Our blogger Judith has written in recent months about both the woman with a flow of blood and Jairus’ daughter. In a recent family conversation, both of them came up again, and the discussion would have evolved differently if I hadn’t had Judith’s thoughts in mind. It certainly went to places we weren't expecting!
I was noticing in Luke 8 that the story of the woman with the blood occurs in the middle of the story of Jairus’s daughter. Jairus has approached Jesus and Jesus has started to go with him to his house, when the woman touches his hem. When she identifies herself to him, Jesus calls her “daughter.” And of course he is on his way to see Jairus’s daughter. Jairus is the leader of the synagogue, which is a pinnacle of society, which means his daughter is also elevated socially, about as high as a female can get. Whereas the woman’s flow of blood causes her to be ritually unclean, and therefore excluded from the synagogue. Jairus’ little girl is twelve, on the cusp of womanhood, about to become marriageable. The two stories juxtaposed like this illustrate for me that Jesus came to take care of people at both extremes (and therefore, surely, everyone in between). The fact that these two exist on the extremes of society is made even more clear, structurally, by the fact that the incident with the woman takes place out in the open with a huge crowd of people around and she confesses in the hearing of all of them. The girl’s healing, on the other hand, is very private, and Jesus tells the very few witnesses not to say anything about it to anyone.
My son noticed Christ doesn’t refer to other miracles as acts of power, as he does here. The end of the miracle is signaled by his saying, “Your faith has cured you,” which seems to show that his power, and power in Christ lies in faith. It backs up all these examples that his strength is from and in the Father, and that that is the source of his power. The faith is what cures, and that is the power that he’s referring to. And he says, “anything you ask of the Father will be granted.” And even though he tells Jairus, just have faith and your daughter will be ok, when he tells them the girl is just sleeping, they all laugh at him, but he cures her anyway. Clearly, even though there are times when people’s faith is weaker, he doesn’t abandon us then either.
My daughter also noticed the parallels in the use of the word “daughter” and the head of the synagogue asking for help on behalf of his daughter, and Jesus calling the women “daughter” and through that parallel about differences between the two stories and why they would be placed parallel to each other. In one, the head of the synagogue is begging Jesus--and then this woman just goes and gets healed because she just knows it’ll work. And he acknowledges her, and after that he says to the man, “only have faith and she will be okay.” And I think that it was a great demonstration of how we need to be--I feel like I’m often in the position of saying “help me” but sometimes you just have to go out and get the healing yourself. That's how you get it in the end (and sometimes people have to ask on your behalf). Just show faith.
For my husband it stood out how much Jesus loves and elevates and heals women. He shows deep attention to them. He also noticed all this movement in the passage and visually imagined Jesus walking in the center of this spiral where there is this woman whom he heals, then he leaves that for the privacy of the house, and in the middle that kind of swirling eddy, which is people.
Patricia Fann Bouteneff was recently elected to the the position of past-president of Axia Women.