Many people believe in Jesus. But who is the Jesus that they have faith in? For some people, it’s the Jesus who is the good teacher or the great, but ancient, prophet.
These are the people who will quote the Golden Rule—“do unto others as you would have them do to you”—and use it to justify whatever sin they want. And when you confront them about their sin, they quote Jesus again—“Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Now, Jesus is a good teacher, but that is not to be the primary focus of our faith.
Back in Bible times, people also had a belief in Jesus, but it was a belief in Jesus as a miracle-worker. They flocked to Jesus to experience a miracle. Of course he is a miracle-worker, just like he is a good teacher, but again, that is not the primary faith focus that Jesus wants people to have. We see that come out in the narrative found in Luke 8:40-56.
First, we learn in this passage that…
OUR FAITH MUST BE IN JESUS (8:40-44)
People like to throw around the words “faith” and “believe,” but they have little meaning to them. “Just have faith,” someone will say. “Believe and it will happen.” Faith in what? Belief in who? Faith and belief mean nothing if they are not grounded in Jesus!
In this passage, we see two different people—a respected man of the community and a chronically diseased woman—come to Jesus for help. The object of their faith was Jesus.
Luke 8:40 And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.
Luke 8:41 And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house:
Luke 8:42 For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him.
Jairus was a “ruler of the synagogue,” perhaps something like a deacon today. He (along with some other men) would have been responsible for building maintenance and organizing services. His only daughter, twelve years old, was about to die. Jesus had a proven track record of healing people of all sorts of diseases, so Jairus had faith that he could help his daughter as well.
Jesus “went” with Jairus, and you can imagine that they hurried right along, with Jairus trying to make a way through the crowd. But Jesus is interrupted by a woman in need:
Luke 8:43 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,
This woman has had an “issue of blood,” which we assume has to do with menstruation. According to the law, a woman was considered ceremonially unclean during her monthly time:
19 And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. 20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. (Leviticus 15:19–20)
Leviticus 15:25 tells us that if this issue of blood continued beyond her normal time, the woman would be unclean until it stopped. Unbelievers today mock this and say that it was unfair to women.
But one reason for this uncleanness had to do with God teaching the Israelites the importance of blood. Blood was not to be taken lightly. In the Bible, blood represents life (Leviticus 17:14, 19:26).
Therefore, there were precautions that the law commanded people to take in regards to blood. For instance, they were not to eat meat that still had blood in it (Leviticus 17:12), and there where procedures to take after childbirth because of the blood involved (Leviticus 12), and so on.
But in the end, these regulations point to the one that would one day shed his own blood for our sins. They point to Christ…
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Colossians 1:14)
The Bible says that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). When we receive Jesus as our God and Savior by faith, his death and blood becomes the payment for our sin.
However, in this woman’s case, the unending flow of blood did make life hard for her. No one could touch her without becoming unclean for a time. She would have been a very lonely person. Like Jairus, she has heard of the miracles that Jesus has performed and goes to him.
Luke 8:44 Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment (cf. Matthew 9:21): and immediately her issue of blood stanched.
We learn in verse 48 that she had faith, and what was the object of her faith? It was Jesus.
Both Jairus and the woman understood that their faith had to be in Jesus. He was the one who could help them. The same is true for us. The Bible says that only faith in Jesus Christ can save.
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)
Is your faith in Jesus Christ? If it isn’t, then you must recognize that you are a sinner who is condemned. You must repent of your sins and place your faith in the Christ who died as the only payment for your sins. Only then will you be made right with God.
OUR FAITH MUST WAIT FOR JESUS (8:45-46)
The woman was healed the instant she touched Jesus’s robe. Jesus could have kept walking on to Jairus’s house to heal his dying daughter. But he doesn’t—he delays.
Luke 8:45 And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
Luke 8:46 And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue [dynamis, power] is gone out of me.
Did Jesus really not know who touched him? Maybe he did, but maybe his self-limiting of his divine abilities kept him from knowing.
A more important question for me is: why did it matter that he find out who touched him? The woman was healed, so why not let her go on her way and hurry along with Jairus to heal his daughter?
Before we answer that, let’s go back to poor Jairus. Can you put yourself in Jairus’s sandals a moment? I am sure that he was walking as fast as he could, looking anxiously at Jesus, begging him with his eyes to keep up.
If you were Jairus, how would you feel about this interruption?
Imagine being a doctor in an Emergency Room. Two patients come in, the first one, by a few minutes, is a little girl on the door of death. The second, is a woman with a chronic health issue that has plagued her for years.
What’s more, she comes in and grabs the medicine that she needs off from the shelf, takes it, and is instantly cured. Who do you help first? The dying girl of course. It’s the morally right thing to do, and if you didn’t, you would be facing a malpractice lawsuit!
But then this is Jesus…he’s not worried because, unlike the doctor, he can raise the dead! In fact, he often delays so that he can teach us.
The most famous delay that Jesus ever made is found in John 11. Jesus found out that one of his close friends—Lazarus—was sick. Don’t miss that: Lazarus was a close friend (11:3). What did Jesus do?
6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. (John 11:6)
When he does arrive, both Martha and Mary complain that, if he had come on time, their brother would not have died (11:21, 32). Why the delay? As Jesus told his disciples,
14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. (John 11:14–15)
Jesus doesn’t want us to believe in him as one who comes and fixes our problems. He wants us to believe in him as one that can fix our biggest problem: sin and the death which comes from sin (Romans 5:12).
We pray, “Lord, fix this problem of mine.”
He says, “My child, wait.”
We say, “Lord, it’s worse now, come fix this problem and hurry.”
He says, “My child, wait.”
We say, “Lord, look at this mess…what did I do to deserve this?”
He says, “My child, you still don’t get it, wait.”
When you find Jesus delaying, don’t get bitter and mad at him, just know that you have some growing in your faith to do. This is the lesson he was teaching Jairus: our faith must wait for Jesus.
The lesson he was teaching the woman was that…
OUR FAITH MUST DECLARE JESUS (8:47)
Luke 8:47 And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.
What the woman wanted was to be able to touch Jesus, get healed, and get out. She would avoid being embarrassed by having the crowd learn of her condition. She was ceremonially unclean, and for a very personal and private reason. No one there knew that, and she wanted to keep it that way.
But Jesus called her out. Jesus didn’t allow her to keep this personal issue private. We want to think that he wouldn’t want us to be embarrassed in front of people, but that’s not what he does here.
The text says that “she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him.” Can you imagine how embarrassing that would have been for her?
Why would Jesus do that to her? Because faith is something that must be declared. There’s a sense in which it can’t be real until it is declared. This is what Romans 10:9 says,
9 That if thou shalt confess [a better word here is “declare”] with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
So the woman confessed (declared) in front of everyone what condition she had (can you hear the gasps, “She’s unclean!”?). Then she declared that she had been healed instantly by Jesus.
Luke 8:48 And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
She was healed the instant she touched Jesus. But the pattern the Bible establishes is that when faith is born in you, you must declare it.
Who have you told that you are a Christian? Are there people who you haven’t told because it would be embarrassing to you? Your faith will be bolstered when you speak about it to others, especially if it’s hard for you to do so.
Finally, we return to poor Jairus. He’s about to receive some very bad news.
OUR FAITH MUST BE IN JESUS AS THE SON OF GOD (8:49-56)
Luke 8:49 While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.
Imagine the blow to Jairus…Jesus delayed and his daughter died. All hope seems lost. But Jesus challenges Jairus to have faith:
Luke 8:50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.
What was Jairus supposed to “believe”? He already believed that Jesus could heal his daughter, that’s why he came to Jesus in the first place. But this was just a belief in Jesus’s miracle-working. It’s not what Jesus wanted. He wanted Jairus to believe in him more than a man who could perform miracles.
This was also what Jesus wanted for Mary and Martha in John 11. Martha said that she believed in the final resurrection. She believed that one day, Lazarus would rise again. But that wasn’t enough for Jesus. Listen to what he says to her:
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25–26)
What is Jesus saying here? He agreed with Martha that her brother would rise again in the resurrection, and Jesus himself was the source of that new resurrection life. For Martha, the light bulb goes on:
27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. (John 11:27)
Whoa! What just happened there? Jesus asked her if she believed that he was the resurrection and the life, and she jumped to believing that he was the “Christ, the Son of God.” Who else could be the resurrection and the life but God himself? This is what Jesus wanted Martha to see—that he was, in fact, the promised Messiah and God himself.
Back in Luke 8, it’s not so explicit, but I think the implication is that Jesus wants Jairus to see that he is more than a miracle-worker. That he is, in fact, the resurrection and the life.
Luke 8:51 And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.
Why keep them out? Wouldn’t it help them believe to see? Very simply, they were not ready to believe in Jesus as anything more than a miracle-worker. You can see this in what happens in the next verses—
Luke 8:52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.
Luke 8:53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
There were people already inside the house—some of them were actually professional mourners. That may sounds strange to us, but in those days, a grieving family would hire these mourners as a matter of custom. These professional mourners would have no personal interest in the person who was dead or the family.
You can see that here: Family members would not have laughed at the claim that Jesus made; perhaps they would have became angry at Jesus for toying with their emotions, but they wouldn’t have laughed.
The professional mourners, however, could have instantly switched from mourning to laughing because they really didn’t care about the family.
Luke 8:54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.
Luke 8:55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.
Luke 8:56 And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.
The girl is raised from the dead and also healed of her sickness. The fact that Jesus commands that food be given her is the proof.
Then he gives a strange command: don’t tell anyone about this. The man possessed with demons in the last passage was told to go and tell others about the great things done for him.
But here the family is told to remain quiet. Why?
Jesus did want people trying to turn him into a political king that would lead them in a rebellion against the Roman Empire. A great miracle like raising the dead would only serve to galvanize the Jews to do this.
On the other hand, the demon-possessed man was sent to be a missionary to the Gentiles. There was no danger of him trying to make Jesus into a political king. It all comes back to what they believed Jesus was: was he a political king or the Son of God?
What about you? What do you believe that Jesus is? Is he, like so many think today, a good teacher, an ancient historical figure, or perhaps even just a myth?
Or, has the Holy Spirit convicted your heart so that you see that Jesus is the Son of God who died and rose again as payment for your sins? Perhaps you sense him working in you right now—will you continue to resist, or will you have faith in Jesus?