These small group studies of Matthew contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Matthew 9:14-26 Inductive Bible Study – Discussion Questions and Verse by Verse Commentary
- Jesus Questioned on Fasting (14-17)
- Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Woman (18-26)
I. Jesus Questioned on Fasting (14-17)
Do you think the question that John’s disciples asked was reasonable or not? Why?
Do you think their question was hostile (like the Pharisees’ would have been?) Why or why not?
What can we learn from them about we should do if we don’t understand something?
Who is the bridegroom? The guest of the bridegroom?
What can we learn from this passage about fasting?
What does Jesus’ answer mean? How can we understand his parable? What does this have to do with fasting?
Verse by Verse Commentary
- John’s disciples question Jesus – Notice that Jesus does not rebuke them for their question. Instead He graciously answers them. This is quite different than how Jesus often responds to the Pharisees. But they normally questioned Jesus with hostile intent. Other times they outright accused him. I believe that John’s disciples question Jesus, not out of anger or malice, but out of a genuine desire to learn and understand something which they don’t understand. They had been taught that fasting was normal and beneficial, so to see Jesus and His disciples not fasting was confusing. Application: If you don’t understand something, ask. It is good to ask sincere questions as a means to learn more.
- Jesus’ answer – Jesus is the bridegroom in this mini-parable. And His guests are the disciples. Fasting would not take place at a wedding. In the same way, Jesus’ coming to the earth was cause for celebration. While the disciples were with Him, they need not fast. In other words, there is a time and a place for fasting. See Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Jesus’ answer is a very good one because He showed John’s disciples that fasting is good and right. Fasting is expected at the right time. So they were perfectly right to fast. At the same time, He shows them that they should not judge others for not doing the same since there can be legitimate reasons for not fasting at a particular time. Application: The application is simple. We should fast. Jesus Himself set us an example of fasting (He fasted for 40 days). Yet it is not always appropriate to fast. We need to choose the right time and way. And we should not judge others for this, especially since a true fast is one done in private (hence why people didn’t see Jesus fast).
- Cloth parable – Nowadays we live in a time when clothes are bought pre-shrunk. Even so they may sometimes shrink the first time they are dried. At that time cloth had to be shrunk naturally and it would keep shrinking for a long time. New cloth and old cloth would shrink at different rates. So if you had an old robe that had a hole in it and then sowed a new piece of cloth over the hole that new cloth would shrink at a faster rate and would rip itself off of the old cloth. The result would likely be a bigger tear than the original hole.
- Wine skin parable – The meaning of this parable is the same as the cloth parable. Old and new wine skins are different and old and new wine is different. Wine skins would have likely been made out of some type of leather. New leather is supple and soft. It can be stretched and change shape easily. But old leather has been exposed to the elements. It it is stiff and brittle by comparison and cannot change shape easily. Wine ferments over time, releasing certain chemicals in to the air. It is still chemically reacting and “roiling” inside the skin. If brand new wine is placed in that brittle and stiff wine skin it could cause that wine skin to burst and waste the wine. On the other hand, new leather is soft and could change shape or expand as necessary to accommodate the fermenting wine.
- Interpretation – We must understand these parables in light of the context. The context is that John’s disciples are asking about fasting. Their question even goes a bit deeper. Basically they are asking Jesus, “Why do you do things differently?” The Pharisees and religious leaders were angry that Jesus did things differently than they did. They could not accept these differences. Neither were they themselves willing to change their ways or traditions in light of Jesus’ teaching. They represented the old ways. Not all of these were bad. Some were based on the Old Covenant. But now Jesus has come. Jesus represents a new teaching. His teaching does not mostly disagree in substance with the Old Covenant, but it expounds upon it and expands it in new directions. The Pharisees’ Judaism was like the old wine skin. There was no room for any changes. When Jesus’ “new wine” demanded changes to how they thought and acted, they could not handle it and snapped. Nothing Jesus could say would change their minds or hearts. But John’s disciples were different. They were heavily influenced by the traditions of the times, but they had an opportunity to make a choice. When confronted with Jesus’ new teachings would they have brittle and unbending hearts? Would they be stuck in their own traditions like the Pharisees? Or would they realize the value of what Jesus was offering? Would they be willing to change their way of thinking and their traditions to accommodate themselves to Jesus? Would their hearts be stiff or soft?
- Application: Ezekiel 36:26. We do not face exactly the same question that they faced. But we too have our own ideas, prejudices, and habits. Are we willing to change them when confronted with God’s Word? Is our heart stiff and unbending, made of stone? Or are they soft? Are you like a brick that cannot be molded by the potter? Or are you like a soft piece of clay, willing to change yourself to fit into how God wants you to be? Here is an example. I have heard people say things before like “That is just how I am.” They may say this about their blunt or rude communication. “That is just how I am.” They may say this about their lack of compassion for others, “That is just how I am am.” They may say this about their dislike of children, “That is just how I am.” They may say this about their forgetfulness or disorderliness, “That is just how I am.” The list can go on and on. Probably it is how we are. But saying “that is how I am” is not a good excuse. And this is the wrong perspective. The better approach is to ask a question, “How does God want me to be?” or “How should I be?” Answer that question and then adjust your personality and character to become like that.
II. Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Woman (18-26)
The below notes are taken from the parallel passage in Mark 5:21-43 on the same events:
Was the child dead or near death?
“Solution 1: Matthew Didn’t Record the First Statement of Jairus
Matthew may have simply omitted the initial statement of Jairus and instead focused on the second one, which he alone recorded, although it is inferred from Luke 8:50. This theory has merit because Matthew is the only one to also omit that some people came from Jairus’ house and told him that his daughter had just died (Mark 5:35–36; Luke 8:49–50). So chronologically, Jairus told Jesus his daughter was near death (and this was recorded in Mark and Luke), and then when he got word his daughter was dead, he told Jesus the second time and used the phrase that is recorded in Matthew. Luke 8:50 corroborates this by stating that Jesus answered (replied back to) Jairus after he had learned of Jairus’ daughter’s death. It also is worth noting that in Mark and Luke the man begged Jesus to come while his daughter still lived, but in the Matthew account he was “worshipping” Jesus and believed that Jesus could resurrect his daughter. This would further confirm that Matthew omitted or condensed the first discourse with Jairus and focused on the second one after Jairus had been told of his daughter’s death.
Solution 2: Different Point of Emphasis
The translation of the phrase “just died” in Matthew could also be translated “near death.” Arti eteleutēsen is the Greek phrase used in this text, and the Greek word arti is often translated as “henceforth” or “hereafter.” If this theory is correct, then Matthew did not omit any discourse with Jairus; there was just a different point of emphasis. According to commentator Craig Blomberg,
As consistently throughout his Gospel (and esp. with miracle stories), Matthew abbreviates Mark, this time to such an extent that he seems to contradict the parallel accounts (Mark 5:21–43; Luke 8:40–56). Instead of coming to plead with Jesus while his daughter is still alive, Jairus apparently arrives only after her death. Yet to call this a contradiction is anachronistically to impose on an ancient text modern standards of precision in story telling. What is more, in a world without modern medical monitors to establish the precise moment of expiry, there is not nearly so much difference between Matthew’s arti eteleutēsen in v. 18 (which could fairly be translated “just came to the point of death”; cf. Heb 11:22) and eschatos echei in Mark 5:23 (which could also be rendered “is dying”). What is important is not the precise moment of death but Jairus’s astonishing faith.”
Sometimes the word Matthew uses can mean not necessarily a present truth, but an inevitable truth. Jairus also likely left home in a desperate state. It is clear that if not already dead, his daughter was extremely close and he knew it would be very soon. He may have suspected that she would die on the way to Jesus. So it is also possible that Jairus made both statement at different times, not knowing which was true or after having received more information from a messenger.
Jairus came to Jesus to ask for healing for his daughter. When he arrived he got straight to the point. He boldly walked right up to Jesus and asked for help. Yet he did it with humility (by falling down) and politeness (please) and didn’t make any demands of Jesus. He also had complete faith in Jesus. Jairus believed that if Jesus laid hands on her, she would be made well. It was likely this faith that prompted Jesus to go with him to heal the girl.
- Application: Jairus gives us a good model about how to make requests of God in our prayers.
- Boldness – We should be bold. The Bible says that if we ask we shall receive. Do not be afraid to make big requests of God or even to ask for divine healing or miracles. There is no point in hinting or beating around the bush when God knows your heart anyway.
- Humility – While, we should be bold, this doesn’t mean that we should be impertinent or demanding. It is not our place to demand that God answer our prayers. He is on the throne over the universe and not us. Part of humility is recognizing who we are and who He is. It is understanding that it is God’s grace and favor to us that motivates Him to help us, not our inherent right or something which we deserve.
- Politeness – Part of humility is remembering that we are coming before the God of heaven and earth. That motivates us to politely beseech His favor rather than tell Him what He should or should not do. Jairus was a fairly important person, but he didn’t come to Jesus as a peer.
- Are you satisfied with the amount of time you spend in prayer each day? Do you regularly pray for others? Do you have requests which you persistently bring up to the Lord or do you “pray once and then forget?” What are some specific things you could do in the coming year to improve your prayer life? Here are some ideas.
- Prayer notebook
- Setting a goal to fast 2-3 times this year.
- Finding a prayer partner to pray with either in person or by phone.
- Resolving to pray together daily with a spouse.
- Jesus went with Him. Once again we see Jesus’ compassion. He seems to be always ready to inconvenience Himself and set aside what He is doing to help people in need. Are you equally ready to inconvenience yourselves in order to help others when they request it of you?
What can we learn about this woman from this passage?
How must she have felt suffering through this illness for 12 years?
Why could the physicians not help her?
Should she have kept seeing them? Did this demonstrate a lack of faith?
What kinds of doubts or feelings toward God may have arisen in those 12 years?
Why did God put her through this trial? Since we can’t know why, what might she have learned during these 12 years?
Why did Jesus asked who touched Him? Did He not know the answer? What was the result of this question? For the woman? For the crowd? For the disciples?
How did Jesus respond to the lady? What can we learn about His character from this?
How might Jairus have felt while all of this was going on?
John 5:1-17 – A man who couldn’t walk for 38 years was healed.
Luke 8:43 – Parallel passage noting that the woman’s problem was incurable.
Faith and healing:
Acts 3:16 – The faith that is in Jesus has given this man perfect health.
Matthew 15:28, 9:28-29 – Jesus healed two people who expressed faith in Him.
James 5:14-15 – We should still pray for the sick.
Verse by Verse Commentary
- This woman had this problem for 12 years. Have any of you been sick for 12 years? How about one year? The worst pain in my life was when I had appendicitis. The pain lasted about two days before I had the surgery. It is hard for me to imagine what it must have been like for this lady to have this problem for 12 years. Not only would the hemorrhoids have been quite painful, but it would have also been very inconvenient and kept her from living a normal life. This woman had tried everything that people could do. She was in a desperate situation. She herself was hopeless to solve this problem or find anyone who could. That is the bad news. But the good news is that God is in the business of helping hopeless and desperate people. That is exactly what He does when He saves sinners like you and me.
- The lady had tried to help from many physicians. There is nothing the matter with that. Some cultish groups forbid seeing doctors, but we don’t see similar commands anywhere in the Bible. Jesus Himself told the man with leprosy to go and report his healing to the priest. Also, God often uses people to help other people. So it was not wrong to see physicians and it is still not wrong today. However, we must always remember to ultimately depend on God and not on people. We don’t know from the text what the lady’s attitude was like during these 12 years or whether she was depending on God or not. She very well could have prayed for healing during that time, but God had His timing.
- So why did God wait 12 years to heal her? We do not know the answer to this question. But we know that there are countless people who are in pain and face health issues today who have the same question. How will you answer this question? While we don’t know for sure why God waited, we can see some benefits.
- Firstly, it taught the lady without a shadow of a doubt that God alone could heal her and people could not.
- It led the lady first to hopelessness and then to Christ. Sometimes God may allow us to go through these trials to increase our dependency on Him and reminding us to be humble.
- It provided an opportunity for Christ to do a miracle which in turn glorified God and encouraged more people to believe in Him.
- During those 12 years the lady learned many lessons about God and His character and also had her faith and patience tested. We must always remember that God cares more about our character than our comfort.
- The woman had exhausted every avenue and every hope. But in her despair, she heard of Jesus and knew that He had healed many people. She believed that He could heal her and therefore she left her house and found Jesus in the crowd. She had such a high opinion of Jesus’ power, that she believed she only needed to touch His garment for healing. Would this guarantee healing? What should she have done? The woman seems to have lacked the boldness and straightforwardness of Jairus. She apparently hoped to obtain this healing in secret, perhaps out of fear that Jesus would turn down her request. This does not seem like the right approach. An honest request would probably have been better.
- Yet Jesus did not say, “Why did you not ask me? Because you were afraid to ask you will not be healed. Leave now.” It feels as though the lady was taking advantage of Jesus a little bit by not asking Him first. But Jesus did not condemn her. He knew full well she was approaching and touched His clothes and yet He still consciously decided to heal her. This is an important reminder of Jesus’ compassion and grace which He always showed to other people.
- Application: Jesus often allowed Himself to be taken advantage of. He helped many people who didn’t deserve it. In today’s age people are overly concerned with their own “rights” and go to great lengths to protect these “rights.” We should be more concerned with people than our rights.
- Jesus then asked, “Who touched my garment?” He obviously knew the answer. This is another case where asking was not for His own benefit, but for the listener. If Jesus didn’t say anything the woman would have gone away without ever talking to Him. I believe she would have regretted this for the rest of her life. She would likely have felt some shame and guilt at the way she received her healing and blamed herself for not either asking or thanking Jesus. Here Jesus kindly gives her an opportunity to come clean and take the weight off of her own conscience. To her credit, the woman admitted it. Her fear and trembling shows us that she felt a bit guilty at the way this went down.
- Jesus recognized the ladies’ faith. She did have a lot of faith and this is why Jesus was willing to heal her. He then pronounced a blessing to her “Go and peace and be healed.” Those words would have been like balm to her soul. Not only was she physically healed, but Jesus didn’t hold her poor way of trying to get help against her. Instead He forgave her and sent her away in peace. God is merciful.
How might Jairus and the people around reacted to Jesus’ statement in verse 36?
Why did Jesus only allow those three disciples to go with him into the house?
What did Jesus mean in verse 39 that the child was merely asleep? Had they wrongly concluded she was dead?
How did Jesus respond to their derision? How should we respond when people laugh at us?
How long did Jesus’ miracle take? Why was He say low-key?
How did the people react?
Why did Jesus tell them not to spread this news?
Acts 7:60, 13:36, 1 Thess 4:13-14 – Other places where the Bible mentions falling asleep.
Luke 1:37 – Nothing is impossible for God.
Hebrews 11:1 – Faith is the conviction of things hoped for…
Luke 17:5 – Increase our faith.
John 15:18 – If the world hates you, know that it hated me first.
1 Peter 3:14-17 – Suffer for doing good, not evil.
Hebrews 12:3 – Jesus endured the hostility of sinners.
Luke 6:22 – Suffering for Christ is a blessing.
Verse by Verse Commentary
- During this encounter with the woman, Jairus must have been very nervous. Inside he was likely pleading for Jesus to hurry up! Then news came which confirmed his worst fears. He was too late! His daughter had already passed. At that moment many questions could have sprung up in his mind? Why? Why did he wait so long to ask Jesus for help? Why did Jesus not run when He heard the news? Why did his little one have to die? Many of us may have asked “why?” before. Jairus was able to get answers for his “why,” but we may never know the answer this side of heaven. Will you be willing to trust in God during that most difficult moment? If your child or parent or spouse dies, will you grow bitter against the Lord or trust in His plan for you? Make up your mind now to continue to have faith in God and His loving and merciful character no matter what happens.
- Jesus simply told him to believe. That was an easy thing to ask, but a hard thing to do. His daughter had already died. How could he believe? This is what faith is. Hebrews 11:1. God also asks us to believe when it is not always easy.
- The scene at the house was one of great grief. This child had passed seemingly far before her time was due. Jesus told them that she was merely asleep. This word “sleep” is often used to denote a death that is not permanent. In her case, her death was temporary since Jesus planned to restore her life again.
- The people there did not believe. Rather they laughed at Him. Jesus did not pick up His stuff and leave. He didn’t grow angry. He didn’t argue with them. He basically ignored them and continued on doing what He knew He should do.
- What do you do when people laugh at you? Do you change your actions and try to blend in? Do you take it personally? Do you throw insults back at them? What should we do?
- Jesus then raised her up again. His command could not be ignored, even by a lifeless body. His authority extends to life and death. The girl immediately got up and the people were shocked. Their laughs were instantly gone as Jesus had silenced them. The same will be true of people who laugh at believers today. It might take longer, but one day their laughs will be gone.
- Jesus told them not to share this news out. It was likely for the same reason He gave this command before, that is He didn’t want too many crowds around which would prevent Him from fulfilling His preaching ministry.
More to come soon
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