Jesus brings a dead girl back to life, heals a bleeding woman, a blind man, and a mute – Pharisees accuse him of demonology (Matthew 9:18 – 9:34)
As Jesus explained his purpose to the disciples of John the Baptist (i.e. why Jesus and the disciples did not fast), a synagogue leader knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. Come and put your hand on her so she will live.” Jesus and his disciples went with him.
Just then, a woman who had been suffering from bleeding for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak. She thought to herself, “If I can only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her and said, “Take heart, daughter. Your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
Jesus arrived at the synagogue leader’s home. Inside he saw a noisy crowd and people playing pipes (flutes). He told them, “Go away, the girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.
After the crowd had been put outside, Jesus went in and took the dead girl by the hand and she rose. News of the miracle spread through all the region.
As Jesus travelled from there, two blind men followed him crying out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When Jesus went indoors, the blind men approached him. Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they replied.
Jesus then touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith, let it be done to you.” And their sight was restored.
Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went and spread the news about him all over the region.
While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. When the demon was driven out, the man who was mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”
What the story means to us today
Not just prayer – but faith
The miracle of bringing the dead girl back to life ignited excitement and passion throughout the region. Imagine the same happening today and how overcoming the miraculous news would be. Note that in the case of the bleeding woman and the dead girl, both miracles were a direct result of faith. In fact, Jesus tells the bleeding woman, who merely touched his cloak, “Your faith has healed you.” This is a tenet found throughout Jesus’ teachings – not just prayer, but faith if required of us.
Additional thoughts and considerations
Parallel descriptions of the event
Mark and Luke also described the healing events Matthew wrote about. As usual, Matthew consolidates his description by grouping events together by topic rather than timeline. Some believe the location of the risen dead girl described by Matthew differs slightly too. Matthew mentions an indoor location while Luke tells us the events occurred by the lake. It’s generally accepted that the location was likely by a lake where homes or other indoor structures located nearby.
The resurrection of the synagogue leader’s deceased daughter
The girl’s family were already mourning her death when Jesus resurrected her. The description of a crowd of people and flute players shows the girls funeral was already underway (see details below). Clearly the girl was not asleep or unconscious – she was dead. Jesus act was a bold move, as evidenced by the crowd’s mockery of him. They laughed, likely because he was either too late to save the girl or because it was clear to all that the girl was “dead” and not merely “asleep” as Jesus claimed.
The act served to demonstrate to others (Mark tells us there were five witnesses left in the room) that Jesus was fundamentally challenging the way we thought of death. From this point forward, faith and acceptance of Jesus guarantee everlasting life. Death is nothing more than a metaphorical state of sleep.
The healing of the bleeding woman
The nature of the bleeding woman’s affliction is not specified; thus we cannot know precisely what her condition was. It could have been a medical problem such as vaginal hemorrhage in which case, according to Jewish laws at the time, she would have been ceremonially unclean and anyone who contacted her would have been considered “unclean” too. It is also possible that her bleeding came from a wound that would not clot.
Regardless of the type of injury or affliction, the take away from her story was her faith. Her faith was so strong, she believed that merely touching the edge of Jesus’ coat would heal her.
The healing of the blind men
As Jesus travelled, two blind men followed him crying out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” That the men proclaimed Jesus “son of David” is clearly an act of confessing Jesus as the Messiah. But the blind men were not healed until they had gone indoors where Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Again Jesus required faith).
Since Jesus warned them to tell no one about the healing, he may have led the men indoors to hide the miraculous healing from the public. Or he may have allowed the men to follow, a difficult endeavor for a blind person, as a test of their faith.
How did Jesus heal – by touch, faith, or god-granted authority to conduct miracles?
In healing the blind men’s eyes, Jesus placed his hands on their eyes and said, “According to your faith, let it be done to you.” What healed the men? Jesus touch, their faith, or a reprieve from blindness granted by Jesus because they believed in his authority?
The theological principles of healing vary between branches of Christian sects. It would seem that personal touch bore some merit since some people were healed simply by touching Jesus or his clothing. However, this would likely require faith too.
However, Jesus did not always require a proclamation of faith before performing a miracle or act of healing. In many instances, it was simply god-granted authority that allowed Jesus to heal others – whether they had faith or not. So why the requirement for faith in some instances?
Science has proven that the human mind, through positive thoughts and faith, can aid in healing and health. When Jesus said, “your faith has healed you”, he may have been, at least in part, teaching us this valuable skill. But more importantly, Jesus was teaching those he healed that their faith in him (belief in his role as a messenger for God), their purposeful request for help (prayer), and thoughtful belief that they would be healed were all required for a successful healing. All were critical requirements and Jesus expressed those conditions using a single word – “faith”. More simply, if you accept God and Jesus’ role in your life, ask (pray) for something you require, and believe it will be granted – this is the “faith” Jesus referred to. By faith, you will undoubtedly receive an answer to your prayer.
Why would Jesus want to keep the miraculous healings a secret?
Jesus’ healings (and other miracles) were important to his ministry. Jesus produced many miracles, in plain sight, in front of thousands of people, to prove that his teachings were directly inspired by God. But, Jesus tells the blind men, sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” He made a similar command to a leper he healed in Mark 1:40. It is clear from the verbiage he used that his order was a serious command. Why would he want to keep the healings a secret?
Firstly, two prior healings (the raising of the dead girl in particular) has created quite a stir in the region. There was no need to further inflame the public. Jesus also knew that the Pharisees would be threatened by his activities and any ill-conceived acclaim at this time would impede his mission. Thus, in many instances, he tried to guide the healed to place more emphasis on Jesus as the miracle rather than the acts of healing.
Healing of the mute and driving out the demons
Although ancients often associated illness with demon possession, there are various instances in the bible where the two are distinctly separated. Ancient Israelites did not always associate a sickness, such as deafness/muteness, with ill spirits. They appear to have been able to differentiate between demonic possession and natural causes.
In this instance, Matthew associates the man’s sickness with demonic possession and tells us that Jesus first drove out the demon before the man could speak again. It is a notable miracle because of the Pharisees’ response. Already enviable of Jesus position, they attempted to attribute Jesus’ miracles to demonology. Later (Matthew 12:22), Jesus will cast out demons and again be accused of working for the devil (and will explain to the Pharisees how absurd and illogical their accusation is).
An interesting reaction from the Pharisees
Matthew’s story ends with a revealing observation. In response to the “amazed” citizens who witnessed Christ’s miracles, the Pharisees countered that “by the prince of demons” he conducts his miracles. Notice that the ancient Jewish leaders did not discount Jesus’ miracles, claim trickery, or say they were exaggerated. Rather, they acknowledged the events but refused to acknowledge Jesus was the Messiah and instead, attributed the miracles to forces other than God.
The science and history behind the story
The funeral of the synagogue leader’s daughter
Matthew describes the home of the synagogue leader as being filled with people, a “noisy crowd”, with musicians playing pipes (flutes). Funerals in ancient Israel were quite different from our relatively calm, quiet modern-day affairs. The “noisy crowd” consisted of friends and family members mourning the death of the daughter. Jewish funeral customers required the grieving family hire two flute players and a professional mourning woman whose job was to cry loudly throughout the event.
Notes on Biblical translation
The healing of the blind “men” (man)
The healing of the blind men described in Matthew is similar to an event mentioned in Mark 10:46 and Luke 18:35. It is unclear if the events are the same because Matthew writes there were two blind men while Mark and Luke only mention one. Further complicating the potential connection, Mark describes two separate healings of a blind man (Mark 8:22 and Mark 10:46) – as does Matthew (Matthew 9:27 and Matthew 20:29).
Certainly, it is possible that Mathew, with his propensity for condensing stories and ordering them by topic instead of chronologically, could have combined the healings he witnessed into a single narrative. He seems to take such latitude in other instances. But it’s impossible to know if Matthew, Mark, and Luke provided parallel descriptions of the same event or if the events were separate instances.
We know blindness was common in the ancient Mideast and thus, it’s feasible that there were multiple healings of blind people – in fact, it highly likely since Jesus travelled extensively and demonstrated many miraculous healing acts throughout the region (John says there were enough miracles to fill a book).
Regardless of the argument over Matthew’s interpretation of the events, all agree that the blind man/men’s faith healed them.
18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.
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. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 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 and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.
27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”
28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they replied.
29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.
32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”
The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.
19 As he finished saying this, a local official appeared, bowed politely, and said, “My daughter has just now died. If you come and touch her, she will live.” Jesus got up and went with him, his disciples following along.
20–22 Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” The woman was well from then on.
23–26 By now they had arrived at the house of the town official, and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and the neighbors bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: “Clear out! This girl isn’t dead. She’s sleeping.” They told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. But when Jesus had gotten rid of the crowd, he went in, took the girl’s hand, and pulled her to her feet—alive. The news was soon out, and traveled throughout the region.
27–28 As Jesus left the house, he was followed by two blind men crying out, “Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us!” When Jesus got home, the blind men went in with him. Jesus said to them, “Do you really believe I can do this?” They said, “Why, yes, Master!”
29–31 He touched their eyes and said, “Become what you believe.” It happened. They saw. Then Jesus became very stern. “Don’t let a soul know how this happened.” But they were hardly out the door before they started blabbing it to everyone they met.
32–33 Right after that, as the blind men were leaving, a man who had been struck speechless by an evil spirit was brought to Jesus. As soon as Jesus threw the evil tormenting spirit out, the man talked away just as if he’d been talking all his life. The people were up on their feet applauding: “There’s never been anything like this in Israel!”
34 The Pharisees were left sputtering, “hocus-pocus. It’s nothing but hocus-pocus. He’s probably made a pact with the Devil.”
Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005. Print.
The NET Bible
9:18 As he was saying these things, a ruler came, bowed low before him, and said, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and she will live.” 9:19 Jesus and his disciples got up and followed him. 9:20 But a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 9:21 For she kept saying to herself, “If only I touch his cloak, I will be healed.” 9:22 But when Jesus turned and saw her he said, “Have courage, daughter! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed from that hour. 9:23 When Jesus entered the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the disorderly crowd, 9:24 he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but asleep.” And they began making fun of him. 9:25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and gently took her by the hand, and the girl got up. 9:26 And the news of this spread throughout that region.
9:27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, shouting, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 9:28 When he went into the house, the blind men came to him. Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 9:29 Then he touched their eyes saying, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” 9:30 And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about this.” 9:31 But they went out and spread the news about him throughout that entire region.
9:32 As they were going away, a man who could not talk and was demon-possessed was brought to him. 9:33 After the demon was cast out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowds were amazed and said, “Never has anything like this been seen in Israel!” 9:34 But the Pharisees said, “By the ruler of demons he casts out demons.”
Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006. Print.
King James Version
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.
27 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. 28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. 29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. 30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. 31 But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.
32 As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. 33 And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. 34 But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009. Print.