Waiting on Jesus: Luke 8.40-56

Have you ever had to wait for something? Maybe, you wanted to grow out a bad haircut. Or, like many of us in the Northwoods, you waited for plants to emerge from the ground after a long winter.

In Luke 8.40-56, we learn about a fantastic double miracle. Both recipients rely on Jesus to care for them. One recipient has to wait on Jesus.

An Urgent Request (:40-4a). Jesus and His disciples have just returned from the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They’re met by crowds which, in Luke, often function as curious, uncommitted onlookers. Suddenly, the leader (arch-leader, in fact) of the synagogue is at Jesus’ feet. It turns out that his twelve-year-old daughter is in the act of dying. Jairus has flung himself on Jesus. Jesus responds instantly, and departs to Jairus’ house.

An Immediate Response (:42b-48). While Jesus travels the crowd presses on Him. (The word “presses” is the same word used of the thorns that choke the good plants in 8.14). There’s no room to turn, to maneuver. Stealthily, a woman slips through the crowd. We’re told that she is bleeding. Her disorder is something on the order or a uterine hemorrhage. Doubtless, she’s physically weak and ceremonially unclean. According to the law of the day, anyone touching her would be likewise unclean. It’s deeply personal and psychologically damaging. We’re told she’d suffered so for twelve years, spent all her money, and nobody could help her, until now.

Believing Jesus could heal her she touches the fringe of His garment … and is immediately healed!

Who was it that touched me? Jesus asked (:45, ESV). It’s not that He doesn’t know. He’s up to something. Nobody confesses, so Peter (always with a flair for the obvious) gets involved.

Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you (:45b), Peter contributes. Jesus declares that power has gone out from Him. And, while it sounds a bit Harry Potter-like to us, we’re reminded that power is at the heart of Jesus’ relationship to both the Father and the Spirit (e.g. 1.35).

The woman is exposed. Though healed, her fears are realized. Perhaps, she’s made Jesus unclean. Certainly, she doesn’t want her previous condition made known. But, she is most horrified, perhaps, because she is no longer hidden. Jesus is forcing her outside of herself.

Even so, Jesus recognizes her faith. It’s not that she had much faith, but she had faith in Jesus as the object of her faith. (See also Luke 17.5-6). Jesus declares her at peace (:48). Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace. 

And with that we see that Jairus, an exalted man, has made himself vulnerable, and a vulnerable woman has been exalted.

But, what of Jairus?

A Timely Result (:49-56). Jairus is still there. Waiting patiently, maybe. Until a messenger approaches from the house. Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher anymore … (:49). Jesus’ diversion has cost a life, apparently. We can’t fault Jairus, if only quietly, he is crushed and frustrated at Jesus for dinking around. Certainly, he’s had to wait.

But, Jesus has compassion on Jairus. Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well (:50). Faith is the opposite of fear here. Wait, Jairus … do you still believe?

Jesus enters the house privately. The paid mourners perform outside. She’s dead, and everybody knows it. Yet, Jesus has come to overcome death, and we get a little taste of the endgame here. Jesus takes the girl’s hand and shouts to her, like she’s asleep. (I think he’s playing along here a bit.) The girl is raised; she eats, and life returns to normal. Her parents are amazed, and Jesus (curiously) instructs that nobody be told of the event. He hadn’t come to do miracles; He’d come to die. And the manner of life His followers will live will not consist in one victory after the next, but in suffering and sacrifice until they are transformed and alive with Him.

Like a complex dish of food with many flavors coming through, there are complex themes that come through in this account. The strongest of them may be this one:

Those whom Jesus includes depend on Him to care for them, but in His time. 

Both Jairus and the woman received from Jesus. Jesus said YES to the woman, and she received from Him right away. Jesus also said YES to Jairus; only to Jairus, He said YES, BUT NOT YET. And Jairus had to wait for Jesus while Jesus turned up at the time of His own choosing.

So, have you ever had to wait for Jesus? How do you wait for Jesus well?

I love John 15.7-8: If you abide in me, and my words abide in you (in other words, you’re walking with Jesus), ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 

When we’re waiting for Jesus, anxiously like Jairus, maybe, we need to pray that we’ll grow in faith. We need to pray that God will be glorified. And, we need to know that Jesus always says YES to those in His will. Sometimes, He says YES, NOW. Sometimes, He says YES, NOT YET.

All of this has to be seen in light of the end. As surely has Jesus has overcome death at the cross and the tomb, He’ll return to mop up and take the plunder. (First Corinthians 15 comes to mind.) Some of our requests won’t be granted till then. We’ll be like Jairus who had to wait for Jesus to turn up in His time. But, then it will be YES … YES … YES, in Jesus.

As surely as Jesus has saved us and is coming back, Jesus cares for those who depend on Him.

  1. Which of the two figures in the story do you most identify with? The woman, or Jairus?
  2. Have you ever had to wait on Jesus? What was it like?
  3. Did you grow during your time of waiting? How?
  4. Thinking along the lines of John 15.7-8, what does it mean to pray according to God’s will?
  5. What does it mean for Jesus to say YES, BUT NOT YET to our prayers that are asked according to His will?

2 thoughts on “Waiting on Jesus: Luke 8.40-56”

  1. The statement you used is, “He hadn’t come to do miracles; He’d come to die. “. This is not just a declaration of truth, but one that startles the heart and mind! It is the greatest of all truth for mankind. God’s love for us is dramatized in it. Yet, we can become unmoved by it if we do not seek to be drawn close through the ministry of His indwelling Spirit. The “crowd” of business would separate us from the personal impact HE seeks to make upon us.

    Often we need to go to the “waiting room”. Pray that we let HIM put business out of the room as HE did when HE gave life back the Jairus’ little girl. Let us hear HIM say, “Do you still believe?” With your whole heart answer HIM.

    1. So pleased you found this arresting, Dan. I think it is!
      And what drama this account contains. At different times, we’re both Jairus and the woman, and both had to learn that Jesus always turns up when He means to!

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