40 Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.
As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. 43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” – Luke 8:40-48 ESV
The disciples sailed back to the opposite shore with their minds filled with the images of the herd of demon-possessed swine plummeting over the cliff into the sea and the former demoniac sitting calmly at the feet of Jesus. It had been a whirlwind 24 hours. They had witnessed Jesus calm a violent storm and restore a demon-possessed man to sanity. In addition, they had heard those demons refer to their master as “Jesus, Son of the Most High God” (Luke 8:287 ESV). In a sense, with the testimony of the demons still ringing in their ears, they had unknowingly received the answer they had posed earlier. When they had witnessed the miracle of Jesus calming the storm, they had asked, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:251 ESV).
They should have had their answer. But Jesus was not done revealing the true nature of His identity. There would be more God-ordained encounters in the days ahead that would provide further proof that Jesus was who He claimed to be and who the demons confessed Him to be.
Having returned from their brief but eventful trip to the region of Decapolis, Jesus and His disciples found themselves immediately surrounded by a large crowd. Luke gives the impression that, before Jesus could even disembark from the boat, the masses of people had been lining the shoreline.
On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him. – Luke 8:40 NLT
Still standing by the sea and surrounded by a mass of people, Jesus was approached by a man named Jairus, who was a ruler in the local synagogue. This man was not a professional priest, but a layman who was responsible for conducting Sabbath services and for the ongoing care of the synagogue. His role would have made him a recognized and well-respected member of the local community. And his high-visibility position most likely resulted in some familiarity with the Pharisees and other religious rulers of Israel. So, when he kneeled at the feet of Jesus, in front of a large gathering of his own neighbors and friends, he was taking a great risk – not only personally but professionally.
We know from John’s gospel that the religious leaders of Israel were intensifying their efforts to discredit Jesus and to pressure the people from following Him. John records an occasion when Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth. When the Pharisees interrogated the man’s parents, attempting to discern whether he had truly been born blind, the two were racked with fear. And John tells us why.
His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. – John 9:22 ESV
Yet, here was Jairus, a ruler in the local synagogue, kneeling before Jesus and begging Him to heal His daughter.
And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house. – Luke 8:41 ESV
Luke uses the same Greek word, parakaleō, that he used to describe how the demons begged Jesus not to torment them, but to cast them into the swine. And it was the same word he used to describe the fearful townspeople begging Jesus to leave their community. Jairus was desperate and determined to have Jesus heal his daughter.
This man was emotionally distraught and willing to do anything to save the life of his dying daughter. She meant far more to him than his career or reputation. And if expressing faith in Jesus could preserve her life, the loss of his job was a price he was willing to pay. And much to his relief, Jesus agreed to go with him. But they didn’t go alone. Luke reports that “As Jesus went, the people pressed around him” (Luke 8:42 ESV). The crowd moved en masse, pressing in on Jesus and the anxious father as they made their way to the man’s home. But before they could reach their destination, something else took place.
There was another individual in the crowd that day. But, unlike the ruler of the synagogue, this person held no high position within the community. She was an obscure, unnamed woman who had made her way to the seashore that day with the desperate hope of receiving healing from this man named Jesus. But she was just one among many, struggling to fight her way through the crowd in an effort to get close enough to touch the hem of His garment.
This woman had what appears to be an incurable medical condition that Mark describes as “a discharge of blood” (Luke 8:435 ESV). And she had suffered with it for 12 long years. Not only that, she had exhausted all her resources seeking a cure through traditional medical treatments. But nothing had worked. In fact, her condition had grown worse, leaving her in a state of desperation. But unlike Jairus, the crowds were not going to part and allow her access to Jesus. She was going to have to fight and claw her way through the bustling crowd just to get close enough to see Jesus.
But what stands out is the woman’s faith. She fully believed that if she could only touch Jesus’ robe, she would be healed. In his gospel account, Mark provides the motivation behind her actions that day.
“If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” – Mark 5:28 ESV
Jairus was convinced that if Jesus would only touch his daughter, she would be made well. This woman believed that if she could just touch Jesus, she would be healed. Both believed that Jesus was the solution to their particular problem.
Somehow, this frail and physically weakened woman forced her way through the crowd and touched the edge of Jesus’ robe. And Luke describes that “immediately her discharge of blood ceased” (Luke 8:44 ESV). Marks adds, “and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease” (Mark 5:29 ESV). Her healing was immediate, and she knew it. But no one else in the crowd was even aware of her presence, and they had no idea that a miracle had even taken place. Yet, Jesus did.
Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” – Mark 5:30 NLT
Luke reports that Jesus informed His disciples, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me” (Luke 8:46 ESV). It seems likely that Jesus was fully aware of the woman’s identity. He could have said nothing and simply allowed the woman to walk away unnoticed and rejoicing in her renewed health. But Jesus wanted His disciples to know what had happened. And He was willing to postpone his trip to Jairus’ house in order to reveal the miracle that had just taken place.
Suddenly exposed and unable to extricate herself from the crowd, the woman timidly and guiltily stepped forward.
When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. – Luke 8:47 NLT
Once again, her confession was not for Jesus’ benefit. He already knew what had happened. But this woman’s remarkable testimony was meant to encourage the disciples and provide them with further evidence of Jesus identity. It was also meant to illustrate the kind of faith they were supposed to have. Notice what Jesus said to the woman.
“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” – Luke 8:48 ESV
Jesus had not spoken her healing into existence. He had not even touched her. And yet, she stood before Him completely whole. It was her faith in Jesus that had brought about her remarkable transformation. But Jesus wanted to correct a dangerous misconception in the woman’s thinking. She had reasoned that there must be some kind of power emanating from Jesus, and that this power must be transferable. But Jesus insists that her healing was the result of faith, not superstition or some kind of supernatural force field.
As incredible as it may sound, at the moment the woman touched the edge of His robe, Jesus was aware of the woman’s presence, the purpose of her action, and He willingly released His power to heal her. This was not some kind of automatic outflow of energy that was outside of Jesus’ control or volition. There were countless people who touched Him that day, many of whom longed to receive healing. But it was only this woman who received that for which she had hoped. And Jesus describes her action as an example of faith.
The author of Hebrews describes faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 ESV). This woman hoped to be healed, and was fully assured it would happen if she could only manage to get close enough to touch the edge of Jesus’ robe. She didn’t need to talk to Him. She believed His power was so great that a simple touch of His garment could do what countless physicians had been unable to do. And her faith was rewarded.
And when Jesus said, “be healed of your disease” (Mark 5:34 ESV), He was confirming the veracity of her testimony and the source of her healing. It had been Him.
But before the crowds could take in all that had just happened or the disciples could ask any questions, the mood of the moment was about to take a dramatically dark turn. The focus was going to shift from healing to death, from joy to sorrow, and from hope to despair. But Jesus was far from done.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.