“Harmonizing Matthew 9.18; Mark 5.22; Luke 8.41”

Categories: In the Bulletin

When we read the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) we must remember they are written with differing audiences in mind and from the perspectives of three unique men. Sometimes there are small differences between their accounts, but nothing so substantial as to change the impact of meaning of the story. In today’s sermon text we observe a supposed discrepancy between Matthew 9.18 and Mark 5.22 / Luke 8.41.

Matthew records the words of Jairus: my daughter has just died. Mark says that Jairus said, my little daughter is at the point of death. Luke writes she was dying. So which is it? Was she dead or alive?

Here is a possible way to order the events for harmony:

  1. Jairus comes … falls at His feet and implores Jesus: my little daughter is at the point of death. See Mark 5.22-23 and Luke 8.41-42a.
  2. Luke 8.42b - Jesus begins to head to Jairus’ house.
  3. Luke 8.43-48 / Mark 5.25-34 - The woman with the issue of blood interrupts Jesus, who is on His way to heal the little girl.
  4. Luke 8.49 / Mark 5.35 - Servants approach, informing Jairus that his daughter has died and not to trouble Jesus.
  5. Matthew 8.18 - Now, Jairus says his daughter has just died.
  6. Mark 8.36 / Luke 8.50 - Jesus tells Jairus: Do not fear, only believe.
  7. Matthew 8.23 / Mark 8.37 / Luke 8.51 - Jesus arrives at the house and raises the girl from the dead.

Others just suggest that Jairus’ statement in Matthew 9.18 is just a figure of speech, my daughter is as good as dead, etc. I won’t bore you with the other explanations I found, but I don’t think this so-called discrepancy is something we should lose sleep over.

No matter how you read the synoptics, the basic story is the same. Our Savior is willing to condescend to our greatest needs. When life comes at you hard, will you allow your desperation to drive you to Jesus? He’ll supply you with your greatest needs. Will you trust Him?

— Matthew Allen