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Healing On The Way

Luke 8:40 -- 56

Lesson audio

It is rather rare that the authors of the Gospels mingle two stories together. We must presume that this is meant for our instruction.

And as Jesus returned, the people welcomed Him, for they had all been waiting for Him. And there came a man named Jairus, and he was an official of the synagogue; and he fell at Jesus' feet, and began to implore Him to come to his house; for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. But as He went, the crowds were pressing against Him. And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. And Jesus said, "Who is the one who touched Me?" And while they were all denying it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You." But Jesus said, "Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me." When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace." While He was still speaking, someone *came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, "Your daughter has died; do not trouble the Teacher anymore." But when Jesus heard this, He answered him, "Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she will be made well." When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl's father and mother. Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, "Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep." And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died. He, however, took her by the hand and called, saying, "Child, arise!" And her spirit returned, and she got up immediately; and He gave orders for something to be given her to eat. Her parents were amazed; but He instructed them to tell no one what had happened.

(Luke 8:40-56 NASB)

The Approach

We must begin with a presumption: Jairus is, as he appears, a man of ordinary righteousness. He’s doing the best he can as an elder of the synagogue. But there are certain dangers for those who live such a life:

  • There is the danger that “to know” will substitute for “to do” – if you know a lot, anyway.
  • It’s easy to feel that you “have it made.” After all, God listens to me; people respect me.
  • Sometimes, it’s easy to feel superior to others. Especially if things are going well, it’s easy to see yourself as deserving God’s blessing where others do not. You feel superior – in a loving way, of course.

God takes such a man and, for reasons known only to God, humbles him. He finds that his righteous conduct does not immunize him from trouble and tragedy. His knowledge of the Law may be superior – but your kids are your kids.

That’s often the way God teaches his teachers. When he does, the first question you have is, “Why me?” God is not inclined to gratify your curiosity, nor justify his actions to you. He is Lord God Almighty, and it is well to remember that.

Indeed, the true servant of God must know how to deal with this situation.

  • He must accept, indeed embrace, God’s humbling. It is most certainly a sign that God loves you, and that you are indeed his child.
  • He must then seek God’s face. It is almost unavoidable to ask “why me?”, but there are other questions as well.
  • He must then ask and expect an answer. God will not leave us rudderless and adrift

The Example

It is clear, I think, that the timing of this woman’s healing, and her testimony of that healing, were done to increase the faith of Jairus. It is remarkable how we think faith to be something you either have or you don’t – when God tells us that if we lack faith, we should ask. When the Apostles cried, “Lord, increase our faith,” Jesus replied with the parable of the mustard seed.

The situation of this woman must be understood if we are to see what an example she would be. According to the Law, this woman would be unclean – she and everything she touched – constantly. Since the flow of blood did not end, neither did her uncleanness. Mark tells us that she has gone from one doctor to the next, using up her money. So she’s an outcast, she’s broke – and she’s heard about this teacher. All she has to go on is a name and a reputation. Her approach, therefore, is something like magic. She imagines to herself that all she has to do is touch his cloak – then she will be healed.

Note, please, that her theology is a little out of whack. Christ’s cloak is not a magic talisman. But under the theology is that which God rewards: faith. Our theology should be as correct as we can make it – but remember that God seeks those who have faith, and rewards them. That she has; that she uses.

Christ’s response

Who touched me? As the disciples point out, from the world’s point of view, how could you tell? Look at this crowd! But Jesus knows the power has gone out from him for healing. That power rides the cables of faith.

Why did Jesus ask this question? Most likely the answer is this: he wanted those around (especially Jairus) to hear her testimony. It’s a small town; everybody knew her (and knew to stay away).

Her testimony is given in fear. She is unclean (and therefore not supposed to touch anyone, let alone a distinguished visiting rabbi) and she is unauthorized – for Christ did not give his permission or his command. But testify she does; she is the witness of her own blessing. We would do well to follow the example; we are the world’s most expert witnesses for what Christ has done for us.

Christ replies, and we can see three things from his reply:

  • “Daughter.” The very word would be music to a woman who is unclean. A member of the family once again! Back with her own family, back with the family of God. It is the word of welcome.
  • “Your faith has made you well.” See the humility of Christ! See also the encouragement Christ gives to the faithful; this is grand news for those who wait in faith. Jesus honors faith in God.
  • “Go in peace.” It is not sufficient simply to heal; he assures her that the days ahead will not be loaded with terror, but with the peace of God.
The personal touch

May we pause here for some obvious points of instruction for Christians today?

  • Above all else, we must touch the person of Jesus – or as we might say it today, we must have a personal relationship with Christ.
  • If we do, we shall be blessed. Not on the whim of God, but based upon his eternal, unchanging character.
  • When we are blessed, not only does Christ know it – others should know it too. We should be the witnesses to our blessings for our Lord.

The Miracle

The world has a way with bad news. Are these folks just a little anxious to get the word to the man? The kid’s dead, stop bothering the teacher.

Teacher – the word is seldom used for one of power. But it is something Christ did continually. Here has taught Jairus:

  • He taught him that the power of God is within Jesus – it is his, by right. It is not something applied externally by God; it is internal to God.
  • He sees that this power is connected with faith.
  • He sees that this Jesus is one who knows things others could never find out.

Jesus has three messages for Jairus:

  • “Don’t be afraid” – fear hinders faith. Fear looks to the future with dread; faith looks to the future with hope.
  • “Only believe” – nothing else is required to touch the heart of God.
  • “She will be made well” – a promise. Can it be kept?

One note on the local culture: the mourners are paid professionals. Much like we hire a funeral home to handle matters, at this time people had paid mourners to express their grief. It seems strange to us, but it was not to them.

These are the ones who laugh at Jesus. His reply is curious: “She has not died, but is asleep.” These folks have participated in many funerals, so they laugh. But note please that Jesus describes this miracle as a fact. He is the great “I AM” – what to us is prophecy is to him simply fact.

The miracle itself seems simply done. It is by word and touch – just as you would comfort a human being. Christ takes no troubles to advertise this; the list of those who saw it is small – probably because it was a small room. The facts would soon be evident.

One last: notice the practical instructions – feed the kid. Our Lord does not dwell long on the miracle; he commands us to do what we can do in service to him.


May I send you away with three main points?

  • God teaches his servants in their humility – for it is then they are most likely to learn.
  • Faith is the core of the matter; and that faith is a personal one – believing in the person Jesus, the Christ.
  • When God says it is so, even if it hasn’t happened yet, it is so – no matter what “they” say.

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