The Ruler and His Child
James Smith, 1860
"A ruler came and knelt before Jesus and said: My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live." Matthew 9:18
The miracles of Jesus, are as marvelous displays of mercy, as they are of power. They show his sympathy with man in his sufferings, and his readiness to help him. They prove also the power of prayer in moving the heart of Jesus. Every applicant is heard, and every one received a gracious answer. O what encouragement to pray!
On one occasion a ruler came to him for help, and knelt before Jesus and said, "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live."
The question was once put, "Have any of the rulers believed on him?" Not many — but here was one, and no doubt there were more exercising faith in secret, who were afraid to confess him.
Adverse circumstances often bring out characters, and at times make the timid bold, and the fearful brave. Let us look at this man and his child, we may gather encouragement therefrom.
THE CONDITION. All but dead. How many there are in the church of God in just such a state spiritually. They are not actually dead — but they are all but dead. They give no satisfactory signs of life, and yet we dare not give them up. They seem to have no power in prayer, though they keep up the form of prayer. They have no vigorous faith — but hang in doubt and uncertainty. They have no sweet fellowship with God, or comfortable communion with the saints. They find little or no pleasure in duties, though they perform them. They have no delight in privileges, though they profess to value them. They have no pleasant anticipations of their heavenly home, or desires to depart and be with Christ. They neither look nor long for the glorious coming of the Lord Jesus from Heaven. They are asleep, as the virgins were, and need the hand of Christ to be laid on them, to arouse them, and wake them up out of their sleep.
The child was DEAD. Disease did its work, death seized its prey before Jesus reached the house. How many we have in our homes, congregations, and neighborhoods who are dead. There are no signs of life at all. They can live without prayer, which is the breath of the soul; and surely where there is no breath, there is no life. They have no faith, and faith is the spiritual energy of the soul. They have no activity in God's ways, they put forth no energy in God's cause, nor do they manifest any concern for God's glory. Surely such are dead, and in such cases there is no hope, except Jesus will come and lay his hand upon them.
THE APPLICATION. "My daughter has just died. But come and lay Your hand on her"
The hand of Jesus was a wonder-working hand! It was the instrument and emblem of almighty power. Many things are ascribed to the hand of Jesus in the Word.
It is a life-quickening hand, "He went in and took her by the hand, and the young girl arose." His touch imparted life, strength, and activity to the dead girl.
It is a healing hand, "He laid His hands on the sick, and healed them." His hand expels spiritual diseases, and introduces spiritual health.
It is a saving hand, when Peter was sinking in the sea, Jesus put forth His hand and caught him, and placed him safely in the vessel. He saved Israel of old with His right hand — and His hand saves millions now!
It is a devil-dispossessing hand. When the father brought his demon-possessed boy to Jesus, the devil threw him down and tore him, "but Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up, and he arose." The hand of Jesus expelled the demon, restored him to health, and he went away with his father.
It is a leading hand. He took the blind man by the hand, led him out of the town, and restored his sight.
It is a far-reaching hand, hence He says, "Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver?" "Behold, the Lord's hand is not so short that it cannot save!"
It is a purifying hand, therefore He says, "I will turn My hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities." "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor."
If therefore we need . . .
quickening or healing,
saving or leading,
deliverance from Satan, or
to be purged and purified —
however distant we may seem from Him, or however difficult the work we require to be done — let us go to Jesus, and ask Him to lay His hand upon us, and restore us. In the same way, if any of our families and friends are spiritually dead, let our cry to Jesus be, "Come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live!"
THE CONFIDENCE DISPLAYED. "My daughter has just died. But come and lay your hand on her, and she will live." Jesus possesses the power of life and death, both physically and spiritually. Death in all its forms, flies when he lays on his hand. Then life appears, as in the ruler's child —
the eyes open,
objects are discerned,
the lungs heave,
the appetite returns,
the limbs become active,
the ears catch sounds, and
consciousness is realized.
Just so, when Jesus lays his hand on the dead soul . . .
the eyes of the understanding are enlightened to see wondrous things out of God's Word;
the ears are opened and taught to distinguish the Good Shepherd's voice;
the soul breathes forth prayers and praises to God. It becomes active in God's service and ways — and the consciousness of acceptance in Jesus, and union to Jesus, fills it with joy and peace.
The touch of Jesus is always effectual, and the result is, that the soul lives . . .
for God, as the end of its existence;
to God, as the object it desires to please;
with God, as a kind and loving Father; and
by supplies from God, as the God of all grace and consolation.
See, what sinners need. That Jesus should come and lay his hand upon them! They must be brought into contact with Jesus — or perish. He must put forth his power in them — or they will remain dead in trespasses and sins. Jesus, and Jesus only, will meet the sinner's case. Means and ordinances are all powerless without him — but one touch of his almighty hand will . . .
open blind eyes,
unstop deaf ears,
and raise dead souls!
See then, what we should pray for. That Jesus would come among us in the manifestations of his power and grace. Vain will be our preaching without him. Vain will be our efforts ithout him. We must have the presence of Christ, or our dead will remain dead, and our sleepy ones will remain asleep. But if Jesus comes, then no matter, though the minstrels be present, and the people be making a noise, he will perform the work needed, and bestow the grace required.
See then, what the dull and lifeless should seek — that Jesus would lay his hand on them. This would . . .
quicken all their graces,
invigorate and revive their souls, and
produce a wonderful moral renovation within them.
Then they would renew their strength, mount up as on the wings of eagles, run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.
See, what will effectually revive the church. This is the great need of the times, that the church of God be filled with life, light, and love. Then it will have power to do the will of God, it will perceive clearly the world's needs, and it will be prepared to go forth lovingly to do, to suffer, and to sacrifice whatever may be necessary for its good.
Unsaved sinner, did the ruler go to Jesus for his dying child — and will not you go to him for your never dying soul? The hand of Jesus raised that child from the dead — and the hand of Jesus will deliver you from the second death. He is as able to save you from sin and Hell, as he was to restore her from death. You have every reason to believe that he is as willing to save you. Will you not try him? The ruler did and succeeded; and if you go to him in simplicity, with sincerity, exercising confidence in his word — so will you. He Is not in the habit of refusing sinners when they apply to him, he never was, it is not in his heart to do so — nor will he refuse you. However vile and sinful you may be, however tempted and harassed with doubts and fears — go, lay your case before the Savior — tell him the worst of it, and then cry, "But, come and lay your hand upon me and I shall live!" He will . . .
listen to your prayer,
approve of your confidence,
and grant your request.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He . . .
raises dead souls,
quickens dying souls,
revives drooping souls,
comforts sorrowful souls,
and saves lost souls!
Go to Jesus then, be you what you may, and feel as you may — go and plead with him, and through eternity you will rejoice that you did so.