Marriage in Matthew 9?
St. Matthew 9:18-26
November 14, 2021 anno Domini
From beginning to end the Bible is about marriage. Marriage between one man and one woman. That’s because marriage and the saving work of Jesus are intimately connected. He loves His bride to death so He can take her home. As I said a few weeks ago if you mess with marriage you mess with Jesus. You cannot approve of homosexuality or transgenderism and still preach Christ and Him crucified. It is impossible to bless sin and preach forgiveness of sin.
Looking at today’s text you might wonder if I was wandered off theologically in my deer stand this week? How in the world could you find marriage in today’s Gospel reading? It’s found in a little point that Saint Matthew tells us about the bleeding woman. She touched the fringe of His garment. In the Old Testament God told the Israelites to put tassels at the four corners of their garments. When a man put the corner of his garment over a woman that was engagement. Check out Ruth and Boaz on the threshing floor for an example.
In case you are still unconvinced consider the years of affliction the bleeding woman endured and the age of the young girl who was sick and then died. Twelve years. Twelve is the number of the church. The Old Testament church was made up of the 12 tribes of Israel. The New Testament church was founded on the doctrine of the 12 apostles. In Revelation the church militant is portrayed as 12 x 12 x 10 x 10 x 10. Two twelves for the Old and New Testament church. Three Tens for the three persons of the Trinity in their fullness. 144,000.
Here’s the good news proclaimed in today’s text, preached in terms of marriage. If you want a good marriage, you need a good man and in Jesus, the Church has the perfect marriage.
Twelve years is a long time for a woman to suffer with bleeding. In Biblical times a woman was unclean for 7 days following her monthly cycle. If she continually bled, she was continually unclean. That meant no one could have any contact with her. She was like a leper. She may have been able to stay in her home, but no one could come near her, nor could she hug her children or kiss her husband or go to Home Goods. Saint Mark tells us she maxed out her health insurance at Centracare. She went to every clinic, saw every specialist, and probably tried home remedies off the internet. None of it worked. Doctors and medicines are wonderful gifts from God. You could not expect to live into your 80s and 90s if it were not for the gift of healing and those who have the gift, but there are medical problems no doctor can heal or medicine cure. This woman’s bleeding was such an affliction. In that way her bleeding was like the sin with which we are afflicted. No amount of treatment or therapy or spiritual exercise will undo your sin. You cannot stop your sin or keep your sin from killing you. Learn from the bleeding woman. There’s only one hope when you’re hopeless. His name is Jesus. She heard about Him. She believed in Him. And she didn’t just touch Him, for some reason, both Matthew and Luke tell us this, “she touched the fringe of His garment.” The tassel on the corner, the engagement ring if you will.
She believed that being united to Jesus would heal her. It wasn’t enough to see Him. She must touch Him and particularly that tassel on the corner. She loved Jesus. She gave her bleeding to Jesus, and He gave her healing. That’s what happens when you are united to Jesus by faith. He takes your sin and gives you His righteousness. He takes your infirmities and gives you health. He takes your death and gives you life. Cancer will not have the last word in your life. Jesus will. You will not die but live with Jesus joyfully ever after. You won’t be alone, but together with Jesus and all who believe in Him. In Jesus you’ve got a man who completely takes care of His bride.
There are also marriage allusions in Jesus’ visit to the 12 year old girl. Here again Matthew mentions something unique. (read vs. 23). Except on one occasion in Scripture flutes are for celebrating. So why are there flute players at this death? The context of Matthew is helpful. Immediately before the text Jesus teaches why His disciples do not fast. Jesus says, (read vs. 15). The Church’s bridegroom has arrived in Jesus and that is cause for rejoicing, for feasting, not fasting. Then a few chapters later Jesus chastises His generation for rejecting Him and John the Baptist and He does so with these Words, (read Matt 11:17). John came calling people to mourn their sins and prepare for Jesus’ coming and instead they danced. Jesus came playing the sweet flute of forgiveness and they heard it like a funeral dirge.
The flutes at the young girl’s funeral may indeed have been played by mourners, but they actually proclaimed a wedding feast. Jesus came to this dead young girl, and He took her by the hand. Dare we say He took her hand in the marriage of faith. She was like Israel, like us, like all sinners, dead in her trespasses and sins. Jesus brought her back to life.
What can a dead person do? No matter how many tears and pleas and bargains her earthly father made his daughter was dead. Before she died the father heard of Jesus. For the first time in history a dad said there’s a man good enough for my daughter. Jesus was indeed too good for anyone, but He came for this 12 year old girl. He came for you.
Jesus was on His way when they were delayed by the bleeding woman. Then came news that the girl was dead, but Jesus is the groom above grooms. Even death cannot part you from Him. He takes the girl by her hand and brings her to life. Saint Luke tells us that immediately after she was raised, she began to eat and why not – let the wedding feast begin.
There is one last word from this wedding of Matthew 9 that we dare not ignore. Jesus kicked everyone out of the house. Only a few enjoyed the wedding. Those who laughed at Him and mocked Him were not there when He raised the young girl to life. It is reminiscent of the parable of the wedding banquet when that one man tried to sit down for the feast in his Carhartt coveralls straight from the barn and he was thrown out.
In the last few years, I have heard troubling reports of secret marriages performed by Lutheran pastors. A young couple is living together but wants a big church wedding, so the pastor secretly marries them, no license from the state, no public recognition by the church or their friends. The pastor thinks he can then marry them officially in good conscience. Or an old couple is living together because she doesn’t want to lose her first husband’s social security check and his kids don’t want her to get their dad’s money. A wayward pastor marries them “in the eyes of the church” but without a state wedding license, once again without it being a public and legal proclamation. Such games for sin and money are unchristian and dangerous. You cannot have a secret wedding anymore than you can have a secret faith. You cannot be united to Jesus by faith and not be united to Him when He brings His wedding gifts to you, when He comes in His Word and in His Supper. You cannot be with Jesus and still having a good time with sin. If that is the way you try to live with Jesus, He’ll kick you out of the house at the resurrection.
So there it is, the marriage of Jesus and you according to Matthew 9. He’s a good man, the best man ever, the only true man since Adam, and He has come for you, to give you everything He alone has, healing, cleansing, forgiveness, life, and the resurrection. That’s the marriage of faith in the name of Jesus. Amen.