Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 31: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
MATTHEW 9:18-22; MARK 5:22-34; LUKE 8:40-48
18. While he was speaking these things to them, a certain ruler came, and worshipped him, 526 saying, My daughter is now dead; but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she will live. 19. And Jesus arose, and followed him, and likewise his disciples, 20. And, lo, a woman, who had been afflicted with a bloody flux for twelve years came behind him, and touched the tuft of his cloak: 21. For she said within herself, If I shall only touch his cloak, I shall be cured. 22. But Jesus turned round, and, when he saw her, he said, Take courage, my daughter; thy faith hath cured thee. And the woman was cured from that time.
22. And, lo, one of the rulers of the synagogue, by name Jarius, came: and when he had seen him, he fell at his feet. 23. And he besought him earnestly, saying, My daughter is at the point of death: I entreat that thou wilt come, and lay thy hands upon her, that she may be cured, and she shall live. 24. And Jesus went away with him: and a great multitude followed him, and they pressed upon him. 25. And a certain woman, who had been subject to a bloody flux for twelve years, 26. And had suffered much from many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and had not at all recovered, but had rather grown worse, 27. When she had heard of Jesus, came in the crowd behind him, and touched his cloak. 28. For she said, If I shall touch but his cloak, I shall be cured. 29. And immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she had been delivered from the scourge. 30. And Jesus suddenly knowing in himself that power had gone out from him, turned round in the crowd, and said, Who touched my clothes? 31. And his disciples said to him, Thou seest the crowd on all sides pressing upon thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 32. And he looked around to see her who who had done this. 33. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had been done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. 34. And he said to her, Daughter, thy faith hath cured thee: go in peace, and be delivered from thy scourge.
40. And it happened, while Jesus was returning, the multitude received him: for they were all waiting for him. 41. And, lo, a man came, whose name was Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue, and fell at the feet of Jesus, beseeching him to enter into his house. 42. For he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But while he was going, the multitudes pressed upon him. 43 And a woman, who had been subject to a bloody flux for twelve years, who had spent all her substance on physicians, and could not be cured by an one, 44. Approached behind, and touched the tuft of his cloak, and immediately her issue of blood was stopped. 45. And Jesus said, Who is it that touched me? And while all were denying, Peter, and those who were with him, said, Master, the multitudes press upon and distress thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 46. And Jesus said, Some person hath touched me: for I know that power hath gone out form me. 47. And the woman seeing that she was not concealed, came trembling, and fell down before his feet, and told him before all the people for what reason she had touched him, and in what manner she had been immediately cured. 48. And he said to her, Take courage, my daughter: thy faith hath cured; go in peace.
Matthew 9:18. While he was speaking these things to them. Those who imagine that the narrative, which is here given by Mark and Luke, is different from that of Matthew, are so clearly refuted by the passage itself, that there is no necessity for a lengthened debate. All the three agree in saying that Christ was requested by a ruler of the synagogue to enter his house for the purpose of curing his daughter The only difference is, that the name of Jairus, which is withheld by Matthew, is mentioned by Mark and Luke; and that he represents the father as saying, My daughter is dead, while the other two say that she was in her last moments, and that, while he was bringing Christ, her death was announced to him on the road. But there is no absurdity in saying that Matthew, studying brevity, merely glances at those particulars which the other two give in minute detail. But since all the other points agree with such exactness, since so many circumstances conspire as to give it the appearance of three fingers stretched out at the same time to point out a single object, there is no argument that would justify us in dividing this history into various dates. The Evangelists agree in relating, that while Christ, at the request of a ruler of the synagogue, was coming to his house, a woman on the road was secretly cured of a bloody flux by touching his cloak; and that afterwards Christ came into the ruler’s house, and raised a dead young woman to life. There is no necessity, I think, for circuitous language to prove that all the three relate the same event. Let us now come to details.
Lo, a certain ruler. Though it is evident from the other two, that his confidence had not advanced so far as to hope that his daughter’s life could be restored, there is no room to doubt that, after having been reproved by Christ, he entertained a stronger hope than when he left his house. But Matthew, as we have said, studies brevity, and puts down at the very beginning of his narrative what took place at various times. The manner in which the history must be arranged is this: Jairus first requested that his daughter might be cured of her disease, and afterwards that she might be restored from death to life; that is, after that Christ had given him courage to do so. Worship, or adoration, is here put for kneeling, as is evident from the words of Mark and Luke: for Jairus did not render divine honor to Christ, 527 but treated him with respect as a prophet of God; and we all know how common a practice kneeling was among eastern nations.
Come and lay thy hand. We have here a bright mirror in which the divine condescension towards us is beheld. If you compare the ruler of the synagogue with the centurion, who was a heathen, (Mt 8:5-10,) you will say that the full brightness of faith shone in the centurion, while scarcely the smallest portion of it was visible in the ruler He ascribes to Christ no power except through his touching the person; and, when he has received information of her death, he trembles as if there were no farther remedy. We see, then, that his faith was feeble and nearly exhausted. Yet Christ yields to his prayers, and encourages him to expect a favorable result, and thus proves to us that his faith, however small it might be, was not wholly rejected. Though we have not such abundance of faith as might be desired, there is no reason why our weakness should drive away or discourage us from prayer.
20. And, lo, a woman who had been afflicted with a bloody flux. For twelve successive years the bloody flux had lasted, and the woman was so far from being negligent in seeking remedies, that she had spent all her substance on physicians All this is expressly stated by the Evangelists, that the miracle may shine with brighter glory. When an incurable disease was removed so suddenly, and by the mere touch of a garment, it is perfectly obvious that it was not accomplished by human power. The thought of the woman that, if she only touched Christ’s garment, she would immediately be cured, arose from an extraordinary impulse of the Holy Spirit, and ought not to be regarded as a general rule. We know how eagerly superstition is wont to sport in foolish and thoughtless attempts to copy the saints; but they are apes, and not imitators, who take up some remarkable example without the command of God, and are led rather by their own senses than by the direction of the Spirit.
It is even possible that there was a mixture of sin and error in the woman’s faith, which Christ graciously bears and forgives. Certainly, when she afterwards thinks that she has done wrong, and fears and trembles, there is no apology for that kind of doubt: for it is opposed to faith. Why did she not rather go straight to Christ? If her reverence for him prevented, from what other source than from his mercy did she expect aid? How comes it, then, that she is afraid of offending him, if she was convinced of his favorable regard?
Yet Christ bestows high commendation on her faith. This agrees with what I have lately noticed, that God deals kindly and gently with his people, — accepts their faith, though imperfect and weak, — and does not lay to their charge the faults and imperfections with which it is connected. It was by the guidance of faith, therefore, that the woman approached to Christ. When she stopped at the garment, instead of presenting herself in prayers that she might be cured, inconsiderate zeal may have drawn her a little aside from the right path; particularly as she soon afterwards shows that she had made the attempt with some degree of doubt and uncertainty. Were we even to grant that this was suggested to her by the Spirit, it still remains a fixed rule, that our faith must not be driven hither and thither by particular examples, but ought to rest wholly on the word of God, according to the saying of Paul, Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, (Ro 10:17.) This is a highly necessary warning, that we may not dignify with the name of faith any opinion which has been rashly embraced.
Luke 8:45. Who is it that touched me, Mark expresses it still more clearly, when he says that Christ looked around to see who she was. It does appear to be absurd that Christ should pour out his grace without knowing on whom he was bestowing a favor. There is not less difficulty in what he shortly afterwards says, that he perceived that power had gone out from him: as if, while it flowed from him, it was not a free gift bestowed at those times, and on those persons, whom he was pleased to select. Beyond all question, he knowingly and willingly cured the woman; and there is as little doubt that he drew her to himself by his Spirit, that she might obtain a cure: but he puts the question to her, that she may freely and publicly make it known. If Christ had been the only witness of his miracle, his statements might not perhaps have been believed: but now, when the woman, struck with dread, relates what happened to her, greater weight is due to her confession.
Matthew 9:22. Take courage, my daughter. This expression shows the weakness of her faith for, had there been no impropriety in her trembling, Christ would not have corrected it by exhorting her to take courage Yet, at the same time, he commends her faith; and this supports the view which I have already stated, that, while she sought Christ by the guidance of the Spirit, and from a sincere and pious desire, she hesitated in such a manner as to need to be strengthened. Thus we see that faith, in order to please God, needs forgiveness, and is at the same time sustained by new aid, that it may acquire additional strength. We may here draw a comparison from the health of the body to that of the soul: for, as Christ says that the woman’s deliverance from her disease was the consequence of her faith, so it is certain, that we obtain by faith the forgiveness of sins, which reconciles us to God.
Mark 5:34. Go in peace, and be delivered from thy scourge. From this exhortation we infer that the benefit which she had obtained was fully ratified, when she heard from the lips of Christ what she had already learned from experience: for we do not truly, or with a safe conscience, enjoy God’s benefits in any other way than by possessing them as contained in the treasury of his promises.
“Lequel s'enclina devant lui;” — “who bowed down before him.”
“Car Jairus ne pretendoit pas d'attribuer a Christ un honneur appar-tenant a la majeste Divine;” — “for Jairus did not profess to ascribe to Christ an honor belonging to the Divine majesty.”