This is one of the most poignant biblical accounts for me. Perhaps even more effective since it is told from Luke’s perspective, who was a doctor, because there’s a couple of medical issues here. Luke gave *detailed* accounts. (I like that in a Gospel writer). Like many Bible stories, this one challenges me. We learn about another of Jesus’ miracles here, but even more so, we (or at least I) learn about the power of faith.
The account opens with Jesus’ coming back to Galilee, from the region of the Gerasenes. This is after the account of Jesus curing the demon-possessed man. The account tells us that the man was not possessed by one evil spirit, but by many, a Legion (Luke 8:30). (To me, demon-possession is like mice-infestation. As anyone who has dealt with the inconvenience of having mice in their house can tell you, a house does not simply have *one* solitary mousey living in it. When a mouse finds a place to live where it’s warm and can find nourishment, a whole horde comes with it and can create a bloody and potentially destructive nuisance, if proper action is not taken. So, too, a similar event takes place with demon-possession. But I digress.)
When Jesus returns to Galilee, he is met by a crowd, from which emerges a synagogue leader, Jairus, whose 12-year old daughter is ill and dying. Jesus accompanies Jairus to his home. On the way, a woman who has been suffering from hemorrhaging for 12 years with no relief from doctors, touches Jesus’ cloak in the throngs of people and is immediately cured! Jesus stops when He felt the power flow out from Him (I love that!) and asks, “Who touched me?” The newly-healed woman could’ve run away at this point, but she falls to her knees and explains what happened. Jesus tells her that her faith has healed her and to “go in peace”.
Right after that, someone from Jairus’ household shows up and tells Jairus that his daughter has died and there’s no need to trouble Jesus any longer. Jesus tells Jairus to have faith and they continue on to Jairus’ home. When they arrive at the house, the mourners laugh and mock Jesus when He says the young girl is not dead but merely asleep.
There’s an enormous amount of juxtaposition here! Just a short time earlier we saw a woman who had been suffering for TWELVE YEARS with a horrible affliction who believed all she had to do was touch a piece of Jesus’ garment and she would be healed! Now we have a roomful of people laughing at Jesus’ claim about Jairus’ daughter.
I must digress again: Do keep in mind the mourners in this scene were probably not comprised of the young girl’s neighbors and relatives. More than likely these were paid professionals in Hebrew law “who care for the deceased and prepare for the burial”
I struggle with this portion of the story because I’m pretty sure the mourners KNEW who Jesus was, and WHY He claimed the girl was not dead. This leads me to two conclusions. Either a) they did not believe in Jesus’ power to raise the girl from the dead or b) they laughed out loud and mocked Jesus in front of the family because they stood to lose money were their services not needed. (I am reminded here of the Legion of demons driven into a herd of pigs in Luke 8:32-37, and how the herdsmen witnessed what had happened, which led to the people to beg Jesus to leave and not come back. Those herdsmen lost a mighty big paycheck that day; Jesus was “bad for business”.)
Nevertheless, I’d like to think the mourners laughed at Jesus because their faith was lacking and not because they were so callous as to be out a paycheck.
However, it is not only the mourners who are to blame for their lack of faith. Over and over again in the New Testament we see the Twelve, (there’s that number again!) the ones closest to Jesus, failing in their trust in Him. Mark 4:35-41, Luke 9:12-13, John 20:25-28, are just a few examples.
I love the account of Luke 8:40-53 for so many reasons: We see Jesus perform a miracle while He is on His way to perform a miracle. I love that both of the healed in this story are women. (Okay, one of them is a child, but in Biblical times, Jairus’ daughter is of marriageable age.) The fact that the bleeding woman was afflicted as long as Jairus’ daughter was alive is also particularly poignant. Most of all, I love that Jesus did not discriminate and only heal the important people, i.e., powerful men. The fact that the bleeding woman and Jairus’ daughter are both insignificant members of society Did Not Matter to Jesus! He healed them all: men, women, children, Hebrew, Gentile, lepers, the paralysed, the lowest of Society’s low. Jesus brings His love to, and ultimately saves, every one of us.
Then there’s the faith and bravery of the bleeding woman! I admire her so much. She knew it was “wrong” by Society’s standards to even look at a man, let alone ask Jesus for healing BUT! so strong was her faith in this Teacher that she knew all she had to do was merely touch Him and she would be cured. Her faith and wisdom are to be commended! Whenever I am desperately praying for the Lord’s healing/guidance/what-have-you, I often fall back on the bleeding woman’s “mustard seed faith”. I want to believe that all I need for Jesus’ healing (be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual) is to touch the hem of His garment.
“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” –Mark 9:24