A Religion for the desperate

Matthew 9:18-38

Jerry A Collins




v                 Does Jesus have power over death?

v                 What is the message of the healing of the blind men?

v                 How does faith figure into Jesus’ ministry to us?


For the most part, people rely upon their own capabilities to cope with or through issues which may be difficult for them. However, there are those moments when we perceive our limitations and scramble to cope. So an option is to turn to a higher source—people who may have never had the inclination before or only very little. I get this type of response often when visiting a godless person who before had no thoughts of God except as a person to curse. When a crisis approaches or a situation we are in for a long time heightens our weaknesses, we long for someone who is strong enough to bring a remedy. Christianity can be called a religion for the desperate because desperation brings people to God. Desperation brings you to God in faith and faith is what it is God is looking for. There are at least two things to remember making a desperate approach to God worthwhile and appropriate.


The Setting: Matthew’s report is condensed and succinct. Mark fleshes it out a bit more. (1) Mark tells us that this ruler was named Jarius. Matthew just says a synagogue official. (2) Mark reports that Jarius first said his daughter was dying but then a messenger arrives and says the little girls was dead. (3) Mark adds that the woman had suffered much under the care of her doctors spending all she had for help and had only gotten worse. Her situation too is desperate. (4) Mark says Jesus took Peter, James and John and with them the girl’s parents were in the room where the miracle was performed. (5) Mark mentions she was 12 yrs old and Jesus specifically stated not to mention this miracle to anyone. In spite of this, Matthew does inform us that the word spread all around vs 26.

The Theme: Jesus takes issue with death and has the authority to restore life. In the first instance the parents were about to and did lose their 12 yr old daughter. Death is a result of the curse and Jesus provided her with life because He has the authority over death. He touched the girl—taking her by the hand vs 25—Jarius even said to lay His (Jesus) hands on her and she will live vs 18. It was the faith of Jarius that brought him to Jesus and that faith in Jesus made her whole. In the next instance, the woman hemorrhaging for 12 yrs—interesting that this is the same time frame as Jarius’ daughter’s lifespan—is hopelessly caught in this condition, approaches Christ with a thought of faith too, If I only touch His garment I shall be made well. Jesus clearly acknowledges that this was faith—a faith in His ability to cure her hopeless condition. Desperate, two different people, with two differing circumstances, both completely hopeless approach Christ in faith. One believing she will live vs 18; the other I shall get well vs 21. The loss of blood and the loss of life both speak of death associated with the curse. The curse associated with the source of life and with the loss of life.

A. The response of Jesus to Jarius 18-19 Jarius is expecting his daughter to die and with the delay from healing this woman Jesus receives word that she has actually died. But he still wishes Jesus to come and instead of healing her of her sickness, raise her from the dead. He believes Jesus can do this.

(1) Faith is only as great as the object of that faith. The quality of your faith is determined by what it is your faith is based upon. Jarius had to know something about Jesus to believe He could do this. Jesus made the trip responding to this man’s faith in Him.

(2) Faith always involves problems. There is a sense of the desperate when we have faith. I have nowhere else to go.  The difficulty has exposed my limitations. Like how to handle my kids, do this job, change my ways. The problems expose my need for faith. See your problems from God’s point of view.

(3) Faith involves risk. I am going to stick my neck out here and believe what God said. If He does not come through I am lost, it is hopeless. Faith includes all of this. It is a commitment before knowledge. I have no idea the outcome and I move out creating a righteous response to my situation believing God has my best interest in view here.

B. The response of Jesus to the woman 20-22 Here is the reason for the delay to the daughter. Another desperate woman of faith approaches. Jarius wanted Jesus to touch his daughter and her the woman wants to touch Jesus. Her touching is an act of faith and Jesus acknowledges it as such v 22. Jesus was in a crowd when this happened but he was able to   discern that her was one of faith in his power to heal. The healing was because she had faith not by magic when touching Jesus garment. Immediately or at that moment she was made whole. Illness is gone, and she recovered a normal life and all because Jesus touched her.

(4) Faith requires action.  It is not faith in faith but faith in Jesus that acts, decides, and determines. Abe believed God while he made his way to the promised land. Joshua believed God while he led the people into it. Mary believed God while be willing to be pregnant. You believe while being a generous giver, while loving your enemies, getting out of debt, loving your wife, disciplining your kids, doing good to those who despitefully use you. Faith acts.

(5) Faith comes to God believing He can meet my need. The woman  came in confidence not doubt. Now God can do what God can do. She also knew something about Jesus that motivated her faith in Him. God is able to do what seems impossible. First, we can be confident that He will do what He says He will do. You can place your confidence in God’s promises to you as long as they are not someone else’s promises—like to Israel in the OT. Second, you can come in faith in God’s ability to answer even though He has not promised to give you what you ask for. It is faith in God’s ability to meet the need I have and His best interest for me.

C. Jesus raises the daughter 23-26 Approaching the house they encounter a group of professional mourners with flute players and a noisy crowd v23. Jesus statement is that the girl is asleep and not died v24. Jesus says the same thing when he raises Lazarus from the dead. She is asleep because from Jesus point of view He can wake her up. Jesus was mocked and laughed at when he said this. It all sounded too incredible. These mockers are made to leave v 25 and Jesus enters the house, takes the girls hand and raises her up. This corpse comes to life. Witnesses included Peter, James, John, The parents, and a group with them. In the most dire circumstances, Jesus teaches that He can change the deepest despair into marvelous hope. The reason he gave orders no to tell anyone about this is because it was not time for confrontation with the hard-hearted religious leaders Mk 5.

1. Isaiah 61:1-3 says the Messiah will turn mourning into dancing. While the bridegroom is here v15-17 there is no reason for fasting and mourning. It is time for living.

2. The promises of Christ are not to be laughed at but heard & believed. Faith and praise for the life He brings and gives to us.

3. Death for believer is seen as a time when the body falls asleep in Jesus while the spirit goes to the Lord given a temporary house until the resurrection reunites the spirit and glorified body.

4. We still deal with sickness and illness and can still come to the Lord in faith to be made whole either at the resurrection,  or in His grace now for His glory in this life.