Matthew 9:18 & 19 says this: “While He was saying these things to them, behold, a synagogue official came and bowed down before Him, and said, ‘My daughter has just died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will become alive again.’ Jesus got up from the table and began to accompany him, along with His disciples.”
Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention the incident recorded in this passage. Matthew’s habit is to leave out some details and not necessarily group stories in chronological order. Instead, he often arranges similar stories in blocks, to fit particular topics or themes.
The ruler who knelt before Jesus to beg for his daughter’s healing was a man named Jairus, a ruler of the Jewish synagogue (Mark 5:22). Matthew also shows the man telling Jesus that his daughter is already dead. Luke, though, describes the man’s only daughter, about 12, as “dying” (Luke 8:42). By the time Jesus gets to Jairus’s house, the girl is dead. Most likely, messengers arrived during the exchange to let him know the sad news.
Like the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant (Matthew 8:5–13), this synagogue ruler also humbles himself and shows faith in Jesus’ power to heal. Unlike most of the other Jewish religious leaders we see, Jairus does not want to judge or accuse Jesus. He simply believes in Jesus’ power to heal and wants his daughter to live.
There is a stark difference between Jairus and the centurion, however. The centurion understood that Jesus could heal with a word without having to be near the sick person. Jairus, so it seems, is convinced Jesus will need to put His hand on the girl for her to be made well.
In this instance, Jesus does not hesitate to respond to a request for physical healing. His mission on earth included healing God’s people and freeing them from demon possession. The purpose of this is to demonstrate truth: Matthew showed previously that these miracles fulfilled prophesy, providing even more evidence that Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 8:17).
This event likely takes place in Capernaum, Jesus’ adopted hometown (Matthew 4:13). This is probably where Jairus served as an authority in the Jewish synagogue. We know from Luke that Jairus’s only daughter is about 12 years old (Luke 8:41–42). Jairus kneels before Jesus to ask for help. Matthew quotes him as saying the girl has “just died,” while Mark and Luke understand him to have said that she is dying. Most likely, messengers arrived to give the man sad news as he was speaking to Jesus.
Jesus gets up, probably from reclining around the dinner table, and heads toward Jairus’s house with His disciples.
He came to heal. He came to show people the power of God here on Earth. He does not delay but gets up and walks with the man to the girl.
How often do we delay in getting ourselves right, getting ourselves healed of the things that pull us away from Jesus?