Faith and the Power of Jesus Christ
The exercise of faith is very prominent in these verses. This should not surprise us, for “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). But biblical faith must be clearly defined. “All men do not have faith” (2 Thess. 3:2). Faith is not an inner power we have that is waiting to be used. Faith in God, even in the believer, does not obtain from God something he does not intend to give us. Neither faith nor our prayers change his mind or purposes. Faith does not mean that you can be and have anything you want provided you believe in yourself, want it enough, or believe enough. Faith is not intense concentration on what we want but trust in God’s promise and moving ahead in obedience to his word. Faith is God’s gift to us (Eph. 2:8-9). The faith that obtains his blessing is a gift he gives to dead men. Faith is an instrument or means to obtain what he has promised to give in his word. It has no intrinsic power. The value and power of faith lie in believing that God exists and that he is faithful to his promises. Faith primarily is “receiving and resting upon Jesus Christ as he is offered in the gospel.” All God’s promises are deposited in Jesus Christ, and we must draw them from our Savior. This is the faith that saves and makes whole – when feeling our deadness and need of God’s help, we turn to our Savior and draw from his fullness. Faith looks away from self, away from weakness, and lays hold upon the powerful Savior who loves us.
We also learn in these verses that faith must be exercised. Faith is an active principle. Jairus’ daughter would not have been raised from the dead or the bleeding woman healed if they had remained in their homes and thought, “Well, if God wants to do something for me, let him do it.” Too many believers, when they get hold of false views of God’s sovereignty go to sleep. We must understand that faith obtains the promises. Hebrews 11 shows this. Faith works. Faith believes. Faith seeks. Faith is not paralyzed by the thought that God is in control, so there is no point is doing anything. Instead, believing that God’s will is inseparable from the promises he has made known to us in his word, that he has ordained prayer and seeking to be the means of receiving, it joyfully and in submission to his will prays fervently, seeks persistently, and gives God no rest until he fulfill his promises. And it rests in his wisdom also, for he may choose to fulfill his promises later and always works in ways that we do not anticipate so that often from the lowest weakness he manifests his love and power on our behalf – when we wait upon him, turn from our sins, and trust his precious promises.
Jairus Comes to Jesus (vv. 41-42)
We should never group all the Jews of Jesus’ day in the same boat of unbelief. Then as now, the Lord had his 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Jairus was a ruler of the synagogue, and he had heard of Jesus’ mighty works and perhaps his words. However clearly he believed or understood, when his daughter became dangerously ill, he went to Jesus. He bowed before him – a ruler bowing before Jesus, as all rulers in church and state must if they desire the blessing of heaven. He did not allow his distinguished position to make him too proud to bow. His honor among men did not squeeze fatherly love out of his heart, as it does to many men. We learn here a practical truth about obtaining Jesus’ help: we must come to him as humble suppliants for mercy, respecting his authority, and trusting in his power alone. Jairus was brought to see his utter inability to do anything to save his daughter. Our children may be perfectly healthy, but we have other places where we need his help. Sadly, we approach him carelessly, without due respect for his majesty, without feeling our need, without believing and seeking his help with the earnestness that is honest and humble. Lord, you alone can help me. I will wait upon you until you help me. Jesus agreed to go with Jairus.
His faith was probably unclear. Perhaps he thought that Jesus could do something to help only if he came while there was still life. His faith was not as strong as the centurion’s, who knew that Jesus had only “to speak the word, and his servant would be healed” (Matt. 8:8). But our Lord does not help us only when our faith is perfect, or we understand clearly who he is. If this were the case, he would help none. For it is not the quality or quantity of our faith that obtains the blessing we seek, but the One to whom we look for blessing. He accepts weak or unclear faith. He hears the cries of the poor and needy. He did not come to heal and help good and perfect men, but sinners and crying and hurting men and women. Let us take this deeply into our souls – about ourselves and others. Let us remember this as we think about our national need of the help of the powerful Savior. We cannot make ourselves good enough for his help. Knowing all the right truths is not a precondition of seeking him. Bow before him, confess your need, cry your tears, and ask for his help. It is the craving of the heart for mercy that finds his heart open and ready to help. Let us not forget this. It will make us more compassionate and more realistic about what we need to tell men. Hurting men do not initially need long catechisms and lectures about their deficiencies. They need to be pointed to the merciful Savior who saves the dying – and the dead.
The Woman Who Crawled to Jesus (vv. 43-48)
If Only I Can Touch His Garment (vv. 43-44; Matt. 9:21)
Jesus walked with Jairus through the dense crowds. Could they not move more quickly? Another soul seeking Jesus’ help reached up from behind to touch one of the tassels that hung from the corner of Jesus’ traditional robe. This woman had a condition that Luke describes delicately; she had been bleeding for twelve years. She had spent all she had on doctors, but she grew worse, not better. Years she had been ceremonially unclean. Any who touched her would contract defilement. She had pled with God. She was alone and poor. She waited for relief. She heard of the man from Nazareth, like Jairus – his mighty works and words. Matthew records her one thought – if I can only touch the hem of his garment, I shall be healed. Perhaps there was an element of superstition in her desire, but her faith was pure. She was convinced that Jesus could heal her. She could not dare approach him directly, for fear of the response of the crowds; she might be recognized. The embarrassment was too great. A pariah she was, to all but to God, who sent his Son near enough so that she might venture to draw near to him. Her faith was imperfect, but it was true. She looked to Jesus Christ as her only helper. She believed that he was able. She reached out and touched his garment. Immediately the flow of blood was staunched, and she was completely healed. She felt herself healed.
Who Touched Me? (vv. 45-46)
Lest we think there was magic in Jesus’ robe or that the woman was healed independently of his will, the Lord effects another and deeper healing. He stopped and asked: Who touched me? He felt virtue or healing power gone out from him. Peter was disturbed by his question. In that mass of humanity, who had not touched Jesus? No, somebody in particular touched me, he replied. It is not every touch that elicits his response like this, but the touch of faith. Many will jostle around Jesus Christ in churches every week, but not everyone will touch him in faith, seek healing and forgiveness by his power, come crawling to him as their only hope. The touch of faith he will recognize, for he has reached out to that soul first, drawing it to him to find help and hope.
She Falls at Jesus’ Feet and Tells All (v. 47)
The woman was cornered. Escape was impossible, and it is likely she did not want to escape. Jesus did not want her to escape. Her healing was incomplete. Everyone who knew her must know who had healed her and that she was truly clean. Trembling, she fell down before him, like Jairus had just done – and this should have encouraged him mightily to keep believing – and confessed everything. It was the moment of her deepest healing – no more hiding, no more fear, unburdening her soul of the secret she dreaded and of the loneliness that had consumed her existence. She attributed her healing completely to our Lord’s power. When the Lord heals us – and he still heals, directly or indirectly – whether of bodily infirmity or plaguing sin or aching bitterness or rebellious worldliness, we must confess to him and to all what he has done for us. We must not go on our way like the nine lepers, happy to be healed but cold to the Healer. Joy is quenched and God’s honor buried by our pride when we do not confess that Jesus Christ alone has healed us. Begin with family and friends. Tell them what Jesus Christ has done for your soul, your body, family, and life. This is the witness to him that none can contest. It may not be believed, but our testimony will leave its mark. If you want to be made whole, come to the Savior.
Daughter, Your Faith Has Made You Whole (v. 48)
Our Lord’s power is joined with deepest compassion. “Daughter” – not “you unclean woman” but “Daughter” – a term of affection, intimacy, and family. This thrilled her to the core of her being. She may have never seen Jesus again in her earthly life, but she ever remembered his “Daughter.” “Be of good comfort.” As with Nathaniel, our Lord had known this woman’s sorrow. He had ordained it, joy’s weight is greatest where he has lifted the weight of deep grief, sin and sorrow. I have not left you one minute longer in your pain than was necessary for my glory and your joy. O, to hear Jesus say this word of comfort to us! He offers it to all who bring to him their diseases and dreads, their sins and filth. He comforts all who look to him in faith. “Your faith has made you whole.” Faith laid hold of Jesus’ power and grace. Faith is but an instrument; the woman had to learn this more fully. She had to hear the comforting voice of Jesus giving her gospel hope. She had to know her Redeemer, body and soul. “Go in peace” – for the first time in many a long year of weeping and poverty, this woman could now pick up the threads of her life under Jesus’ benediction. It lies upon you, believer, who look to Jesus Christ in faith.
The Dead Raised by the Power of Jesus Christ (vv. 49-56)
Faith Sorely Tried but Encouraged (vv. 49-50)
As Jesus pronounced healing and blessing, dark news came for Jairus – your daughter is dead. Our faith will face many obstacles when we come to Jesus. He says to us what he said to Jairus: “Fear not, believe only” – I have said I will come to your daughter, and I will. Like Peter on the seas – keep looking to me, trusting me. We are told nothing about Jairus’ response, but our Savior’s word sustains us when the world comes crashing down and we do not know what to say. “She will be made whole” – but from death? Jairus may have thought he was following Jesus to his daughter’s wake, but he kept following him. No matter what happens to us or the storms we are passing through, “Do not fear” is one our Lord’s most regular commands to his disciples. I am with you – why would you fear?
And yet, fear is powerful, and our faith is but a weak instrument. This is intentional on God’s part, so that we will not trust our faith but the One who has promised. We have a great treasure in the gospel, but we are fragile vessels of God’s power, that the “excellency of the power may be of him” (2 Cor. 4:7). Too many speak of the “mighty power of faith,” but we do not trust our faith but the mighty power and faithfulness of our God and Father. Faith holds fast to him, because it loves him. Loving him, we hold to God’s promise against the whole weight of the world’s unbelief and even our unbelief, for our faith is never perfect (Mark 9:24). Faith overcomes the world and obtains its desire not because of anything in us but because of God’s power to uphold us and his faithfulness to his promises. And remember, “fear not” and “believe only” are commands. With his commands, our Father always give us grace to obey.
Our Lord Laughed to Scorn (vv. 51-54)
Arriving at Jairus’ house, Jesus permitted none to enter into the girl’s room but her parents, as well as Peter, James, and John – two or three official witnesses were all that was required. These three men were Jesus’ chosen witnesses here, at the Transfiguration, and in Gethsemane. Why he always chose these three men must always remain something of a mystery, but even among the apostles who shared equal authority, there were undoubtedly diversity of gifts and callings. The house was filled with mourners and wailers. Jesus said to them, “She is not dead, but sleeps.” “Sleep” is the usual New Testament description of believers who die. Believing in Jesus as the resurrection and the life, we never die in the fullest sense of death (John 11:26), for to be “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:6-8). Our bodies are laid in the ground to be awakened and glorified on the last day. But these mourners laughed our Lord to scorn. It would not be the last laugh of the world at our Lord or at us. This is a strange sight – to go from wailing to scorning in a moment, but such is the fickleness of the unbelieving heart. Jesus put them out of the room. No place there for those who doubt God’s word. Let us not be shut out of the room of healing because we do not believe his promise and trust his power. Let us turn from the path of the scorners and walk by faith.
Arise! (vv. 55-56)
Going to her bed, stalking death, Jesus Christ took the maid by the hand and called to her – “Arise.” Never must we lose wonder at the power of our Lord. Fear of man if not killed completely in this life must suffer a debilitating blow if we adore and trust death’s Killer. Loving him, we can love him unto death. Death is a great gulf to us, but not to him. His voice crosses the divide. The dead can hear his voice, calling them to new life. The girl’s spirit returned and she immediately arose, completely healed. Jesus called her spirit back from paradise, to know more of him before she was ripened for everlasting life. He commanded that food be given to her. How earthy and practical is our Lord’s compassion! She did not need to tell stories of the “great beyond;” she needed strength to serve him on earth. Her parents were astonished, as we would and should be. Even believing in the Lord Jesus, we are often amazed at those who recover from serious illnesses. How much more should we stand amazed before him who commands death to give up its victims! Now being the resurrected Lord of heaven and earth, he has the keys of death and hell on his belt. Then, as the God-Man, he had power over death, even his own death. He could lay down his life and take it up again. We should never fear death but trust him who is the Lord of death.
His command to her parents to “tell no one” is consistent with his usual methods in such cases. It was not “his hour,” and he did not want to push his Father’s hand or stir the fickle people to social unrest. Many would learn of this girl’s raising; it could not be hidden. But the Lord did not call her parents to become missionaries of his glory, as he did the man from whom he cast out Legion. It was better for them to rejoice as a family in his mighty works, to believe on his name, and to testify calmly to his compassion and power in the course of normal life. This is his will for most believers now. In the course of life, others should see that we have been raised from sin’s deadly slavery and made servants to righteousness. The white fields do not need only specifically called laborers but also a host of bold confessors who in their families worship, and in their callings serve, and in their churches worship the mighty Savior. Let us join that host and be more intentional in the way we bear witness to our Lord. He must be for us the love of our life, for he has done great things for us. He has raised us once, and he shall one day raise us finally.