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Believe (Luke 8: 40 - 56)

Believe (Luke 8: 40 - 56)

Do not fear; only believe (50)

Whereas the previous narrative concluded with all the people fearful and asking Jesus to leave, this one begins with them welcoming and waiting for him. Whereas the healed demoniac was commanded to declare how much God had done for him, Jairus is charged to tell no one. Whereas the demoniac was an outcast from society, Jairus is a ruler of the synagogue. Food for thought.

Sandwiched between these two miracles is the healing of a woman who has suffered for 12 years from haemorrhaging. In one sense she is like the demoniac: her bleeding would have rendered her ritually unclean and so socially ostracised (Lev 15.25ff.). No one would have wanted to be touched by her. But equally she has something in common with the little girl who is dying, even as she is being healed: she is somebody’s (i.e. God’s) daughter. Note the juxtaposition of Jesus’ words in v. 48 “Daughter, your faith has made you well” with those of Jairus’ servants in v. 49 “Your daughter is dead.”

We have already seen how Jesus welcomes bold requests for his help (5.12ff., 17ff.; 7.1ff.) – even when they offend others (7.36ff.). He looks for genuine (i.e. single-minded) faith, and commends those in whom he finds it. This woman breaches religious protocols when she touches Jesus. Her fear of being found out is justified (47). One may assume she doesn’t wish to cause Jesus any problems either (by making him unclean.) Remember where he’s headed, and who Jairus is. Jesus, however, does not condemn but commend. She is not only healed, she is sent away in peace.

Does Jesus give a fig about ritual purity? Evidently not. Having been touched by a bleeding woman he proceeds to take the hand of a dead girl, breaking another taboo (Num. 19.11ff.). He does though care deeply about faith and defeating evil, sickness and death. So, when Jairus hears the news of his daughter’s death, he tells him “Do not fear, only believe, and she will be well.” In other words, do as the bleeding woman has just done. Thus she becomes an exemplar of faith to a ruler of the synagogue – and to Jesus’ lead disciple (45).

To ponder

How bold are you in prayer (before God and other people)?

To pray

Heavenly Father, thank you that you have adopted me as your child in Christ. Grant me, I pray, a boldness in faith to match that of this woman, that I too may see Jesus’ healing power at work; in his name I pray. Amen

Michael Hewat is currently serving as the Senior Minister at West Hamilton Community Church, New Zealand

Photo contributed by Good News Productions Int.