Luke 8: 40-56
A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed
Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.
As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.’ When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’
While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.’ When Jesus heard this, he replied, ‘Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.’ When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, ‘Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.’ And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, ‘Child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.
Yes, this is the third time we are visiting this same scripture – we looked at the two stories; today we want to look at why they are linked. First of all, Jesus had healed an outcast on the other side of the Sea of Galilee – the man who had lived among the tombs was an outcast among a people the Jews would have considered outcasts themselves, people who kept swine! No filthier occupation could be imagined by the Jews.
But now, Jesus has returned to the Jewish side of the sea, and the first person he encounters is a ruler of the synagogue there. Jairus begs Jesus from his knees, just as the man Jesus had healed on the other side did. Jesus begins to go with him – but is pressed about by the crowd.
And then Luke inserts the story of the woman who is bleeding – is it simply because he took the story entirely from Mark? or because that was how it happened? or because he wants to build tension in the story as Jesus is delayed in getting to the girl? I doubt that the answer is as simple as any of these suggestions.
Jairus is accepted, even important, in the community; the woman contrasts – she would have been an outcast. It was impertinent of her to even be in the crowd, much less to approach Jesus. But Jairus’ story moves from requests acceptable to the community (come and heal my child) to a request considered impertinent and absurd by the crowd (the child is dead, but still he wants Jesus to come to her). The people, including Jairus’ servants, thought that the child’s death put her beyond the power of Jesus; only God could raise persons from the dead, and that limited to only the greatest prophets at rare moments. The woman was bleeding for 12 years; the child was 12 years old. The number 12 represents Israel – both the unclean and the dead would be redeemed with the redemption of Israel. The woman was unclean by virtue of her bleeding – the child became unclean when she died. To touch a dead body was to be defiled. And so, Jesus reached across barriers to heal both.
But the most obvious link is faith. The woman had faith enough to defy barriers to seek out Jesus – she truly believed that only touching the fringe of his garment would heal her. When Jairus’ servant tells him the child is dead, Jesus tells him to have faith. And he does – he still takes Jesus to the child; he ignores the mourners outside laughing at Jesus, and continues to believe. Both the child and the woman were healed through faith.