Jairus’s Daughter and the Woman with a Hemorrhage (Luke 8:40-56)

Jairus’s Daughter and the Woman with a Hemorrhage.

40 When Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him.

41 And a man named Jairus, an official of the synagogue, came forward. He fell at the feet of Jesus and begged him to come to his house,

42 because he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, and she was dying. As he went, the crowds almost crushed him.

43 And a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years, who [had spent her whole livelihood on doctors and] was unable to be cured by anyone,

44 came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. Immediately her bleeding stopped.

45 Jesus then asked, “Who touched me?” While all were denying it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are pushing and pressing in upon you.”

46 But Jesus said, “Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out from me.”

47 When the woman realized that she had not escaped notice, she came forward trembling. Falling down before him, she explained in the presence of all the people why she had touched him and how she had been healed immediately.

48 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

49 While he was still speaking, someone from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.”

50 On hearing this, Jesus answered him, “Do not be afraid; just have faith and she will be saved.”

51 When he arrived at the house he allowed no one to enter with him except Peter and John and James, and the child’s father and mother.

52 All were weeping and mourning for her, when he said, “Do not weep any longer, for she is not dead, but sleeping.”

53 And they ridiculed him, because they knew that she was dead.

54 But he took her by the hand and called to her, “Child, arise!”

55 Her breath returned and she immediately arose. He then directed that she should be given something to eat.

56 Her parents were astounded, and he instructed them to tell no one what had happened.

Beginning right away we see an explicit difference between the crowd that Jesus returns to and the crowd He just left.  That is, the crowd He left, gentiles, were seized with great fear and begged Him to Leave whereas the crowd He returned to, the Jews, waited for Him in anticipation and welcomed Him.

Upon His return we see that a Synagogue official begged Jesus to save his young daughter.  And so Jesus sets off to save Jairus’ daughter.

At this point, Luke employs the literary device of “a story within a story.”  This practice is actually ancient within literature and was used in the Orient as well as other foreign lands.  The purpose of a story within a story varies.  Occasionally this literary device is used so that a character of the inner story informs, or sets an example for, a character in the outer story.  Sometimes the inner story is there for us; it draws our attention to something in the outer story.

In my estimation, the story within a story literary device is used in this pericope so that the synagogue official, Jairus, learns something from the person in the inner story, the woman with the hemorrhage.  Specifically, the woman demonstrates the faith that brings Jesus’ blessing.  When we are first introduce to Jairus we don’t know if his plea is born from fear or desperation. However, when the woman with the hemorrhage comes along we know that her faith is what healed her.  Did this woman’s faith set the example for Jairus to follow?  Can we be like the Woman with a hemorrhage?  Can our seeking of Jesus, our faith, and the healings we receive set an example for others?

Once I was in a group discussing scripture and we were asked “who are you in the story?”  A good friend of mine answered “Everyone!”  He was spot on.  He wasn’t saying that we’re everyone all at once in the story.  He explained that sometimes we are Jairus in need of Christ’s help; sometimes we are the woman with the hemorrhage seeking Christ in faith and in need of healing; sometimes we are the crowd welcoming, pressing in on, and following Jesus; sometimes we are Peter, James and John experiencing a rare opportunity to see Christ dispense mercy; and sometimes we are the little girl, metaphorically speaking, in need of having our life restored. (I say “metaphorically speaking” because in actuality until we are with Christ in heaven, we are always the little girl in need of new life.)

It depends on where we are in our spiritual life.  It’s not that we’re fickle.  You see, any good Christian is at times an excellent disciple and/or apostle.  At other times we seek Christ.  And still other times we reject Him – after all, at its root that’s what sin comes down to … a rejection of Christ.

Our prayerful response can be to ask for the grace to welcome Christ, to seek Him in faith, and to ask for His healing presence in our lives.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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