Trust in Christ is a core element of what it means to be a Christian.
- You only trust a rope when you get it to take your whole weight; you only trust a chair not to collapse when you sit on it.
- And you only fully trust in Christ when you actually commit to him completely. Then you discover truly his strength.
In our passage we’re going to meet a couple of people who did just that – and their lives were completely transformed forever.
Be whole in Christ (40-48)
Last time we read about Jesus getting in a boat and crossing the lake of Galilee to go to the region of Gerasenes.
- On the way, he rebuked a terrible storm on the sea and everything was calm.
- When he got there, he commanded a legion of demons to come out of a man. The man was completely restored to normality – health and a sound mind.
Jesus has had a tiring day. The trip across the lake and back would have taken most of the day. And immediately on arriving back where he started, there was a crowd waiting: Read Luke 8:40-42.
It’s obviously an emergency. It’s an awful situation. Many of us know what it’s like to fret over an ill child, and this man’s only daughter was dying. Whether you’re old or young, it seems to go against the nature of things for us to outlive our children. It’s a pain most of us will never suffer, only imagine.
But suddenly there’s an interruption. Read Luke 8:43.
Every woman can sympathise with her.
- To suffer bloodloss, with all the sickness and weakness that would bring, would be awful.
- Add to that the more primitive sanitary care, she’d have been in a constant state of discomfort and, probably, awkwardness.
- But as a Jew, her blood flow would have meant that she was ceremonially unclean. Normally, that would last a few days per month.
- In her case, she’d been ceremonially unclean for 12 years.
- Restricted in her movements; avoiding others; unable to visit the synagogue or go to the religious festivals in Jerusalem. A social outcast.
- Uncomfortable, in pain, lonely. Heartbreaking.
- Since Jesus was in his late teens.
She’d tried everything. Gone to all the best doctors she could afford. No doubt tried a bunch of quack medicine. All failed.
A new hope
Until that day. Read Luke 8:44.
The contrast could hardly be stronger. 12 years of searching and trying, compared with a simple moment’s touch of Jesus. In a sense, that healing was all she wanted. But it wasn’t all she needed.
It turns out she’d touched him in a chaotic scene.
Read Luke 8:45-46.
- No bouncers; no crowd control. Everyone pushing forward for a piece of Jesus.
- Even so, Jesus stands scanning the crowd: “Who touched me?” – it seems a ridiculous question, and he’s told so.
Will she step forward? Read Luke 8:47-48.
- She steps into the public square and confesses her faith in Jesus.
- She had faith he could heal her, even by an unconscious touch.
- Faith that his healing hand would mean that he wouldn’t become unclean on her account, but that she would be healed and cleansed on his!
- And she had faith that Jesus would welcome and accept her, not tell her off for what she had done!
A lot of people want to do something like her. You might want “a bit of Jesus” but not be “all in.” You come to church and feel refreshed, relaxed, accepted, restored: And that’s good! That is a blessing from Jesus. But he calls you to more.
- To come to him in faith and thanksgiving.
- And to acknowledge him publicly.
I knew a lady who had always had a “private faith” – almost half faith (if such thing could exist!) – where she did trust Jesus but didn’t want to tell anyone or draw attention to herself. One day she was listening to a children’s talk and realised that it was time for her to step out for Jesus.
It’s very much what baptism is about: A public declaration both to Jesus and to everyone else: “My old sinful life is gone. I belong to Christ.”
The blessing that came to that woman that day were life-changing:
- Obviously, her 12-year illness was over.
- More, that meant she could now be declared ceremonially clean and re-join society, family, community.
- Even more than that, she had come to Jesus face to face and received his blessing for her faith: “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
By her trust in Christ, she had been made whole. She was restored, redeemed, blessed, included, welcomed. The risen Jesus calls you to himself too. Today. Then:
Have hope in Christ (49-55)
Happy day for her. But then crashing news arrives! Read Luke 8:49.
Jesus is too late. She child has died.
- If only he hadn’t gone across the lake that day.
- If only he hadn’t wasted time with that woman. Couldn’t she have waiting another ½ hour? 12 years + ½ hour?
Wherever there’s death and grief, there are always “if onlys”. “If only I’d gone to the doctors sooner, or been a bit fitter, or more careful with what I ate, or more aware of heart attack symptoms. If only I’d driven instead of them…”
The regret is so bitter and unforgiving simply because death is so cruel and final.
- There’s no pain like it; nothing can prepare you for grief.
- People sometimes say well-meaning but hurtful things.
Imagine saying to Jairus that day, “Cheer up. You’ll always have your memories. She’ll always be with you in your heart.” When all he could think is, “She’s dead.”
What Jesus actually said to him was outrageous: Read Luke 8:50.
- What will Jairus do? He must have been a world of emotions.
- But he’s just seen that woman healed.
- He’s come to Jesus because he knew he was a healer.
Whatever he thought, they all walk up to the house.
Maybe she wasn’t dead? Read Luke 8:51-53.
- In John’s gospel, Jesus described Lazarus as ‘asleep’ when he’d been dead for days.
- Lazarus was actually dead, and so was this child.
- No ifs or buts; “they knew she was dead.”
What Jesus had said to Jairus was outrageous. But what he said to Jairus’s daughter was spectacular. Read Luke 8:54-55.
- Who then is this man?
- He commanded the raging sea and it became calm.
- He commanded demons and they obeyed.
- And now he has commanded a corpse to live – and she lives!
- “Who then is this man?” is the question that echoes down the page. It should jump off the page into your mind!
One day, Jesus will return to the earth. Maybe today. Or maybe 10,000 years or many more after. It’s not for us to know when. In all likelihood, you’ll die before he returns. You can expect to die.
- Most of us will die in a hospital bed.
- In a room that already exists, waiting for you.
- A place that will hold your last breath, for a while.
On that day, will Jesus command you to “rise” – as he did that child? Probably not, on that day.
But one day he will!
- One day, all the dead who ever lived will rise.
- From the sea, from the land, even from Mars or the Moon if that’s where they died!
- Some will rise to eternal life, given a new eternal body of flesh that will live with Jesus forever.
- Most will rise to eternal damnation, to suffer separation from all that is good, for ever and ever and ever.
You only die twice?
What makes the difference? Who will rise to life, and who to a second death?
- Will Jesus reward all the good people and banish all the bad ones? No, we’re all the bad ones really.
- The separating factor is Jesus himself – and specifically faith in Jesus.
- Read v48 and v50 again. “Faith” and “Believe” are the same word. Have faith in Christ. Trust in Christ.
He called Jairus to faith; he called the woman to step out and publicly declare her faith.
- To have faith, you must first realise you need Jesus.
- You need to realise you’re a sinner before God – not a “good person” at all, but one who needs forgiveness.
- Jesus died on the cross so that you can be forgiven – him punished for your sin. That’s what you’re trusting in.
- Today, as you turn from sin, turn to God, ask for forgiveness and trust him to forgive, he will.
- That is saving faith; and only faith in Christ saves.
- In his grace, you can know him:
Know Christ (56)
After everything we’ve seen, v56 is a surprise. Read Luke 8:56.
Why the limitation on telling people what had happened? And how are you supposed to keep it secret that the girl everyone thought was dead is now alive??
- The man in the region of the Gerasenes who had had all the demons – he was told to go and tell everyone what had happened.
- When the woman healed of bleeding thought she could slink away, Jesus actually brought her to the centre of attention. Certainly not kept secret.
- And now he’d done the Big One! Jesus has raised a child from the dead. Surely he’d want everyone to know?
- Instead, “he instructed them to tell no one what had happened.” But why?
Isaiah 25 (written 800 years BC) gives a beautiful picture of the salvation that will come when Messiah comes:
7 On this mountain he will swallow up the burial shroud,
the shroud over all the peoples,
the sheet covering all the nations.
8 When he has swallowed up death once and for all,
the LORD GOD will wipe away the tears from every face
and remove his people’s disgrace from the whole earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
There’s an expectation that Messiah will “swallow up death once and for all”.
- To hear of someone raised from the dead would certainly trigger thoughts of the Messiah’s coming.
- Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of Messiah mania going on. Zealous Jews were always on the lookout for the Messiah, waiting to overthrow Roman rule and restore Israel’s fortunes.
Jesus is the Messiah. He is the Christ (same word, different language).
But the people at large weren’t ready for that revelation.
The revelation of Jesus Christ
Instead, everything we’ve seen in this chapter is actually a revelation of Jesus that he wants you to see first:
- Command of nature, of demons, over sickness & death.
- When you look to Jesus, you see deity, authority, power, and purpose.
(Spoiler!) The realisation among the apostles that Jesus is the Messiah is coming at Luke 9:20.
- Then immediately he will describe to them the Messiah’s mission to go to the cross, to crucifixion.
- That deity, authority, power and purpose was all working towards the cross of Calvary to save you.
Doesn’t matter who you are or what your background.
- Jairus was a pillar of the community and a local religious and civil ruler: He needed faith in Jesus.
- The healed woman had been a social outcast for 12 years, far from friends and community: She needed faith in Jesus.
Today, in Christ, you can know the wholeness, the peace that that woman found. Go in faith to Jesus; go in faith to others and acknowledge him.
Today, in Christ, you can know hope in your distress. Whether grief, or fear of death for yourself or someone else, go to him. You may well fear dying (as a process); but there is no fear in death. It has no sting for those who are already alive in Christ.
Today, trust in Christ. Go to him for healing for your mind and soul. Know his peace and restoration.
And he will grant you eternal life.