by her family and friends, but Jesus made her His family and friend. Loneliness is terrible. Years ago I read of a lady who committed suicide in her apartment. Her body was found days later, when neighbors reported a foul odor. The authorities found in her diary the same entry written day after day, “No one came today.” When Dad’s sister was going through the midnight of her divorce, he comforted her by saying, “You will have to let Jesus be your husband.” The concept helped her, and can help us. Jesus is willing to fill the need we all have for close companionship. He is ever nearby.
Feeling unwanted and unimportant is one of life’s most agonizing experiences. Occasionally we all need for someone to stop, focus on us, and give us undivided, loving attention. That’s exactly what Jesus did for this woman. For one brief, beautiful moment, it was as if no one but her existed on the planet.
We often forget the infinite worth and importance of each human being. When Titanic sank, the newspaper “The American” devoted its headline entirely to the death of millionaire John Jacob Astor. The fact 1800 others may have perished was mentioned down in the article, in small print. The millionaire mattered, the 1800 didn’t. This never happens with God. For Jesus, no one is ever lost in the crowd. He always takes time to love others and make them feel special. Do we?
Matt. 9:22c “. . .be of good comfort;. . .”
Second, Jesus revealed her in order to celebrate with her. He wanted her to know she had made Him happy. Healing her was no burden or inconvenience. Jesus rejoiced to help someone in need and wanted to share the moment with her. Christ felt healing energy leave His body, but the flow caused pleasure, not pain.
Jesus was letting her know it’s okay. There was no need to slither away, as if she had stolen something. She had every right to enjoy the benefits of her faith. It was time to celebrate. She no longer needed to be ashamed, for her story ended well. Once we have been made whole, it no longer matters what our sickness was. Don’t wallow in the mire and memory of past sins. Instead, celebrate deliverance.
Matt. 9:22d “. . .thy faith. . .”
Third, Jesus revealed her in order to honor God. Faith, rightly understood, puts all glory on God. Faith always only receives. If we brag about our faith, we don’t have faith. True faith gives all the credit to Jesus. Never rob God of honor.
Genuine conversion causes us to want to tell others about the Savior. It makes us know it’s all about Him, not about us. When Bunyan got saved, he said while out plowing the fields he wanted to tell the crows about the Savior’s love.
For the sake of God’s honor, saving faith has to be openly discussed. Jesus here took what almost became a defense for guilty silence and transformed it into a strong argument for open confession. Christ would not let this woman quietly slip away and thereby become an excuse for our silence. Jesus did not tolerate silence in her case. It was His way of saying He will not tolerate it in our case.
If it’s okay for any of us to remain silent, it’s okay for all of us to. If this became the case, Christianity would become extinct. “If you may go to heaven by the backstairs so may I, and God’s grand entrance to the kingdom may be deserted” (Spurgeon). Our faith is to be announced on the public broadways of life. We sing “We’re marching to Zion,” but it’s hard to have a parade in a private alley.
Too many hope to go quietly to heaven. They want to see themselves not as soldiers of the cross, but merely as sheep of the fold. They have no intent to fight and toil for the kingdom, but don’t hesitate to lie down in its green pastures, to enjoy its corporate worship, and to feast at its table of comfortable, private religion.
Silent souls want to slip into Heaven, unnoticed by others. They hope their tombstone will bear the epitaph of our unknown soldier, “Known but to God.”
For many Christians, the one blight on an otherwise noble character is their silence. Many want to be saved by stealth, to be undetected on the world’s radar.
As you know, this is my glaring weakness, the huge, recurring flaw in my spiritual armor. Nevertheless, I refuse to give in, to yield, to it. Though I often fail, I refuse to make a truce with my failure. I will not adjust my theology to accommodate my weakness, nor will I change my preaching to indulge my sin.
Regardless of our failures, the Biblical mandate is clear. True conversion begins as a secret transaction, as a very intimate, personal, and inward experience. Once consummated, information about this conversion becomes public property.
This is one reason we are commanded to begin the Christian life with an open declaration. Our public baptism is not intended to be an isolated event, but rather to be the beginning event of an ongoing, unending process. Our public statement of faith pictures what we are supposed to do from then on. Our profession in a baptistry should bespeak our intent to profess Christ in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, after conversion and baptism, fear usually becomes a lifelong nemesis. Fear’s seeming omnipresence in us is why Scripture oft speaks against it.
Remember Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. They originally sought to be secret disciples of Jesus, but being true believers, they could not remain silent. They finally risked their jobs and lives to openly identify themselves with Jesus.
Eventually, either love for Jesus will squelch our silence, or silence will squelch our love for Jesus. Let’s speak up and not rob our beloved of His honor.