Sunday sermon – Luke 8:40-56
When we read of Jesus healing the sick, or even raising the dead, we may react with conflicted thoughts. On the one hand, we marvel at the power of the Lord to overcome disease and death with a mere word. On the other hand, we may wonder why Jesus doesn’t do these same miraculous works today? Why do we and those we love suffer from sickness? Why does Jesus not intervene in the death of a child, to bring her back to life and back to her grieving parents?
These are not easy questions, but it helps to understand the reason why Jesus performed such miracles during his ministry on earth. Partly he did so out of compassion for those who suffered the miseries that sickness and death bring. His heart was moved by human suffering, and a great part of his ministry was freeing people from all kinds of grievous afflictions. But Jesus carried out these mighty works for another reason, to point people to even greater blessings than physical health and life in this world. His miracles of healing and raising the dead indicated that he came to bring us spiritual healing and eternal, resurrection life.
In Luke 8:40-56 Jesus first healed a woman who had had a continuous flow of blood for 12 years. Then he raised a little girl to new life who had just died. Both of these miracles were acts of divine mercy on suffering people; Jesus saved the woman from the pain and shame of her disease, he saved the girl from death, and he saved her parents from life-long grief. But his works signified a greater salvation that he came to accomplish for us.
The woman with a flow of blood suffered not just the physical and emotional effects of her sickness, but her condition was a spiritual disease as well. According to the law of Moses, which still governed the people of Israel at the time of Jesus’ coming into the world, the woman would have been unclean as long as she had the discharge of blood (Leviticus 15:25). This meant she could not go into the temple of the Lord to worship him and offer sacrifices. She was effectively cut off from God’s presence. In other words, she was spiritually alienated from God by her uncleanness.
But Jesus healed her with his touch (or rather, with her touch of his garment!). By his grace and power, in an instant, he made her both physically and spiritually clean. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, he takes away the uncleanness of our sins and brings us back into communion with God. This is the greater salvation Jesus indicated by this miracle. He came to restore us to God, that we might know him as our Father and enjoy the fullness of life that only he can give us.
Likewise, when Jesus raised to life the dead daughter of Jairus the synagogue ruler, he was demonstrating that he came to give sinners new life. According to Scripture, we are just as dead spiritually as this little girl was dead physically (see Ephesians 2:5). Even at birth, we are dead to God and his righteousness. And apart from God’s grace, we continue in that death throughout this life and for all eternity. But thanks be to God that Christ came to give us life from the dead! He was raised from the grave that we might be raised to new life. That spiritual new life is ours even now in this life, and will be ours in fullness when Christ returns to raise our dead bodies from the grave to eternal, resurrection life.
So we may not see in our own experience miraculous healings and the revival of the dead. But even as we suffer the grief and pain of sickness and death in this world, God gives us the promise of far better blessings: an eternity of joyful communion with our heavenly Father in resurrected bodies that immortal and imperishable. And with this hope in our hearts, by the grace God supplies, we can bear with patience the infirmities and sorrows of this sad world.
Soli Deo Gloria!