Luke 8: 40 – 56 Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a sick woman
Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.’
But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’
Then the woman, seeing she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’
While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ he said. ‘Don’t bother the teacher anymore.’
Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe and she will be healed.’
When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. ‘Stop wailing,’ Jesus said. ‘She is not dead but asleep.’
They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.
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Wow! What a rich passage!
Jairus, a synagogue leader begs Jesus to come and heal his daughter who is dying. Jesus, full of compassion, sets off to Jairus’ house. The crowd around him is so dense, and so eager for his presence, that he and the disciples risk being crushed.
On their way, they pass a woman with a persistent issue of blood. There were very serious consequences to her condition. The clinical side would have been bad enough, with the woman suffering pain and anaemia. The social consequences were maybe even worse. She was always ritually unclean, which would have cut her off from all worship activities and many social ones too. Leviticus 15: 25 – 30 describes the restrictions her condition laid upon her.
Mark 5: 26 tells us that she had spent all her money on medical treatment, which had been worse than useless. She was desperate. Jesus was her last chance. She wriggled and squirmed her way through the crowd until she was close. Should she ask Jesus to heal her? If he touched her, he would be ritually unclean. Surely he wouldn’t want that! Perhaps if she just could just touch the edge of his cloak? At any moment one of her neighbours might see her and denounce her as unclean. She stretched out her hand and touched the cloak.
She knew immediately that she had been healed. What went through her mind at that moment, I wonder? A great sense of freedom, I should imagine, but what else? She had taken something from Jesus without asking. She had stolen her healing. She had stolen from the Son of God.
Jesus doesn’t let her off the hook; or perhaps I should say, Jesus wants to absolve her of the guilt of her action.
‘Who touched me?’ he asks.
There are two people in the crowd who knew what had happened; Jesus, and the woman. The disciples are incredulous. People are packed around them, and yet Jesus is saying ‘Who touched me?’ Jesus has to explain further.He says, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’
The woman comes to him, trembling, and throws herself at his feet. ‘What will happen to me?’ she must have thought. In front of the crowd she has to confess what she has done. And Jesus says, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’
There is no criticism, no admonition to ask before taking something, just the loving confirmation of her healing. What wonderful grace, undeserved and without reservation!
While all this is going on, a messenger comes from Jairus and tells them not to bother the teacher any further. Jairus’ daughter is dead. Jesus, though, knows that God intends to heal the child, and he tells the parents not to be afraid, but to believe and she will be healed. When he tells the crowd to stop wailing because the girl is not dead but asleep, they mock him.
When they arrive at Jairus’ home, Jesus only admits Peter, John and James, and the girl’s mother and father. Then he simply tells the girl to get up – and she does. “Give her something to eat,” says Jesus to the parents. I wonder if that was to give them something practical to do, to bring home the reality of the miracle?
The narrative finishes with a strange instruction by Jesus to the parents “he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.”
Jesus was happy for most miracles to be spoken about widely, for example, yesterday we read about the Gerasene demoniac who was told to return home and tell how much God had done for him. Why then should Jesus wish for this miracle to be hidden?
Perhaps the answer is to do with timing. St John says that the chief priests and the Pharisees decided to kill Jesus when they realised how dangerous his surging popularity was. (John 11: 45 – 53) The main factor in the decision was the raising of Lazarus from the dead. It’s possible that a miracle like the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead would have had a similar result, only too early for God’s plan.
I have found reading about these two miracles enormously encouraging. They have the ring of truth about them. Thank you, Lord, for sharing these words with me!
Thank you for the love that you show us through the life and works of Jesus. Help us to expect you to work miracles in our lives, just as you did in Galilee so many years ago.
In Jesus’ name, Amen