Text: Luke 8:40-56
The miracles are flowing so thick and fast at this stage in Jesus’ ministry that there now follows an account of two intertwined healing miracles. The contrast between the two people who asked Jesus for help is notable. One lesson arising from this is the essential equality of all before God: none are exempt from the ravages wrought by disease and death; and none are beyond the compassionate help of the Lord.
A man named Jairus – It must have been very hard for him to come to Jesus. By this time the synagogues were virtually closed to Jesus, and the Jewish leaders were turning against him on account of his activities on the Sabbath and his opposition to the Pharisees. For this respected member of the ‘establishment’ to come to an itinerant teacher was a mark both of humility and desperation.
Fell at Jesus’ feet – Though he was a ruler of the synagogue, he acknowledged the greater authority of Jesus. N.B. In all of our troubles we should visit God. Even if he will not change our circumstances to suit us, he will certainly change us to suit our circumstances.
Pleading with him to come to his house – In this respect he was unlike the centurian, who had faith to believe that Jesus could speak the healing word at a distance. But Christ, although he applauds strong faith, does not discourage or reject weak faith, providing it is sincere.
The crowds almost crushed him – This was not the only hindrance Jairus encountered in his attempt to rush Jesus to his daughter before it was too late: there will also be the delay caused by the woman with a haemorrhage. For a while, it would seem that the healing of this woman had cost the father his daughter’s life. This adds more weight and tension to the further delay when Jesus insists on identifying the one who touched him, v45.
‘We can only speculate on what thoughts and emotions swirled through [Jairus] as this woman became a roadblock to Jesus’ work on his behalf. It was rather like the frustration of someone in a hurry to get to a destination who is blocked by a traffic jam. Only Jairus is not just late; he is trying to save his daughter. To make matters worse, now a man from Jairus’s home shows up to announce that it is too late. Imagine it: Jesus stops to heal a woman of a nonfatal condition, and as he delays a young life is snuffed out. Where is justice?’ (IVP Commentary)
“Your daughter is dead…don’t bother the teacher any more.” – They believed that Jesus could help while the daughter was still alive. But death, they supposed, put her beyond all help.
“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed” – Wonderful words of encouragement. Jesus fully understands the agony of the father. Cf Heb 4:15. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.
‘As they come to the house the mourners have already begun their wailing cry. It was customary in those days to hire mourners to bemoan the death of an individual. There was a terrible frenzy about it. They would actually rip their garments apart, tear out their hair, and cry out with loud shrieks and howls. But even though there was some degree of professionalism about this, it represents the terrible sense of despair which people — even in Israel — had come to in the face of death. There is none of the stoic’s resignation here, such as you would have seen among the Greeks, but this awful, horrible, crying out, this frenzy of despair, this sense of hopelessness at the finality of death’s cold grip.’ (Stedman)
“She is not dead but asleep” – That is to say, it is as if she were simply asleep, for she is about to be revived. But then again, this saying is applicable to all those who die in the Lord, for they will be raised at the last day. ‘He means, as to her peculiar case, that she was not dead for good and all, but that she should now shortly be raised to life, so that it would be to her friends as if she had been but a few hours asleep. But it is applicable to all that die in the Lord; therefore we should not sorrow for them as those that have no hope, because death is but a sleep to them, not only as it is a rest from all the toils of the days of time, but as there will be a resurrection, a waking and rising again to all the glories of the days of eternity.’ (M. Henry) Cf Jn 11:11; 1 Thess 4:13.
They laughed at him – ‘We almost feel like joining them as they laugh at him. They thought he was crazy, that he should talk that way. And yet, who has the truer view of death, Jesus or man? Remember that he said the same thing when he was told of Lazarus: “He is sleeping.” Again and again he refers to death as a sleep, when it involves a believer. Death is not what it appears to us, when belief and faith are present. It is merely temporary. It is nothing more serious, as far as the believer is concerned, than going to sleep. What a comfort those words have been to so many who have come themselves to the edge of death and have realized that all they were doing was really going to sleep, as Jesus has said.’ (Stedman).
They laughed at him – but he answered their unbelief not by word, but by deed. The fact that they could shift so readily from lamentation to laughter suggests that their sorrow lacked sincerity.
He ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened – ‘Jesus urges silence, even though what he has done was obvious. His goal is not to become a traveling Palestinian miracle show. His ministry is not about such displays of power, but about what they represent. He knows that miracles would become the major interest, not new life and the basic issue of who it is who can heal a woman and raise a young girl.’ (IVP Commentary)
G. Campbell Morgan said, ‘I can hardly speak of this matter without becoming personal and reminiscent, remembering a time forty years ago when my own first lassie lay at the point of death, dying. I called for Him then, and He came, and surely said to our troubled hearts, “Fear not, believe only.” He did not say, “She shall be made whole.” She was not made whole, on the earthly plane; she passed away into the life beyond. But He did say to her, “Talitha cumi”, i.e., “Little lamb, arise.” But in her case that did not mean, “Stay on the earth level”; it meant that He needed her, and He took her to be with Himself. She has been with Him for all these years, as we measure time here, and I have missed her every day. But His word, “Believe only,” has been the strength of all the passing years.’
One lesson from this double miracle is that God does not bless one at the expense of another. We are apt to think that he has limited resources, and he must ration them out. But this is to project our own human limitations on God, and is entirely wrong. Are we sometimes jealous when we see that someone has been richly blessed by God? We need more the attitude of Paul, for whom the blessing of others was evidently a blessing to himself.
‘Let us see in this miracle a blessed pledge of what our Lord will do in the day of his second appearing. He will call his believing people from their graves. He will give them a better, more glorious, and more beautiful body, than they had in the days of their pilgrimage. He will gather together his elect from north, and south, and east, and west, to part no more, and die no more.’ (Ryle)
Three words from Jesus:-
1. A word of encouragement – “Don’t be afraid, just believe,” v50.
2. A word of revelation – “She is not dead but asleep,” v52.
3. A word of love and power – “My child, get up,” v54