While Jesus was saying these things, a synagogue ruler came and knelt before Him. "My daughter has just died," he said. "But come and place Your hand on her, and she will live."
I. THE APPEAL.
1. The applicator. A ruler. Rulers were slow to believe in Christ. But some from almost every class were found among his disciples. Distress breaks down pride and shatters prejudices. They who would never seek Christ in prosperity may be found crying out for his help in trouble.
2. The object. The ruler asks for his child a favour which possibly he would have been too proud to have sought for himself. Suffering children touch the hearts of all. One such here touched the heart of Jesus.
3. The occasion. The child is nearly dead. It looks as though the father had tried every other remedy before applying to the great Healer. Many will only turn to Christ as a last resort. Yet much distress would be saved if men and women would seek him first, not last.
II. THE RESPONSE. Jesus arose and followed the ruler. He had been seated before, for be had been teaching. The ruler had interrupted his discourse. But Jesus did not, care for this; he was always ready to respond to the cry for help. We never read of his refusing to go anywhere but once, and then the invitation was to a king's palace, and the object of it was only the satisfaction of a superficial worldling's empty curiosity. All genuine appeals were met at once.
III. THE DELAY. Jesus was hindered on the way by another case of distress. This must have tried the poor father's patience most terribly, for it would have just given time for the sick child to die. And, indeed, this seems to have been the case. During the slow approach of Jesus the child died. But the poor suffering woman had as much claim on Christ as the great ruler. He is no respecter of persons. He is never in a hurry. He has time and sympathy for all comers.
IV. THE REBUKE. Jesus found the house in all the uproar that resulted from the performance of a band of hired mourners. This disgusted him. We should consider such a performance in the house of death most unseemly. To Christ it was worse. It was a part of that empty formalism that he met at every turn. Its hollowness and unreality offended him. Moreover, in so far as it had a meaning, this was not one that he could encourage. The wild abandonment of despair is not Christian. It is not the language of faith. Better is Job's calm expression of resignation, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord" (Job 1:21).
V. THE REVELATION. The damsel is not dead. To Jesus there is no death but sin and its doom. An innocent child's passing away is but a falling asleep. Christ has transformed death. The grim shadow has melted into an angel of God, who giveth his beloved sleep.
VI. THE SECLUSION. The great work of. Christ cannot be carried out amid the uproar of the hired mourners. He shuns our noisy, fussy gatherings. Artificiality and pretence are quite incompatible with his presence. When he works wonders it is with those who believe in him.
VII. THE RESURRECTION. Jesus lays hold of the cold little hand of the dead child. In a moment his wonderful life-power thrills through her, and she sits up alive again. No need is too hard for him who could raise the dead. Even now his great compassion goes out to dead souls, and a touch of his hand brings life. - W.F.A.
New wine into old bottles.
1. As old cloth and new cloth are one in being cloth, old wine and new are one in being wine; so the religion before Christ and that which He introduced are essentially one in kind, if not in quality.
2. The effect of the forced junction of the old and new would be injurious to both.
(D. Fraser, D. D.)
1. Because a bottle is a proper receptacle of liquor, so is the heart of man a proper receptacle of Divine knowledge, grace, joy, etc.
2. Because a bottle of itself is an empty thing, and must be filled; so the heart of man is naturally empty of good.
3. Because a broken bottle cannot hold new wine, nor can an unrenewed heart hold saving peace, joy, etc.
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