Sunday, April 19, 2020; Luke 8:40-56; Pastor Kristina Dyck
Today I want to share with you a story that has been lingering on my mind about a year. Another great “upside down kingdom” story. This has been the story/passage that I keep going back to. It is a familiar story but it is full of depth that most of us do not stop and think about. I think it is particularly timely now.
This story is found in three of the four Gospels. Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43 , and Luke 8. We are going to look mostly at the account in Luke 8 today.
Jesus heals two women
40 When Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they had been waiting for him. 41 A man named Jairus, who was a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet. He pleaded with Jesus to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a twelve-year-old, was dying.
As Jesus moved forward, he faced smothering crowds. 43 A woman was there who had been bleeding for twelve years. She had spent her entire livelihood on doctors, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the hem of his clothes, and at once her bleeding stopped.
45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When everyone denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are surrounding you and pressing in on you!”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me. I know that power has gone out from me.”
47 When the woman saw that she couldn’t escape notice, she came trembling and fell before Jesus. In front of everyone, she explained why she had touched him and how she had been immediately healed.
48 “Daughter, your faith has healed you,” Jesus said. “Go in peace.”
49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the synagogue leader’s house, saying to Jairus, “Your daughter has died. Don’t bother the teacher any longer.”
50 When Jesus heard this, he responded, “Don’t be afraid; just keep trusting, and she will be healed.”
51 When he came to the house, he didn’t allow anyone to enter with him except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 They were all crying and mourning for her, but Jesus said, “Don’t cry. She isn’t dead. She’s only sleeping.”
53 They laughed at him because they knew she was dead.
54 Taking her hand, Jesus called out, “Child, get up.” 55 Her life returned and she got up at once. He directed them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were beside themselves with joy, but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.Read full chapter
Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible
A little background:
This story takes place during Jesus’ second tour of Galilea, probably about midway through his ministry on earth. He had already done many miracles in Galilea, that is where his ministry had begun and where he was from. He was well known there.
By this point in is ministry he had traveled down to Jerusalem a few times as well and met the woman at the well in Samaria. He was well known and his reputation for valuing those that society deemed less important was well know.
On one side of this story we have an important and wealthy man. The leader of the synagogue. His twelve year old daughter is near death and he comes to Jesus seeking help for her. He cuts through the crowd, he is important so he could do that easily, and he pleads with Jesus to come and heal her.
As a parent, I can imagine the franticness of his mission to get to Jesus and to get Jesus back to his daughter. I think any parent can imagine the panic of one last hope to save your child.
I imagine Jairus dressed in expensive clothes but looking rumpled from days of fear and sitting beside his little girl’s sick bed.
He fell at Jesus’ feet, probably out of breath from having run here as fast as he could.
He begs Jesus to come heal his twelve year old daughter.
On the other side of the story we have a woman who has been dealing with twelve years of abnormal uterine bleeding. Now for those of aren’t doctors or nerds about women’s health, let’s add a layer of understanding to this. This kind of condition is a symptom of something that is going on. So while it was unpleasant in itself, it was likely caused by something that would have had other symptoms that the Gospel writers do not mention. She may have had fibroids, PCOS, endometriosis, or even cancer. It is likely that she was in pain on top of everything else and obviously weak from constant blood loss.
She had spent all of her money trying to find a cure and the result was that she had only been made worse. (Ancient near east doctors had some pretty bizarre and sketchy “remedies” for things like this so it is no wonder they made her worse. These remedies could have easily given her food poisoning or e coli.)Her condition would have meant twelve years of being unclean. Twelve years of no one touching her. Twelve years of shame. Twelve years of isolation.
This woman is at the opposite end of the social, economic, and religious spectrum from Jairus. While he is a male leader, she is a nameless woman; while he is a synagogue official, she is ritually unclean and thus excluded from the religious community; while he has a family and a large household, she must presumably live in isolation because of her condition; while he is rich, she is impoverished by payment of doctors’ fees
While Jairus was able to come right up to Jesus and ask, this woman was not able to do that. Maybe shame stopped her, or the customs of the day.
Instead of falling at Jesus’ feet and pleading as Jairus had, she sneaks up and just barely touches a tassel or hem of his clothing. She may have reached through the packed crowd for whatever part of Jesus she could just barely reach.
Her healing was instant.
“Think of it! The Mosaic Law is reversed here: rather than the Lord Jesus becoming unclean and contaminated by her, she is healed and purified by the holy power that resides in him! This is who Jesus is, he is the Holy One: the Healer.”
But the story doesn’t stop there for her. Jesus could have let her slip away into the crowd maybe thinking that magic had healed her. This was a common thought in the day. But he had more to teach her, the crowd, and us. Matthew says that Jesus turned and saw her. Luke and Mark say that Jesus asked who had touched him.
In the pressing crowd, Jesus recognized her touch. He stopped. Despite being on the way to heal a dying child, he stopped. He addressed her personally. He asked her to tell her story. He listened. He told her that it was her faith that had healed her. It wasn’t magical clothing, the power came from Jesus because of her faith.
Back to Jairus
As a woman, and one who has always been a bit passionate about injustice, I automatically side with the woman in this story. The pain and sorrow of her life, her isolation, even the culture that made her feel like she could not approach Jesus directly.
But when I stop to consider Jairus-the-dad, not Jairus-the-wealthy-priviledged guy, I am hit by the anxiety, frustration, fear, even anger that Jairus must have felt throughout this. His only child was moments from death and Jesus was asking about someone touching his clothes. Who cares?!
I think, no matter how old we are, we often tend to think of ourselves as king of the centre of the universe. The things that matter most to me are clearly the most important things in the world. Or maybe that is just me.
My children are obviously more important than some random person in a crowd. We might not like to admit this, but I think it is true. Jairus most likely felt this way. What could possibly be more important that saving the life of his only child?
As he is dealing with these feelings, someone he recognizes comes into focus. “I’m sorry Jairus. It’s too late.”
The anguish that must have struck him at those words. If Jesus had only hurried up this wouldn’t have happened.
“Jesus heard this, he responded, ‘Don’t be afraid; just keep trusting, and she will be healed.’”
Jesus calms him, reminds him to keep trusting. He promises healing. Then Jesus finally goes with him.
The house was already mourning. Of course those who loved her were already mourning. It seems as though they already had hired mourners there as well. Jesus kicked them all out only allowing her family and three of his disciples in. No faithless-rubber-neckers allowed.
They were all crying and mourning for her, but Jesus said, “Don’t cry. She isn’t dead. She’s only sleeping.”
53 They laughed at him because they knew she was dead.
I don’t think this was a “haha” kind of laugh. I think this was the borderline insane laugh of someone who has lost everything and is devastated, maybe even furious with Jesus for not coming sooner.
54 Taking her hand, Jesus called out, “Child, get up.” 55 Her life returned and she got up at once.
We are told in Numbers 5 that touching dead bodies defiles a living person. But again, the holy power differential flows the other way with the Lord Jesus. He not only has authority over nature and over demons, he has authority over death!
He directed them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were beside themselves with joy, but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.
I think that before this moment, Jairus would not have been able to be happy for the woman who had been healed earlier. It is pretty hard to be happy for others when we are in the midst of trials. Honestly, my natural tendency is to be annoyed that God took away their struggle instead of mine. But when God does come through for me suddenly my eyes are open to all of the wonderful things he has done for others as well.
They were beside themselves with joy.
I think that some of Jairus’ joy came also from the sudden realization that Jesus had not only healed his own daughter but also his neighbor. The full awesomeness of God struck him at that moment and he was beside himself with joy.
There are so many cool tidbits in this story which is why I keep coming back to it. Both of these women needed Jesus and Jesus really saw them both, took time for them both, healed them both, called them both “daughter.”
One was twelve and the other had suffered for twelve years.
Both of these women were unclean, one because of her illness, one because of her death. Both of these transferred their uncleanness to Jesus and were cleansed by him. Both found hope in Jesus when there was no possible human hope left.
Now, there are a few ways to identify with this story. Maybe you feel like the woman. You feel isolated and alone. That is not uncommon in this isolating time. Maybe you have suffered for a long time and found no help. Jesus sees you. Jesus offers you hope.
Maybe you identify with Jairus. You are used to getting what you want, you have worked hard and your life is good. But now you find you have lost control. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe a loved one is sick. Whatever it is, life is suddenly turned upside down and you can’t seem to get your barrings. It seems like everyone around you is finding help and hope but you are still struggling. Jesus sees you. He has not forgotten you.
Maybe you actually identify with Jesus in this story. It seems like everyone wants something and you are exhausted. That is definitely a legitimate feeling these days. Jesus offers you rest. He is in control and although this time has brought a tremendous amount of extra work for you and many other, God offers you rest. Bring your burdens to him.
Maybe you feel like someone in the crowd, just watching the insanity all around you. Not really able to help. Not really feeling anything miraculous happening to you. Just sort of coasting by, unnoticed, maybe bored. Jesus is there for you too! If he had let the woman slip away the crowd would not have benefitted from what happened to her. He cares about you just as much as he cared about her.
No matter where you find yourself this week, Jesus calls you sons and daughters. He cares about you and the things that are going on in your life. And we do too, Feel free to contact me, or Amos, or Dave, or Lyndsay. We are here for you guys anytime you want to talk about big stuff or small stuff.