What I see at the end of Luke chapter 8 is a lot of what Jesus has been saying and doing coming to head in two very different healing accounts. I think I can say with some certainty that Luke intended all of chapter 8 and part of chapter 7 to sort of form a unit because this entire account is bookended by a statement of faith in a person creating a favorable result. For example, near the end of Luke 8, Jesus makes the statement “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace” (v.48). As I read that passage it dawned on me that I have recently read something similar to it and lo and behold at the end of Luke 7 Jesus says “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (v.50).
Now think about it, Jesus in chapter 8 has been talking about this very thing: faith. He has couched it in teaching about hearing and obeying or practicing what you hear. And so when Jesus talks about the faith of someone, what is he really talking about – faith in faith? No! He is talking about faith in Him and His word. Everything and everyone is hearing the voice of Jesus, yea even the voice of God, but who are the people who are obeying? When push comes to shove, who is obeying and putting what they have heard into practice. Who will put their full trust in Jesus as having the words of eternal life?
Well, we come to Luke 8.40-56 and we two accounts from Luke of the healing ministry of Jesus. But I believe these accounts are strategically placed for a reason. Jesus has been dealing with and teaching about hearing and obeying; he has been talking about faith in Him. However, now we get a look at two different faith responses from two different camps who encounter Jesus.
The Response of Belief
A woman walks the streets in shame, scorned by society. Unclean. She has been the subject of a disease which is taking its toll on her body, has humiliated her, and ruined her worship activities. However, she has heard of the man named Jesus who has the ability to make sick people well. No one has been able to help her for twelve long years; doctors can’t figure it out or do anything about. But maybe Jesus can. Luke does not record the internal conversation this woman has with herself as Matthew does, but she thinks if I just touch his cloak, the hem of his garment, I will be made whole.
The first response of faith we see is belief; belief that Jesus can do something, can help, can heal. With childlike faith, faith that defies social norms and ignores the crushing throng, this woman approaches Jesus from behind and touches him. Luke records that immediately her blood stopped flowing. Twelve years of sickness gone in an instant. Commentators tell us that she probably touched the tassles that hung from the garment slung over the shoulder, that is the fringe of his clothing. Whatever part of his clothing she touched, by faith she was healed.
The secret touch was not secret for long. Because when you touch Jesus with purpose…see all the people “crushing” Jesus in the throng may have touched Jesus, but they did not have purpose. They did not have the faith this woman had. She has purpose, intent. She has a desire to made whole. And when she touches Jesus, power leaves him, that is healing power. This prompts him to ask the question: “Who touched me?” She is found out and with great fear (she is trembling), she approaches Jesus, fall before him, and explaining her circumstances. The fear and terror this woman may have are assuaged when he says to her “your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
The Response of Unbelief
Jarius’ friends and family are not as trusting of Jesus. Jarius knows the power of Jesus and it is on the way to his house that the woman touches Jesus. Someone comes, while Jesus is still on the way, and announces his daughter is dead. Surely dismay and distress swept over the crowd. Jarius probably was hurt. But Jesus offers comfort. While the daughter was sick, there was still the possiblity Jesus could make her whole. But now that she is gone, what can Jesus do? Hence, Jesus says, “Just believe.” Just have faith. Have the same kind of faith that touches garments, that believes Jesus, even through secret touch, can heal. You can almost hear his words to the disciples on the boat, “Where is your faith?”
Once again, Jesus is laughed at. When he announces that the girl is asleep the crowds erupts. So Jesus, with Peter, James John, Jarius, and the mother enter the room where the girl lay and Jesus brings he back to life. Have faith. Believe.
In addition, these accounts confirm the message spoken by Jesus. He is the Son of God and therefore his teaching must be heard and obeyed. The miracles demonstrate he is apporved by God.
What about our faith? Do we have a faith that reaches out for the fringe of His garment, believing Jesus can do what he says can do? Or do we lose hope and respond with unbelief, not wishing to bother the Master? I would hope it would be the response of faith and belief. We need a faith that is constantly reaching for the garment, believing Jesus is big enough to fix whatever issue we may have in life. We need to turn over our lives to the teacher and listen to him, ready to receive his word and obey it.