Grace For The Journey
We are continuing our verse-by-verse study of Luke’s Gospel and today we are concluding chapter 8. In chapter 8 from verses 22 and following we have been reading about our Lord’s power and authority over everything.
- We read first of Christ’s stilling of the storm which demonstrates His power over danger.
- We then read of Christ’s healing the demon-possessed man, demonstrating Christ’s power over demons.
This morning we will read of Jesus’ encounters with two different people which will show us Christ’s power over disease and death. One could conduct a study of chapter 8, verses 22 to the end of the chapter and read about Christ’s supreme authority over danger, demons, disease, and death.
We will be studying today about Christ’s authority over disease and death. Luke writes about two different people who meet Jesus after He and the disciples return from their journey to the other side of the lake. You will remember from last time what happened on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had healed the man possessed by a legion of demons, but the people of the area there, the Gadarenes, wanting nothing to do with Jesus, told Him to go away. Jesus and the disciples get into the boat and they sail back West to the Galilean shore. It is back on this Galilean side that these two different persons encounter Jesus and both of them meet Christ in their despair. You could put a heading over these verses in your Bible and write out: “When Despair Meets Christ,” because that is precisely what is happening.
I read this week about a frequently used phrase on most short-term mission trips – “Live In A Kid Mode.” Most people who have been on a team going overseas for a short period of time will have heard this phrase at some point or another. “Kid Mode” refers to “the recurring need for missional team members to not worry about all the details or to insist on having all the answers. Just as a child needs to trust his parents to take care of the details so must team members trust their leader to take care of the details.”
I learned this on my very first overseas mission trip, but it wasn’t easy. I am a planner for our team, and I like to know everything up front and how long we are going to do this and when will we do that, and so forth. But most missional activity on the field changes moment-by-moment and frequently much of the planning beforehand is altered significantly later. Every member of the mission team follows the leader, the leader on the team, who receives instruction from the leader on the ground, usually the person from the host country who will be there long after the team flies back home. I had to go into “Kid Mode” when I did not know all the details about where we were going to be doing in the next day or what we were going to do.
All analogies about our following Christ breakdown at some point and I do not mean for a minute to suggest that following Christ is exactly like going into “Kid Mode,” or that we are to never ask questions of Him or receive answers from Him but, in a very real sense, our Lord expects us to trust Him when we do not know all the details or have all the answers. This is the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “We walk by faith; not by sight.” There is tremendous liberty in this, tremendous liberty in going into “Kid Mode” before our Lord! We cannot always see everything up front. We walk by faith, not a blind faith, but a faith that rests wholly in the perfect character and competent leadership of another, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who says in this passage to a man whose daughter has died, “Do Not Fear; Only Believe,” and it is Jesus who says the same thing to you and me today, “Do Not Fear; Only Believe.”
Some of you are weighed-down by worries, troubles, and particular anxieties. Some of you wonder how you are going to get through another day when the alarm clock goes off in the morning. Our Lord has a word for us today: “Do Not Fear; Only Believe.”
Let’s study this passage together. Is your Bible still open? We are in Luke, chapter 8. I want to go through this passage and then, after we have studied it, I want to give you three relevant truths that surface from this text.
In verse 40 Luke tells us that in contrast to the crowd on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee who told Jesus to go away, the crowd of people back on the western side “welcomed Him” and that “they were all waiting for Him.” There are some who were being drawn more to Jesus than others. But there was one man desperate to see Jesus. Verse 41 tells us that his name is Jairus. He is a synagogue ruler. This means he presided over the affairs of the local Jewish synagogue. He himself was probably a Pharisee and had the responsibility of coordinating the regular teaching services of the synagogue. It was a position of relative prestige and power, but none of those things could help him at his moment of despair. He falls down at the feet of Jesus and begs Him to come quickly as his only daughter, a 12-year-old is very near the point of death. We read next that Jesus is on His way to the home of Jairus and we are waiting to read about His healing this little girl, but then there is an interruption on the way.
As the crowd are pushing and shoving and Jesus and the father of this 12-year-old-girl are making their way to the house, verse 43 tells us that a woman reaches out to touch Christ. She is a woman who has an unusual condition; she has been bleeding 12 years. Most scholars think that her condition was uterine, but we really do not know. The point is that she has been bleeding for a very long time.
When you compare these two encounters
It is interesting that this woman has been bleeding
For as long as Jairus’ daughter had been living, 12 years.
Luke himself a doctor wants us to know that this woman had sought medical treatment. He writes in verse 43 that “she had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any.” I find it a bit humorous that Luke omits a statement of fact that Mark includes in his Gospel. Like Luke, Mark records that this woman had seen a number of physicians, but he puts it this way in Mark 5:26, “She suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse.” Dr. Luke omits all that negative information, perhaps in an effort to protect the medical community and defend his profession, but the point is this woman remains unhealed.
She comes up to Jesus from behind (verse 44) and touches the hem of His garment. Jesus may well have been wearing the traditional garment worn by rabbis, a long robe with tassels at the very end of it. This woman obviously had heard about Christ’s supernatural power and may have thought to herself that if she could just touch the very hem of His garment that this same power she had heard about would bring to her the healing of her bleeding. She is right. Verse 44 says that as soon as she touched the border of Jesus’ garment “her flow of blood stopped.”
Verses 45 and following tell us then that Jesus stops and asks, “Who touched Me?” It is a remarkable question as pointed out even by Peter who seems to always be the spokesman for the group. Peter is like, “Jesus, there are hundreds of people pushing and shoving and pressing up against us, what do you mean, ‘Who touched Me?’ It could be anyone?!” But Jesus is not talking about those who are pushing and shoving. He is talking about someone who reached out consciously and willfully to touch Him with the touch of faith. He says, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Our spiritual imagination can see the disciples and some in the crowd asking, “Did you touch Him? Did you? Did you,” and all denied it.
This poor woman, whom verse 47 says was hiding, comes “trembling and falling down before Him.” The Bible tells us that “she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.” Now this is an interesting description of the event. Why was this woman hiding? The immediate reason seems obvious: Jesus is God in the flesh and appearing before this Holy One had to cause a bit of anxiety and then further to have been put on the spot must have been alarming to her. She is scared. But as a woman who was bleeding she also would have been considered ritually unclean according to Leviticus 15:19-27. Anything this woman touches, then, also would have been considered unclean. I suppose this may have motivated her to hide what she had done. But Jesus is God in the flesh and nothing can make Him unclean! When the woman finally comes forward and tells her story, the tender, loving response of Jesus is predictable, as we see in verse 48, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
It is hard not to notice the importance of public profession here. Our Lord wants no secret followers. He wants no private disciples. When we speak of the Christian faith as a personal faith, we do not mean private. We mean that we personally, as an individual person, we are to place our faith in the person of Jesus Christ. But the Christian faith is a public faith. Everyone Jesus calls to follow Him is called to follow Him publicly. We are not to be ashamed of Christ. Luke will record the very words of Christ in the next chapter, Luke 9:26, where Jesus says, “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.” If we are ashamed of Christ, we are not a follower of Christ.
Jesus lovingly tells this woman her faith has made her well and verse 49 tells us that while He is still speaking, someone comes from Jairus’ house and reports the bad news. He just blurts out while Jesus is still speaking – we do not know who this guy is, but he would not make a very good hospital chaplain – He just blurts out, “Your daughter is dead. Do not bother Jesus anymore.” It is an interesting statement because the suggestion is that, while Jesus can take care of things like stopping a woman from bleeding, but this is something beyond the limits of His power. He can do this much, but that is all. He can do this, but He cannot do that. He can heal sickness, but He cannot raise the dead. Well . . . Luke shows us the power and ability of Jesus!
Jesus says to Jairus in verse 50, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” If this is the first time you have ever read the narrative, I am sure you are reading faster at this moment because you cannot wait to see how this turns out! They eventually get to the house and before they go in, Jesus selects three of His disciples. He cannot have everyone in there, but it is important that He have some of them there. He is always teaching, always discipling. He takes Peter, James, and John – the inner core of disciples – with Him inside to witness the miracle. Also going inside the house are the mother and father of the girl. When they open the door, they are met with the weeping and mourning of people on the inside, mourning because of the death of this little girl. Our Lord says to the mourners in verse 52, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” The mourners then begin to ridicule Him as though He does not know what He is talking about. But of course, our Lord is speaking pastorally and metaphorically. He is God. He is in control. This girl’s soul has left her body. Her eyes are closed, but in a moment, He will restore her soul to its body and open her eyes like one rises from sleep. The Bible tells us that He takes the little girl’s hand into His own and says, “Little girl, arise.” Verse 55 declares, “Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately.” Of course! Jesus Christ has power over danger, demons, disease – and even death. Proof positive the little girl is alive is her rising up immediately and then eating something. Her eating something shows that not only has her spirit returned, but that the physical part of her being is also working properly, she is eating; a miracle confirmed.
We are not surprised by the first half of verse 56, which says, “Her parents were astonished.” No doubt! But we may be surprised by the second half of verse 56, which says, “He charged them to tell no one what had happened.” Quite the opposite of what most of us would expect. In fact, you may recall from last time that Jesus told the formerly demon-possessed man to go tell everyone what great things God had done for him (8:39). He tells the man there to go tell everyone, but he tells the parents here to tell no one. We can reasonably infer why this is from the geographical context. When Jesus was on the other side of the Sea of Galilee He was largely in Gentile territory. No fear there of anyone misunderstanding His role as Messiah. But here, on the western side, here in Galilee; largely a Jewish territory, there were a number of people expecting the Messiah to be a political savior rather than a suffering Savior. They would not understand and He is not yet ready to die on the cross. He tells the parents to tell no one what had happened, a seemingly impossible task in light of the present miracle with their daughter.
Now if one main theme concerns the unlimited power and authority of Christ over all things, then the other main theme concerns our faith in this Christ. In the remainder of our time, I want to build on this statement of our Lord’s to Jairus: “Do Not Fear; Only Believe.”
What does it really mean to believe Jesus Christ?
Number one . . .
I. Believing Christ Is To Reach Out Consciously And Willfully To Him.
This woman who was bleeding for 12 years does something no one else near Jesus does: she reaches out consciously and willfully to touch Jesus Christ with the touch of faith. Think about it: there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people pressing against one another. Many are bumping into the disciples and bumping into Jesus as they go along. This fact is substantiated by Peter’s protest. He says, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You” (Verse 45). In other words, “How can you ask who touched You? Thousands have touched You!” These people were just there, close to Jesus; some of them bumping into Him unconsciously or unwillingly, but only one person reached out with the unmistakable intention of touching Him with the touch of faith.
This is why Jesus stops and asks, “Who touched Me?” There was something different about this touch. Power went out from Him because a woman touched Him in faith. She believed she would be made well just by reaching out and touching Him and she was right. Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” The Greek reads literally, “Your faith has saved you.” This was salvation, both physical and spiritual. Why? Because it was the touch of faith. This woman believed in Christ. She may not have been able to score highly on a test of theology and doctrine at this point, she did not know everything about the needed process, but she fully trusted Jesus Christ as the Savior of her life. She rested in Christ.
This reminds us of a point we discussed first some weeks ago concerning “great faith.” Do you remember? We said “great faith” is not, “If I just try really hard and grit my teeth and close my eyes and really, really, really, really believe then I will have great faith.” That is not great faith. That is just great self-effort and energy! Great faith is not faith inside me, but faith outside me. Great faith is faith in the objective reality of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is not the size of your faith that matters;
What matters is the power and ability
Of the One in whom your faith rests.
That is why this woman touched Jesus. There was nothing special about her. She just went to the right person. She did what some of you need to do today. She went to Jesus.
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Not everyone in the crowd was looking in Jesus. Some came very close to Him and some even touched Him, but we read of only one person in the entire crowd who touched Him with the touch of surrendered faith. Many thronged Him, but only one touched Him. Only one reached out consciously and willfully and touched Him with the touch of faith. Think of it! Many come very close to Jesus Christ, but never touch Him with the touch of faith.
Many people get near Christ, but being near Christ does not, in and of itself, save a soul. You can get really close to Christ and still be lost because you do not reach out to Him in surrendered faith. Many people all over the world on a Sunday morning come near Christ. Many listen to sermons about Christ, sermons in a church building or sermons on the radio, but not all touch Christ.
Touching Christ with the touch of faith is something only the Holy Spirit can do you yourself can do by reaching out consciously and willfully to Christ Jesus. We must touch Him with the touch of faith.
Secondly . . .
II. Believing Christ Is To Move Ahead Without All The Answers From Him.
Jairus has just heard that his daughter is dead. Remember what the messenger said? “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher” (Verse 49), and Jesus tells Jairus, “Do not fear; only believe” (Verse 50). What range of emotions must have gone through Jairus’ mind! He has just learned his daughter has died and he is at once grief-stricken, but then Jesus says, “Never mind what you have heard. Do not fear; only believe.” Does Jairus believe? He does. We know this because he continues walking with Jesus and they make their way to Jairus’ house.
Imagine now what is going through the mind of Jairus! A trusted friend from the synagogue has just passed along reliable information concerning the death of his daughter. He must be thinking, “How can Jesus say, ‘Do not fear; only believe?’ Believe what?! Believe she is not really dead? Believe she’s better off now because she is dead and no longer sick? Believe at the resurrection I will see her once again? Believe what?! How in the world can I not be afraid? How in the world can I just believe?!’” But, nevertheless, Jairus does believe. He keeps moving ahead even though he does not have all the answers.
There is an encouraging life-changing message here for us. Believing Christ is to move ahead without knowing all the answers from Him. We do not insist on having our Lord map out everything for us. We do not insist on His giving us all the details. There is great liberty in going into “Kid Mode” before our Lord. We just trust Him as the loving God who is in complete control of all things; the God Who always does what is right and never fails to meet our needs.
Believing Christ means we move ahead without all the answers from Him. That is how Daniel and his three friends stepped into the fiery furnace without knowing how it was all going to turn out. They just moved on without having all their questions answered. Read about it in Daniel, chapter 3. They just went on without having all the answers. That is how Peter slept soundly in prison the night before Herod intended to cut off his head. Read about it in Acts, chapter 12. Peter just went to bed without having all his questions answered. That is how many of you will go on this week if you will but walk by faith and not by sight. Believing Christ means you will move ahead without all the answers from Him.
Faith keeps us moving forward when we feel like we are moving backward. Faith keeps us looking upward when we fell like falling downward. Faith puts a smile on a frown, shines a light in the dark, and promises that all will be well because the Lord says, “Do not fear; only believe!”
Believing Christ is to reach out consciously and willfully to Him. Believing Christ is to move ahead without all the answers from Him. Thirdly . . .
III. Believing Christ Is To Benefit From All The Power Of God In Him.
Only God has absolute power over the two effects of the Fall of Man: disease and death. How many physicians had this bleeding woman seen? We are not told, but Luke suggests she had seen many over a period of 12 years and spent every dime on medical treatment. Here is a reminder to us that God alone is the ultimate Healer of all that ails us. We do not always think of God’s healing us when we pop the Advil into our mouth and swallow it with some water, but if our head stops throbbing it is only because the Great Physician has healed through the means of medicine. He chooses to heal or He allows the sickness. It is up to Him. He knows best. We thank God for skilled doctors, expert surgeons, and helpful drugs, but it is God who chooses to work through the doctors and it is God who works through the dosages. He alone has absolute power over disease.
And He alone has absolute power over death. He says to the dead, “Arise” and the dead rise. Only He can grant life after death. He alone holds the keys of death and Hades (Revelation 1:18). Have you reached out and touched Him with the touch of faith? No one can do this for you; you must do it yourself, boldly, unashamedly, and publicly.
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”