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Matthew 9:14-26

Let us mark, in this passage, the gracious name by which the Lord Jesus speaks of himself. He calls himself “the bridegroom”

What the bridegroom is to the bride, the Lord Jesus is to the souls of all who believe in him. He loves them with a deep and everlasting love. He takes them into union with himself: they are “one with Christ and Christ in them.” He pays all their debts to God; he supplies all their daily needs; he sympathizes with them in all their troubles; he bears with all their infirmities, and does not reject them for a few weaknesses. He regards them as part of himself: those that persecute and injure them are persecuting him. The glory that he has received from his Father they will one day share with him, and where he is, there shall they be. Such are the privileges of all true Christians, they are the Lamb’s wife ( 19:7 ). Such is the portion to which faith admits us. By it God joins our poor sinful souls to one precious Husband; and those whom thus joins together shall never be put asunder. Blessed indeed are they that believe.

Let us mark in the next place, what a wise principle the Lord Jesus lays down for the treatment of young disciples.

There were some who found fault with our Lord’s followers because they did not fast as John the Baptist’s disciples did. Our Lord defends his disciples with an argument full of deep wisdom. He shows that there would want of fitness in their fasting so long as he, their Bridegroom, was with them. But he does not stop there. He goes on to show, by two parables, that young beginners in the school of Christianity must be dealt with gently. They must be taught as they are able to bear: they must not be expected to receive everything at once. To neglect this rule would be as unwise as to “put new wine into old bottles” piece of new cloth to an old garment.”

There is a mine of deep wisdom in this principle, which all would do well to remember in the spiritual teaching of those who are young in experience. We must be careful not to attach an excessive importance to the lesser things of religion; we must not be in a hurry to require a minute conformity to one rigid rule in things indifferent, until the first principles of repentance and faith have been thoroughly learned. To guide us in this matter, we have need to pray for grace and Christian common sense. Tact in dealing with young disciples is a rare gift, but a very useful one. To know what to insist on as absolutely necessary from the first—and what to reserve, as a lesson to be learned when the learner has come to more perfect knowledge—is one of the highest attainments of a teacher of souls.

Let us mark in the next place, what encouragement our Lord gives to the humblest faith.

We read in this passage that a woman sorely afflicted with disease came behind our Lord in the crowd, and “touched the hem” of his garment in the hope that by so doing she should be healed. She said not a word to obtain help; she made no public confession of faith; but she had confidence that if she could only “touch his garment” she would be made well. And so it was. There lay hid in that act of hers a seed of precious faith, which obtained our Lord’s commendation. She was made whole at once, and returned home in peace. To use the words of a good old writer, “she came trembling, and went back triumphing.”

Let us store up in our minds this history; it may perhaps help us mightily in some hour of need. Our faith may be feeble; our courage may be small; our grasp of the Gospel, and its promises, may be weak and trembling—but, after all, the grand question is, Do we really trust only in Christ? Do we look to Jesus, and only to Jesus, for pardon and peace? If this be so, it is well. If we may not touch his garment, we can touch his heart. Such faith saves the soul. Weak faith is less comfortable than strong faith: weak faith will carry us to heaven with far less joy than full assurance; but weak faith gives an interest in Christ as surely as strong faith. He that only touches the hem of Christ’s garment shall never perish.

In the last place let us mark in this passage our Lord’s almighty power. He restores to life someone who was dead.

How wonderful that sight must have been! Who that has ever seen the dead can forget the stillness, the silence, the coldness, when the breath has left the body? Who can forget the awful feeling that a mighty change has taken place, and a mighty gulf been placed between ourselves and the departed? But behold! Our Lord goes to the chamber where the dead person lies, and calls the spirit back to its earthly tabernacle. The pulse once more beats; the eyes once more see; the breath once more comes and goes. The ruler’s daughter is once more alive, and restored to her father and mother. This was omnipotence indeed! None could have done this but he who first created man, and has all power in heaven and earth.

This is the kind of truth we can never know too well. The more clearly we see Christ’s power, the more likely we are to realise Gospel peace. Our position may be trying; our hearts may be weak; the world may be difficult to journey through; our faith may seem too small to carry us home; but let us take courage when we think on Jesus, and let us not be cast down. Greater is He that is for us than all they that are against us. Our Saviour can raise the dead; our Saviour is almighty.

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