18 “While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. 23 And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24 he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 And the report of this went through all that district.” (Matthew 9:18-19, 23–26 ESV)
Matthew groups together nine stories containing ten specific miracles in chapters 8–9. There are three miracles in 8:1–17, teaching on true discipleship (8:18–22), and then three more miracles (8:23–9:8). This is followed by Jesus’ teaching on true discipleship (9:9–17), and finally three more miracle stories; one of which includes two miracles (9:18–33). Today, we examine the raising of a girl from the dead.
In the midst of Jesus’ discussion with John the Baptist’s disciples, and the Pharisees (Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39), a ruler came and knelt before Him. Ruler (ἄρχων; archon) refers to either a judge who makes decisions on the basis of law, a military commander, or even a king. Matthew does not provide any further information about this individual.
Mark states that the ruler’s name was Jairus. He was one of the rulers of the synagogue (Mark 5:21-24). Luke also affirms this (Luke 5:41).
However, by kneeling before Jesus, the ruler was deferring to Jesus’ authority. This parallels Matthew’s account of the healing of the centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5-13). To kneel (προσκυνέω; proskyneo) means to bow down and worship a deity.
The ruler was acknowledging Jesus was God and able to raise the dead. The ruler displayed this faith and trust by saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” Luke states that the girl was about twelve years old and the man’s only daughter (Luke 8:40-42).
Both Mark and Luke indicate that the girl was close to death when the ruler appeared to Jesus, but that she had died before Jesus arrived at the house (Mark 5:35; Luke 8:49). The tone of the text is of a desperate man seeking a miracle from God. He seeks such a miracle from Jesus. He affirms that if Jesus were to lay His hand on her, his daughter would live again.
“Matthew’s parallel account has Jairus saying that his daughter was already dead when he met Jesus (Matt. 9:18), but that is likely due to Matthew’s preference for shorter accounts of the events in Jesus’ life. For brevity’s sake, he reports in Jairus’ first encounter with Jesus what was ultimately true of the girl, namely, that she died before our Lord could get to her (see Mark 5:35),” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.
Jesus immediately got up and followed the man to his house. Both Mark and Luke refer to a great crowd following Jesus (Mark 5:24; Luke 9:42).
“As we see in our text, Jesus went with Jairus straightaway to address the need. This shows our Savior’s remarkable compassion. Even though a large and surely noisy crowd surrounded Him, Jesus still had time to address the needs of one man. We can be confident that He hears our individual needs even though millions cry out to Him,” writes Dr. Sproul.
For what pressing need are you crying out to the Lord Jesus Christ today? Know that He hears and He cares.
Soli deo Gloria!