We are studying Matthew 9:18-26 for Sunday, June 21. This is Matthew’s version of Jesus’s healing of a woman with a hemorrhage, and restoring the life of a little girl. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions we might want to consider in our study or discussion:
Matthew’s version of this story has many fewer details than Mark’s or Luke’s version. What kind of difference does this seem to make to us as readers? For instance, what difference does it seem to make whether we know, or don’t know, the name of “the leader” who comes to Jesus, what he’s a leader of, or the age of his daughter? Does this version of the story leave us with a different overall impression than either of the others? Different in what way?
What might Matthew be trying to accomplish with his use of fewer narrative details?
What impressions do we get of Jesus from this story? From his behavior? From what he says? From the way other characters relate to him? Does reading the story this time through give us any new thoughts or feelings about Jesus? What thoughts or feelings?
The “leader” and the “woman” both express confident faith in Jesus’s ability to raise the dead, and to heal persistent illness. Why, do we think?
Why is this faith not shared by the crowd at the leader’s house, do we think?
Do we think this same faith is, or isn’t, shared by the disciples [who have no speaking parts in these stories]? Why do we think that?
How do we understand Jesus’s word to the woman, “Your faith has made you well”? What do we understand that to mean? How does that seem to work for people today?
Overall, it may be worthwhile to focus on the way the story helps Matthew build up a picture of two contrasting responses to Jesus, the trusting response and the skeptical one. What makes the difference, and then what difference does the response make?
Image: “A Family Around a Table,” Julius Paulsen (1919), public domain, via Wikimedia Commons