On the Seventh Sunday of St. Luke, the assigned pericope (Luke 8:40-56) tells us about two intertwined miracles of healing: the woman with an issue of blood, and the raising of a twelve-year-old girl, both occurring after Jesus calms the storm and heals the Gadarene Demoniac. In the retelling of these miracles, the Evangelist Luke emphasises on the coming-in-contact with the Lord Jesus. Upon His return from the country of Gadara, after manifesting His dominion over nature and unclean spirits, Christ is welcomed by the multitude. We read: the crowds “were all waiting for Him”, eager for both His teaching and His miracles (8:40).
Out of the crowd approached a certain ruler of the Synagogue who was well known in the community. St. Luke tells us that his name was Jairus, and he had “an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying” (8:42). At this point, all human authority seemed powerless in the face of death. Jairus had lost all hope, and the only thing left for this desperate father to do was approach Jesus. So, he went to entreat Christ, accompanying his request with humble prostrations before Him, and “besought Him to come to his house” (8:42). He thought, undoubtedly, that healing could only take place by the laying of hands.
But as Jesus went along the way to the house of Jairus, a woman drew near to Him who showed exceedingly great faith. The Evangelist Luke, as a practicing physician, presents details of this woman’s illness; she “had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had spent all her living upon physicians, and could not be healed by anyone” (8:43). So, across a span of twelve years, all human efforts and medical intervention had failed to cure her, causing a double dose of suffering; physical, as well as spiritual and social, for according to the Mosaic law her illness rendered her “unclean” (Lev. 15:25). For this reason, the woman was careful to remain concealed, for fear that having transgressed the law she would have to bear the punishment which it imposed.
The woman “came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His garment” (8:44). We see here an act of faith, and not one of discouragement that she had unsuccessfully spent all her money on doctors. The Evangelists Matthew and Mark added, “She said to herself if only I may touch His garment only, I shall be made well” (Matthew 9:21) and (Mark 5:28).
This miracle of healing deserves its place within the three synoptic Gospels because of the woman’s great humility and faith. She was not boisterous nor showy in her approach, and she even avoided revealing her suffering for many years. With quiet faith and confidence in Christ, she knew that if she touched even just His clothes, she would be healed. So, when she touched Him, “immediately her flow of blood ceased” (8:44).
Jesus then asked those around Him: “Who touched me?” (8:45). He knew full well who touched Him, but He wanted to reveal the woman’s faith to the multitude of people so that they might become imitators of her, and to strengthen the faith of the synagogue’s ruler.
Peter and those with Jesus were astonished by this strange question, as He was surrounded by a large crowd. Peter answered him: “Master, the multitudes surround You and press upon You! And You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” (8:45) But Jesus remained clear in His question; He was referring to a specific person who came and touched Him with faith for a specific purpose, as He answered them: “Someone touched Me; for I perceive that power has gone forth from Me” (8:46). Power had been emitted from Christ because the miracle had been accomplished by the power of His almighty authority. He is the source of this power of healing, unlike the rest of the prophets and apostles who perform miracles “by the power of God” and “in the name of Jesus”.
When the woman saw that she could not hide her actions, “she came trembling, and falling down before Him, declaring in the presence of all the people why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed” (8:47). After her confession, the Lord Jesus gave the woman a double cure: He healed her illness, and furthermore, dispelled the fear from her trembling soul by saying, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (8:48).
We continue to read that this miracle of healing delayed Jesus from going to the synagogue ruler’s house, perhaps on purpose. While Jesus was still speaking, a man from the ruler’s house came and interrupted the conversation by saying, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher anymore” (8:49). Jesus immediately relieved the anxiety of this desperate father by saying, “Do not fear; only believe, and she shall be well” (8:50). Here is a clear indication of the importance of personal faith and prayer in healing and helping others. We recall how the faith of the paralytic man’s relatives led to his recovery (Luke 5:17–26), and here we see that the faith of the father of a young girl will be the reason for raising her from death.
Then Jesus entered the house with three of the chief disciples: Peter, James, and John, and the young girl’s parents as witnesses to this miracle. All were weeping and bewailing her, but Jesus said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping” (8:52). Perhaps Christ said this to them to allow them to confirm her death, so as not to leave room for doubt that she had died, and to demonstrate that death is nothing but a falling asleep. They laughed at Him knowing that she was dead. Then Jesus took her by the hand, saying, “Child, arise,” (8:54) and her spirit returned. She got up at once, and Jesus directed that something should be given to her to eat. Perhaps this was to confirm to them the fact that she had indeed risen from the dead.
The young girl’s parents were amazed by this miracle, “so He instructed them not to tell anyone what had happened” (8:56). In His divine wisdom, the Master saw that it was not appropriate for those outside who were weeping and bewailing her to know about the miracle, perhaps because of the unpreparedness of their spiritual status, or perhaps He did not want to reveal this miracle to the Jews before the time, because of their envy and conspiracy against Him. In any case, word of this miracle would have spread like wildfire as soon as the girl went out and appeared in front of the crowd and her relatives.
There is a parallel between the two miracles in today’s biblical passage of double miracles; ‘faith’ is the main theme in both. The Lord Jesus showed mercy towards the bleeding woman and the parents of the dead girl. He said to the bleeding woman, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (8:48). To Jairus: “Do not fear; only believe, and she shall be well.” (8:50) In both cases, they came into contact with Jesus. The bleeding woman “came behind him and touched the hem of his garment” (8:44). As for the dying girl, “He took her by the hand” (8:54). In both miracles, the healing occurred “immediately” or “at once”, showing the divine authority of Christ; He commands and is obeyed. Another parallel is the number twelve: the bleeding woman had been sick for twelve years, and Jairus’ daughter was twelve years old. Is this symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel and the Mosaic law, which cannot stop the spiritual bleeding of sin, and cannot raise the dead if it does not come into personal and direct contact with the person of the Lord Jesus?
Every miracle requires a ‘synergy’ or cooperation between faith from the petitioner and divine power from the Bestower. Without this cooperation between ‘faith’ and ‘divine grace’, no healing can be obtained. Christian faith is far from magic and sorcery, and nothing will happen by itself if we do not approach it with faith and firm belief in the person of the Lord Jesus. Amen.
+ Metropolitan Basilios