The Amazing Power of Jesus
Jesus' Power over Death
Matthew 9:18-26
 
I don’t suppose there is anything more wonderful to know than that Christ has conquered death.  We recently talked about that in the series on the resurrection.  We saw it also in our Hebrews study.  Hebrews 2:14-15 says, "Jesus came to destroy him who had the power of death; and, as a result of that, to deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
 
In short, that means we don’t have to fear death because Christ defeated death.  And by the way, only Jesus can do that. And yet, everywhere we look there is testimony to the fact that we have to deal with death.  
 
One man that I read about is a Turkish watchmaker who decided that he wanted to build himself a special grave with an eight-inch window on top. He also planned to install a pushbutton electric alarm bell inside the grave so if he happened to get buried alive by mistake, he could push the button and ring the cemetery's guard room.
 
He also planned to have an electric light bulb in there, and he instructed the people who buried him to be sure they left the bulb on for seven days and then come back and check on him.  If he was dead, they could then turn it out.
 
In Brazil a few years ago, an architect designed a 39-story skyscraper cemetery to deal with the incredible overcrowding they were experiencing.  It was designed to accommodate 147,000 corpses.  It has a heliport so the bodies can be flown in quickly, two churches and 21 chapels, along with comfortable beds for grieving friends and family.  There will also be soothing and somber background music piped in 24 hours a day.
 
Great Britain was the first country in the world to have more cremations than burials, and it’s true in many countries now.  Wisconsin recently announced that was true there also. In many countries there are no places left to put bodies. 
 
In Japan, the graves are so crowded that only if you are in the imperial family can you be assured of or guaranteed a grave. They started burying people upright a number of years ago.  Are you pointed up or down?
 
Russia has the world's largest cemetery with room for over 500,000 corpses.  There is a mausoleum in San Diego built to accommodate 70,000 bodies.  Adjacent to it, they have a garden and in that garden is a replica of the tomb from the garden in Jerusalem where they believe Jesus may have risen.  The tomb is empty and the door is always open so there is a constant reminder of the resurrection of Jesus.
 
That’s appropriate because only Jesus conquered death and can give to us victory over it.  Most of you are old enough to remember Mahatma Gandhi.  I suppose while he was alive, no one seemed to have it all together like did Gandhi.
He seemed to be so at peace and have a tranquility of soul and mind.  In fact, fifteen years before his death, he wrote: "I must tell you in all humility that Hinduism as I know it entirely satisfies my soul.  It fills my whole being, and I find a solace in Hindu writings that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount."
 
That was his testimony.  He was utterly at peace and absolutely convinced that it was because of Hinduism.  However, just before his death, he wrote, "My days are numbered.  I am not likely to live very long, perhaps a year or a little more.  For the first time in 50 years, I find myself in the slough of despond."  Then he said, "All about me is darkness, and I am desperately praying for light."
 
He may have thought he had it all together, but when he faced the inevitability of death, it all fell apart.  And what he needed to know was that only Jesus can give that peace he thought he possessed. And it is because of the amazing power of Jesus.
 
That’s what we’ve been studying in Matthew 8 and 9.  We’ve been away for a while and I am anxious to return to our study.  So far, as Matthew has presented the amazing power of Jesus, he has shown us that Jesus had power over disease in chapter 8 verses 1 to 17.
 
He has shown us that He had power over physical, spiritual, and moral disorders, in chapter 8: 23- 9:17.  Then beginning in chapter 9:18 down through verse 35, he shows us that He has power over death.
 
Disease, disorder, and death.  He can give sight to the blind.  He can give hearing to the deaf.
He can make the mute to speak, He can forgive men of their sin, and He can even raise the dead.
 
In dealing with death, there are three miracles. The first one is the raising of a dead girl.  The second one is giving sight to blind eyes, and the third, giving a voice to one who is dumb.
 
And in some sense, they all illustrate His power over death.  In one case, He gives speech to a dead voice.  In another, He gives sight to dead eyes and then pulling it all together, not only can He raise the parts of the body from deadness, but the whole of the body from deadness as He raises this little girl from death.  Let’s read about it.
 
Verses 18-26
 
And as we look at this series of miracles, I want to look beyond the miracles to take a closer look at the man doing the miracles.  As we have been developing this Serve Oklahoma emphasis, I’ve had on my mind the way Jesus served people.  And nowhere in Scripture do we see how Jesus dealt with people than in this text.
 
All of His tenderness, all of His sensitivity, all of His gentleness, all of His openness, all His loving kindness is here, along with this amazing display of His power.  And it is a wonderful example to us.
 
First of all, I notice that
 
1. Jesus Was Accessible
 
verse 18
 
There are some questions that need to be answered that surface from that opening phrase.
 
“What things?” and "Unto whom?”
 
Who is He talking to and about what?  Remember what was going on here.  He'd cast the demons out of the maniac of Gadara and sent them into a herd of swine.  He had calmed the sea and the wind, and you can believe that that word spread rather rapidly.
 
In fact, when He came back to Capernaum, He was staying in Peter's house, and the disciples of John the Baptist came and said, "Why aren't you fasting?  Why are all of you disciples and the Lord eating like this?  Why aren't you fasting?  Why don't you fulfill the prescribed fasts?"
 
And with that in mind, we come to
 
verse 18
 
If I may stretch your thinking a little bit, this speaks to me of Jesus' accessibility.  People could get to Him.  I mean He was there.  There was no ivory tower.  He's not a religious guru who was up on a mountain top. He's not at arm's length.  He doesn't live in a monastery.  There's no hierarchy.  You don't go to the third vice president and have him pass it up the line.  He moved among the people.
 
He was in the streets.  He was in the villages.  He walked the dusty roads.  He was in the synagogues.  He was in the homes.  He bumped into people in the temple ground.  He was accessible.
 
And not just to adults, but to all ages.  He was the one Who said, “Be sure you let little children have access to me.” He included adults and children, boys and girls, men and women; no one was excluded from having access to Him.
 
Can you imagine what that must have been like?  Do you suppose they asked Him questions when they got next to Him?  Do you think they brought Him all their problems?  Wouldn’t you?  If you knew there was One who had all the answers Who was counseling and healing and teaching and He was accessible, don’t you think you’d be there trying to get next to Him?
 
Imagine the conversations; the endless needs, the endless questions. That’s why, from time to time, you will find Him retreating away for a little while.
You’ll hear Him says every so often, “Don’t tell anyone about what’s happened here” because of the pressure that would come as a result.
 
And there He was, the Creator of the universe, the King of kings Lord of lords, walking the rolling hills of Galilee with little children running in and around and people stopping Him and talking and sick folk everywhere.  He’s in the villages and by the shore and in a boat on the water and in the crowded streets of Jerusalem; and always surrounded by people because He was accessible.
 
You know what that tells me?  That tells me that God is accessible.  Isn't that good?  This is God in the flesh come to tell us about Himself.  And because Jesus was accessible, we know God is accessible.
 
Now, on this particular day, the attention is placed on two of those people in that vast crowd in particular.
 
One is a ruler, the other, a sick lady.  One is kind of up and in.  The other is definitely down and out.  One was wealthy, and one was poor.  They kind of give us the expanse of the crowd.  Here are two people from opposite ends of society and in between them was everyone you could imagine.
 
The Pharisees were trying to trip Him and trick Him, condemn Him; there were people who were just trying to analyze and observe Him; and then all the hurting people, all the people who were sick, all the people who had anxieties, all the people who were beggars, who were poor, who were outcasts, who were slaves, who were captives, all of the hurting people were there, as well, trying to have all their needs met.
 
And these two, in particular, let us know that Jesus was accessible to anyone.  But let’s go a step further.  He was also
 
2.  Available
 
That turns the attention from the crowd to the individual.  He was not only accessible in that you could get to Him, He was available in that He would come to you.  And there is quite a difference between the two.  It’s wonderful to know that Jesus was out among the people, but it’s even better to know that He knew who was in that crowd and He would move to that person with real availability.
 
So the story zooms in on these two in particular.  Let's look back at verse 18 and see what happens.
 
Notice the word, “behold”.  That means “Watch this”.  This is a startling, shocking, amazing thing.  What's so remarkable?  Well, this man was a ruler.  Mark adds, he was one of the rulers of the synagogue and Luke says he was the chief elder of the synagogue, and his name was Jairus.  This man was the No. 1 representative of the religious establishment in Capernaum.  He's the chief elder, not in the temple of Jerusalem, but in the synagogue in Capernaum.
 
As such, he had the administration of the place.  It was his job to coordinate and make sure all the public worship was conducted properly.  The chief elders were men of great influence.  He is the epitome of the religious establishment.  Now if you know anything about the Gospels, you know that the religious establishment was dead set against Christ.  They fought Him tooth and nail, all the way through His life.
 
And he comes to Jesus.  Now, you might expect him to come and say, "Now, sir, I am the chief elder of the synagogue.  I'd like to speak to You.  Could we please have a private conversation?"  That's not what he did.  He didn't protect himself at all.  It's amazing.
 
In fact, verse 18 tells us, "He came, and he worshiped Him."  Now that word in the Greek, to worship, means to prostrate oneself before someone and either kiss his feet, kiss the hem of his garment, or kiss the ground in front of him.
 
 
Now as far as the Pharisees are concerned, Jesus is a heretic.  They are already after Him, and have had confrontation with him, and yet this guy does what you only did in that culture to someone who was divine, someone who was holy in a un-human way, or some king who had stated that he was, indeed, divine.  You didn't do this to human beings unless they were in some sense supernatural.
 
The man worshiped.  What in the world made this guy do that?  How could you ever get somebody like him to do that?  Verse 18 tells us.
 
His daughter has died.  Matthew's account is brief.  Luke's is larger, and Mark's is larger; and the other Gospel writers tell us that the first time the man spoke to Jesus, he said, "My daughter is dying."  And later on, he was informed that she was dead; and he told Jesus she was dead.  Matthew just condenses it all, leaving out some of the preliminaries; and, at this point, Matthew just says, "My daughter's dead.”
 
You know why he came?  He didn't care about social pressure.  He didn't care about prestige.  He didn't care about religious establishment.  His daughter was dead, and his heart is broken and he has nowhere else to turn.
 
And he makes this request of Jesus, "Come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live."  He swallowed his pride, turned his back on social pressure, said goodbye to the religious establishment, and he came to Jesus, fell flat on his face, probably kissed His feet and said, "My daughter's dead."
 
Two things we know about this man:
 
No. 1, he had a deep need.
 
That's why people come to Christ.  If you don't have a need, you're not going to come.  This man came because he was hurting, and he knew a pain that
he'd never experienced in his life.  And out of that great need, he came.
 
No. 2, he had a great faith.
 
He really did believe that Jesus had the power to do something about a dead daughter.  If you go back to chapter 8, there was a centurion who said his servant was home sick of the paralysis.  And he said to Jesus, "If You speak the Word, my servant will be healed," and Jesus said, "I have not seen so great faith anywhere in Israel."
 
This man had great enough faith to believe that Jesus could heal his servant with a Word.  If that's the greatest faith he'd seen in Israel, what kind of faith is it to believe that Jesus could put a hand on a dead person and raise her from the dead when it had never been done?
 
This is certainly greater faith than Martha had.  Martha said to Jesus, "If You'd only been here when Lazarus was sick, You could have done something.  But now he's dead and it's too late."  Obviously she didn't believe Jesus could raise someone from the dead.
 
But this man did.  And how did Jesus respond to his need and his faith?
 
Verse 19
 
Literally Jesus “up and followed him”.  He didn't say, "I’m covered up and the moment; got his big crowd to take care of.  I don’t know how I can get away right now.  Maybe you could schedule an appointment later in the week.”  He just "up and followed him."  Talk about availability! He's available to the individual.
 
But let’s add one more word to the description.  He was accessible.  He was available.  And he was
 
3.  Touchable
 
Jesus and the disciples went with Jairus, and so did the multitude.  And on the trip, we find the miracle within the miracle.
 
verse 20
 
Now maybe we don’t realize it so much, but that was a big no-no.  Women didn't go around touching men.  And by the way, the word “touch” means to grab.  This woman reached out and grabbed on.
 
That wasn’t the only problem.  Not only did women not go around grabbing men, but she was diseased with a blood problem.
 
For twelve years, this lady had been bleeding.  It’s interesting, isn’t it?  Jairus had a little girl that gave him 12 years of sunshine that had died; this woman had a disease that had caused her twelve years of shadow and darkness.
 
And for twelve years, this woman could not stop bleeding.  Luke says, "She could not be cured."
Mark says, "She spent all her money on doctors and was worse."  Whatever it was, she was chronically diseased medically, and therefore, she was considered to be perpetually unclean religiously.  She was incurable and unclean.
 
From a Jewish point of view, you couldn't imagine anything worse than being a woman with an issue of blood.  It was humiliating, beyond anything, perhaps, except leprosy.
 
Now the Talmud, the Jewish codification of law, gave eleven different cures for an issue of blood that you were to try.  Some of them were like tonics and herbs and astringents.  Others were just superstitious.
 
For example, one was that you had to carry the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen bag in the summer and transfer them to a cotton bag in the winter.
 
Another was that you had to carry around on your person a barleycorn that had been found in the dung of a white donkey.  Now, I don’t care how red-neck you are, that’s strange.
 
That just illustrates how terrible the disease was if you would try that to get over it.  Leviticus 15:25-27 said, “Every bed she touches is unclean.  Everything she sits on is unclean.  Everything she wears is unclean, and every person who touches her is unclean.  Therefore, she was excommunicated from the synagogue.  She was divorced by her husband.  She was ostracized from all human relationships.”
 
 
And for twelve years this woman had lived in absolute isolation, to say nothing of the medical things complicated by this problem.  She was never able to go to the temple; never able to go to the synagogue; no longer able to be with her husband or her family.  And yet, on this day, she touched Jesus.  Why?
 
Same two reasons.  She had a deep need, and she had great faith.  She lost all the sense of propriety.  There was desperation there.  I’ve heard people say, “Well I’d like to join the church or be baptized or whatever, but I’m sure not going down there in front of a crowd.  That's fine.  Maybe when you get desperate enough you will.
 
In fact, when you get to the desperate point, if the door's not open, you'll knock it down to get to Jesus.  This woman was there; and it says she touched the hem of His garment, and was immediately healed.
 
Now, before we go to Jairus’s house, let’s talk about the hem of the garment. In Numbers 15:37 to 41, and Deuteronomy 22:12, the Jews were told that they were to mark their garments with a tassel or fringe.
 
They were to weave a blue thread through their garments and there were all kinds of symbolism attached to that, and without going into all the detail, the threads came together to from these tassels and they represented the Word of God.
 
And because of these threads and tassels, every time a Jew went anywhere, the world knew that he belonged to God.
And every time he took his clothes off or put his clothes on, he saw those things and it was a reminder to him that he belonged to God.
 
You might say, do you think Jesus had those tassels on His garment?  I’ll guarantee you He did.  And you can just picture the Lord moving through that crowd, and according to these verses, this woman saw all of that and began to ponder the possibility.
 
And the experts tells us that the way the sentence is constructed indicates that she kept on saying to herself, “If I can just touch His garment, I can be healed."  She kept saying it over and over as she struggled through the crowd, and finally grabbed that tassel.
 
You know what happened when she grabbed it?  Instantly, she was healed.  She had faith, didn't she?   And as a result, of that, she was made well.
 
Jesus is accessible.  He is available.  He's touchable.
 
Here’s the fourth thing.  He was
 
4. Impartial
 
He could have said, "Lady, could you let go of Me?  I'm trying to get down to the ruler's house.  There are important people and important ministries for me to do. Don't hassle my tassel."
 
But He doesn’t do that.  He stops everything He’s doing to deal with the outcast woman.  And notice He doesn't deal with her from a distance.
 
Did you notice how He addressed her in verse 22?  “Daughter."  That's so intimate.  That's so personal.  That's a family reference.  That's so tender.  That has so much warmth, so much affection.
 
“Daughter, be of good cheer!” And He says to her, “Be comforted, daughter."  What tenderness.  What impartiality..
 
Then He says this, "'Your faith has made you well.’  And the woman was well from that hour."
 
Now, wait a minute.  She'd already been healed.  She was healed the minute she touched, but now He gives her something more than physical healing. In fact, when you think about it, her faith didn’t have anything to do with her physical healing.  That was just the sovereignty of God.
 
But in addition to the physical healing, He said, "Your faith has saved you”.  That’s a literal translation of the phrase.  Certainly she was healed from the disease, but she was saved from her sin also.
 
And I love what that illustrates.  Scripturally speaking, faith has very little, if anything to do with healing.  Healing is a sovereign act of God.  There are examples of people being healed and not saved.  There are example of saved people not being healed and dying.
 
But there is a vital connection between faith and salvation.  We are saved by grace through faith. . .  Without fait, it is impossible to please God.
 
 
And in that regard, anybody can be saved.  It doesn’t matter if who you are.  A little outcast lady was as important to Him as the ruler of the synagogue.   See, Jesus loved people.  He was accessible.  He was available.  He was touchable.  He was impartial.  And finally, He was
 
5. Powerful
 
Now, truthfully, anybody can be the first four, but the crowd gets thin at this one.   This is what sets Him apart.
 
Verse 23
 
He’s stopped and dealt with this interruption and now the girl is dead.  In fact, she’s been dead long enough for the funeral to start.  And in typical Jewish style, this death is being conducted.  There were three primary components to a Jewish funeral.
 
First of all, there was the rending of garments.  You were supposed to rip your clothes.  That was symbolic of your grief, and they had 39 different rules and regulations on how to rip your clothes.
 
You had to do it while you were standing up.  You had to do it over your heart or near your heart.  If you were a mother and father, it had to be right over your heart.  If you were not the mother or father, it could be anywhere near your heart.
 
Once you ripped the clothes, you were to leave it open for seven days.  After a week, you could loosely stitch the opening with big stitches, but you couldn't sew it permanently.  In this way, people would know you still felt bad.
So that’s happening in this situation.  Everybody is ripping their clothes.  Now keep in mind, this was very likely a big funeral.  This is a very important man in town, and now he’s lost a child.   So clothes are being ripped.
 
The second thing was the wailing.  Professionals were hired to take care of that.  Women would come in and begin to wail.  As a part of their job, they had to study the family history so that as they wailed, they mentioned everybody in the family that has died.
 
"Oh, remember Bertha.  Oh, remember Henry." And would go on and on and re-open every grief the family had ever experienced.  They would wail and shriek and scream and make all this racket trying to touch every tender cord they possibly could for every person who'd ever died.
 
The third thing was music.  You find mentioned in verse 23 the flute players.  Even if you were poor, it was required to have at least two flutes and one wailing woman.  And the number required was in direct proportion to your wealth.
 
Here is a man who was probably wealthy.  So try to imagine the scene into which Jesus walks. They’re ripping and tearing and screaming and shrieking and wailing, and guys all over the place playing flutes.
 
And watch what happens in verse 24
 
Now remember, they’re just doing what was required.  This is what you are supposed to do when someone dies.  And the reason they should quit?
 
Jesus says, “The girl is not dead.  She's sleeping."
And they laughed in his face.  That tells you a little bit about the fact that they were paid mourners.  They could turn the laughter on and the tears off and go from crying to laughing just that quickly!
 
Verses 25
 
Early in his ministry, D. L. Moody was called upon to preach a funeral sermon.  He decided he would search through the Gospels to try to find one of Christ's funeral sermons, but he searched in vain.  He found that every time Christ attended a funeral, He broke it up by raising the person from the dead; and so He never gave a funeral sermon.  When the dead heard His voice, they immediately sprang to life.  That is the power of Jesus over death.
 
As we close, I want you to notice a little phrase in
verse 24 - “He went in and took her by the hand.”
 
You know, Jesus didn't have to touch the little girl. He could have just said the word and she would have been healed.  But it is the way of God to be tender.  It is the way of God to be gentle.  It is the way of God to be affectionate and loving.  If it is the way of God and the way of Jesus it ought to be our way also.  We need to be accessible, available, touchable and impartial so the power of God can flow through us to a hurting world.
 
Verse 26 says, "And the report of this went into all the land”.  People need to know Jesus has power over death.  He can redeem.  May God help us to help them know.
 
Let’s pray.
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