The Touch of a Father’s Hand

The touch of a Father’s hand

Matthew 9:18-26

Dr. Jim Denison

Fathers deserve a day.

A father came home from work to find his little girl brushing the dog’s teeth with his toothbrush. He was horrified, and asked her what she was doing. She said, “Oh, don’t worry, daddy, I’ll put it back like I always do.”

Today is Father’s Day–the Christmas of tie makers. How many neckties would you guess will be given to fathers today? 12,600 miles. That’s enough ties tied end-to-end to cross the country six times, with enough left over for 800,000 men to wear to church today.

Fathers need encouragement, for ours is the most important privilege and job there is. It is altogether appropriate that Father’s Day be observed each year on a Sunday. What does our Father say to fathers like me today?

A story to know

Jesus and his disciples are in Capernaum, a booming fishing city on the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee. As our story opens, “A ruler cam and knelt before him and said, ‘My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live'” (v. 18). This was a synagogue ruler, the most significant religious authority in the city. Luke’s Gospel tells us that his name was Jairus and that his daughter was 12 years old.

Hearing this, “Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples” (v. 19). He had been seated while he taught the people, as was customary in their day. He then adjourned his message and left with the synagogue ruler.

He came to Jairus’ home, where he saw “the flute players and the noisy crowd” (v. 23). Excavations in Capernaum have uncovered a large home adjacent to the synagogue; this was probably Jairus’ home.

When a family member died, Jews were required to hire at least two flute players and one woman to mourn their dead; this was something like hiring a mortuary service to care for the deceased today.

Jesus told them, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” They laughed and mocked him (v. 24), but he put them outside, took the girl by the hand, and raised her back to life (v. 25). This was a miracle as great as the raising of Lazarus and his own resurrection.

Principles to practice

What does our miracle teach us today? First, it shows us that the best gift a father can give his family is to bring them to Jesus.

This father, the pastor of the largest synagogue in Galilee, “knelt” before this itinerant Galilean rabbi and trusted his daughter to his care. The best thing I can do for my wife and sons is to bring them to Christ.

What does your family need today? Financial help? Encouragement? Healing? Guidance? Give them to Jesus. Pray for them, today and every day.

What does your father need this morning? Bring him to Jesus. And know that your Father’s strength will sustain your father today.

Second, we learn to give our family the sacrifice which love requires.

This ruler risked the scorn of the people and rejection of the religious authorities. He could have lost his job and status in the community. But he put his daughter ahead of himself, making the sacrifice which love requires.

A priest surveyed the children in his parish, asking them which they would choose: time with television or with their father. 92% chose time with their fathers.

A little boy asked his hard-working father how much he made per hour. His father was tired, and upset with his son’s question. Finally he said, “I make $20 an hour.” The boy then asked, “Then could I borrow $9?” His irritated father gave him the money. The excited boy said, “Daddy, I have $20 now. Can you play with me for an hour?”

Third, we learn to model what we teach. As the ruler worshiped Jesus personally, his family had his example to follow.

It’s been said, “Until a boy is fifteen he does what his father says; after that he does what his father does.” One child development expert said it well: “No child will think more of God than he thinks of his own father.”

I cannot lead children further than I am spiritually. My sons will become what I am more than what I say, and I speak for a living.

So, model consistent integrity for them. I once heard a youth camp speaker say, “Refuse to do in private what you fear to do in public.” If your children had exactly your personal integrity, would that be a good thing?

There is a story about a frontier preacher and his two sons found a stray dog and decided to keep it. The dog was coal black except for three white hairs on his tail. One day they saw an ad in the local paper for a lost dog which fit their stray perfectly, including those three white hairs. With the help of his boys, the preacher carefully pulled out the three white hairs.

A few days later the owner heard that the preacher had a dog like his and came by. But he couldn’t find the three white hairs, so he had to give him up. Later the preacher wrote, “I kept the dog, but I lost my boys.” Their names were Frank and Jesse James.


Do you have a father who is close to God? Have you thanked God, and thanked him? Do you have a father who needs to be closer to God? Have you prayed for him?

Are you blessed with the privilege of fatherhood? Never sell short the influence of your life on the eternal souls of your children. This is life’s greatest responsibility, and privilege. Ask God to help you be the father he wants you to be.

A group of botanists hiking in the Alps found a very rare flower. It was growing on a ledge of rock which could be reached only at great peril and with a lifeline. None were experienced climbers, so they found a local shepherd boy and offered him several gold coins to climb down the rope and retrieve the flower.

The boy wanted the money, but feared that the job was too dangerous. He would have to trust strangers to hold his lifeline. Suddenly he had an idea. He left the group, and returned a moment later holding the hand of a much older man. He ran with excitement to the edge of the cliff and said to the botanists, “You can tie the rope under my arms now. I’ll go into the canyon, as long as you let my father hold the rope.”

Whose rope is in your hand today?