TO WHOM DO WE TURN IN TIMES OF SICKNESS AND DEATH?
SERIES: JESUS, SAVIOR OF THE LOST
By Ron Ritchie
In late summer of 1964, I flew from Dallas to Philadelphia. A friend met
me at the airport and we drove through a severe summer storm until we arrived
in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As we parked the car in front of the funeral
home, the wind was driving the rain into the earth. We ran through the rain,
up the wooden steps and onto the covered porch. I remember turning around
and looking up at the dark storm clouds and the driving rain. A number of
crows were flying over the swaying trees, seemingly protesting as they sought
a safe refuge. I thought to myself, "What a great setting for an Alfred
Hitchcock movie! All we need now is a body." That body was just on
the other side of the front door. I entered, and as I was taking off my
drenched raincoat I saw a group of people dressed in black mourning clothes
on one side of the room. A group of young women dressed in ordinary clothes
were standing around the open casket, talking to each other, as if the body
of the middle-aged women laid peacefully inside wasn't even there.
After I hung up my coat, my old Aunt Mary, a black scarf over her head,
came up and kissed me and said, "Ronnie, can't you do something about
those young women by the casket, talking and laughing together? They have
no respect for the dead." I said quietly, "Aunt Mary, the casket
contains only the body of my mother. These women know she is now alive and
in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are rejoicing over the life
my mother had on this earth and the fact that so many came to know Jesus
as Lord under her ministry at Franklin Marshal College." My Aunt Mary,
dressed in her black religious garb, did not understand the mystery of life
and death. She lived life on a physical plane, and was never able to see
into the spiritual realm. She looked at me with her empty eyes and went
back and sat down with all the other shadowy figures draped in black.
For most people, life, sickness and death remain a mystery, and the mystery
becomes even greater if we seek answers from within ourselves or even from
others because we can be greatly disappointed with what we hear. It is only
as we turn the eyes of our hearts towards God will we be able to see beyond
the immediate painful circumstances to a new spiritual level. There we will
find that God allows all of our sicknesses and threats of physical death
to draw our hearts toward him for spiritual healing.
This truth is clearly seen in our study today taken from Luke 8:40-56. We
want to ask ourselves the question, "To whom do we turn in times of
sickness and death?"
I. A father turns to Jesus at a time of death, Luke 8:40-42
And as Jesus returned, the multitude welcomed Him, for they
had all been waiting for Him. And behold there came a man named Jairus,
and he was an official of the synagogue; and he fell at Jesus' feet, and
began to entreat Him to come to his house; for he had an only daughter,
about twelve years old, and she was dying. But as He went, the multitudes
were pressing against Him.
The Lord and his disciples had returned to their boats following the casting
out of the evil spirits from the Gerasene demoniac. As they began to row
away from the beaches of Gerasenes towards the northeastern shores of Capernaum
they could see the crowd of frightened and superstitious Gentiles, standing
along the water's edge, breathing a sigh of relief at their departure. At
the same time they could also see the former demoniac once known as "Legion"
standing alone on the beach, fully clothed and in his right mind, waving
goodbye to his new Lord and Savior. His heart was now filled with the joy
of being possessed with the Holy Spirit, and he had been given a commission
to tell all in Decapolis of the great things God had done for him.
As our Lord and his disciples returned to the beaches of Capernaum, the
people who now were the recipients of his message of hope and his ministry
of healing welcomed him warmly. And many in the crowd who had heard of Jesus
because their family and friends had already been healed of some sickness
were hoping he would continue his healing and preaching ministry among them.
In the final analysis the hot baths of Tiberius, just a few miles down the
road, were of little help in healing the sick and dying. The Roman and Greek
doctors were also limited in their medical knowledge, while the mystery
religions offered few cures for the many illnesses prevalent in their society.
Based on almost two years worth of evidence, these people were hoping that
Jesus was the one to turn to in the midst of sickness and death. On this
particular day our Lord would be confronted with a father who was living
under the the stress of his only daughter's impending death, and an unnamed
Jewish woman who was a social outcast because of an incurable blood disease.These
two stories are also recorded by Matthew (9:18-26) and Mark (5:21-43), so
I will refer to their accounts whenever they give more details than Luke's
Jairus, a Jewish leader, was certainly no stranger to Jesus, for he was
an elder in the local synagogue in Capernaum. He had heard of or witnessed
the healing of the demoniac in his synagogue a year earlier. He had also
witnessed or heard of the life Jesus had brought to the dying son of the
royal official living in his home town (John 4: 46f). Jairus had also heard
about the healing of a dying servant of the Roman centurion (Luke 7:1-10).
I'm sure that as a Jewish ruler he had many discussions on the character
and ministry of Jesus with his fellow elders. He must have struggled with
the idea that this lawbreaker and accused blasphemer could be the Messiah,
and yet at the same time there was evidence that certain people who were
sick or dying turned to Jesus and were healed. I'm sure also that up and
until the time his one and only 12-year-old daughter's sickness unto death,
his discussions concerning Jesus were limited to a good evening of theological
But now Jairus' daughter was sick unto death. He received word that Jesus
had just landed on the beach of Capernaum, and that a large crowd had gathered
around him to welcome him back home, so he joined the crowds now rushing
toward the beach. At this point in his life, his official position as a
spiritual leader, his rank, stature, and reputation were of little matter
as he worked his way through the crowd until he came face to face with Jesus.
Then, in front of all the people who knew him, he fell at the feet of Jesus
and began to entreat him to come to his house, for his only daughter, who
was about 12 years old, was dying.
There is no more helpless feeling as a father than to know that one of your
children is sick unto death and you are powerless do anything about it.
A few years ago, I got a late-night phone call from a Christian friend,
a man whom people in the San Francisco community would describe as "having
it made." He was very successful in his business and had a good deal
of influence in the city. But on this evening he was calling to ask me for
prayer on behalf of his 15-year-old daughter who had been diagnosed as having
a severe brain tumor. The doctors were rushing her to the hospital that
evening, hoping that they could operate early the following morning and
save her life. He asked if I would join him and his wife at the hospital
the next morning. As I arrived at the hospital around 6 a.m., I met them
in the parking lot and we went into their daughter's room. The medical staff
had already cut off all her beautiful hair, and she was semi-conscious,
waiting for the drugs to take full control of her body. The three of us
laid our hands on her and in a state of total humility and hope, asked the
Lord Jesus if he would work through the medical team and restore this beautiful
young woman back to health.
To whom do we turn in a time of physical sickness and impending death? A
grieving father turned to Jesus on behalf of his dying daughter; and in
the midst of the crowd traveling to Jairus' home, a very sick woman sought
to get our Lord's attention.
II. A woman turns to Jesus in a time of sickness, 8:43,44
And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could
not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him, and touched the fringe of His
cloak; and immediately her hemorrhage stopped.
For 12 years (the same number of years Jairus' daughter had been on earth),
this woman had been suffering from a hemorrhage. This may have been a vaginal
hemorrhage, which would have resulted in her suffering social and religious
pressure. (According to Leviticus 15:19-22, her problem made her ceremonially
unclean.) She could not have any social contact and would not be allowed
to attend synagogue or temple service for at least 12 years. Adding to the
pressure of being a social outcast, she also had gone from one doctor to
another only to find that they took her money and were of no help to her
(Mark 5:26). As the years went by she grew weaker and the disease became
worse. Once word got to her that Jesus had returned to Capernaum she joined
the crowd with the hope that somehow he might heal her. I'm sure her heart
must have dropped as she overheard the conversation between the synagogue
official and Jesus, for the Lord immediately went with the official and
she never had a chance to even ask him if he would heal her. So her second
option was simply to reach out in faith, and hope that if perhaps she just
had a chance to touch him or his robe as he walked by in the crowd, that
would be enough to bring her healing.
On October 17, 1989, my wife, Anne Marie, and I drove to the city of Lourdes
in France to visit an elderly nun who had been a former teacher of my wife
in Rabat, Morocco. A few years earlier she had been transferred to the district
around Lourdes to work in a Catholic resthome on the edge of town. Lourdes
is located in the southwestern section of France, near the Pyrenees foothills.
It is famous as a shrine for Roman Catholic pilgrims, for it is believed
that here in 1858, the virgin Mary appeared to a peasant girl named Bernadette.
Catholics built a church near the grotto called the Rosary, and they also
erected a statue of the virgin at the grotto where the vision was said to
have occurred. Since those early days, year in and year out, bus loads of
sick, blind, crippled, deaf and dumb from all over the world pour through
the gates of the grounds towards the grotto, hoping that the virgin Mary
will heal them.
Year after year the same masses who came with hearts filled with hope that
the virgin would heal them returned to their buses in the same physical
condition in which they arrived. As we walked out the gates with them we
felt our hearts filled with compassion for they were like sheep without
a shepherd. Later that day we were having lunch with the nun and I asked
her if in her seven years at Lourdes had she ever witnessed or heard of
any physical healing? No! she answered. I asked her why did she think the
millions still continued to come to the grotto each year. She replied, "The
trip fills them with the hope of the Savior that their suffering has meaning
in the plans of God." I don't believe that is why most of these people
visit Lourdes, but the end result is the same truth the apostle Paul learned
in the midst of his suffering. Here is what he said to the Corinthians when
he realized why suffering was allowed to come upon him and his fellow workers:
it was "in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God
who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death and
will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope" (2 Cor. 1: 9-10)
To whom do you turn to in times of sickness and death? Jairus and this unknown
Jewish women turned to Jesus, the only one on earth who could make them
well or save them.
III. The woman's faith is rewarded with health, 8: 45-48
And Jesus said, "Who is the one who touched Me?" And
while they were all denying it, Peter said, "Master, the multitudes
are crowding and pressing upon You." But Jesus said, "Someone
did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me." And when
the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell
down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason
why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. And He
said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace."
The woman touched his garment (Mark 5: 30), And immediately Jesus, perceiving
in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around
in the crowd and said "Who touched My garment?" (Luke 8:45) "Who
is the one who touched Me? And while they were all denying it, Peter said,
"Master, the multitudes are crowding and pressing upon You. But Jesus
said "Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out
of Me." (Jesus was saying, "Who touched me with a meaningful touch,
hoping for a cure?").
What did Jesus mean when he said, "For I was aware that power had gone
out me"? Here we come face to face again with that great and wonderful
mystery of Jesus as both God and man. God was willing to put aside his powers
of deity, as Paul wrote to the Philippians, "Christ Jesus, who although
He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to
be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking a form of a bondservant and being
made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He
humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on
the cross" (Phil. 2: 5-8).
Earlier in his ministry Jesus had announced, "It is not those who are
well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call
righteous men but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5: 31-32). But we need
to keep in mind that our Lord ministered to the physical, emotional and
spiritual needs of these people only after he spoke to and was led by his
heavenly Father. His disciples already knew that 1) Jesus did nothing without
first checking in with his Father: "For I have come down from heaven,
not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me" (John 6: 38;
14:3, 17:4); 2) Jesus said nothing without first checking in with his Father:
"For I do not speak of my own initiative, but the Father himself who
sent me has given me commandment, what to say and what to speak" (John
123:49-50; 7:14-24); and 3) Jesus went nowhere without first checking in
with the Father: "And in the early morning, while it was still dark,
He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there.
And Simon and his companions hunted for Him; and they found Him, and said
to Him, 'Everyone is looking for You.' And He said to them, 'Let us go somewhere
else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that
is what I came out for.' And He went into their synagogues throughout all
Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons" (Mark 1:35-39).
Our heavenly Father chose to heal this woman of faith through his Son without
Jesus being aware of the healing until after it had happened. He knew healing
had occurred only because he felt the power leave him, resulting in a sense
of weakness. The apostle Paul explained this in another way when he came
to a fuller understanding of his ministry: "We have this treasure [our
risen Lord] in earthen vessels that the surpassing greatness of the power
may be of God and not from ourselves" (2 Cor. 4: 7). As our risen Lord
takes control of our lives he can use them to express his power of healing
physically, emotionally or spiritually at any time towards anyone without
asking our permission. But we will become aware somewhere in the process
that the power of God had flowed out from us towards those who are sick
and dying. In this present situation the healing power of the Father flowed
through the life of the Son to heal this sick woman.
"And He looked around to see the woman who had done this," says
Mark 5:32. When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came
trembling and fell down before him. She declared in the presence of all
the reason why she had touched him and how she had been immediately healed.
We can almost feel the tension in the crowd. Here our Lord is heading for
Jairus' home to raise his daughter from the dead, and suddenly he stops
and asks, "Who among all of you touched me in such a way that power
came out of me towards you and you were healed?" In his humanity he
did not know who it was, yet as he looked around the crowd his eyes caught
the eyes of the woman who had been healed. Then he knew-and she knew that
he knew-that it was her. The crowd pulled back a little so that she could
come forward and "she fell down before him" and publicly confessed
that she was the one, adding that she was healed.
Out of love and compassion with the heart of a Father, our Lord, I'm sure,
reached down to help her up and said, "Daughter, your faith has made
you well (has saved you), go in (into) peace." This woman had not placed
her faith in the garment of Jesus, for that would have turned this story
into one of superstition and the garment into a kind of magic robe. But
she had placed her faith in the person of Jesus as the Messiah and promised
Savior on the same evidence that Jairus had. Her faith in Jesus as the Father
of God the Savior became the channel through which the cure had been accomplished.
To whom do we turn in times of sickness and death? A grieving father and
a sickly women turned in faith to Jesus to save them physically and spiritually.
What were the results?
IV. The father's faith is rewarded with life, 8:49-56
While he was still speaking, someone came from the house of
the synagogue official, saying, "Your daughter has died; do not trouble
the Teacher anymore." but when Jesus heard this, He answered him, "Do
not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she shall be made well."
And when he had come to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with
Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl's father and mother.
Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, "Stop
weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep." And they began laughing
at Him, knowing that she had died. He, however, took her by the hand and
called, saying, "Child, arise!" And her spirit returned, and she
rose immediately; and He gave orders for something to be given her to eat.
And her parents were amazed; but He instructed them to tell no one what
As the woman was being encouraged by our Lord and the crowd was looking
on in amazement, someone from Jairus' home arrived and announced to him,
"Your daughter has died, do not trouble the Teacher anymore."
Despite the fact that Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit had raised the
dead daughter of the royal official, and raised the dying servant of the
centurion, and had just healed the woman, they still came with the bad news,
"Your daughter has died." There's no hope, it's over, that's it,
go home. As Jesus heard them say this, he looked at the eyes of the father.
He saw the difference between the way they had been so filled with hope
as he heard the woman confess her healing, a hope that if Jesus could heal
this unknown woman with a 12-year disease, certainly he could raise his
dying 12-year-old daughter from her death bed. But now comes this terrible
news that his daughter who was dying when he left her to find Jesus was
now dead. The professional mourners had already arrived and began their
cry of despair.
Our text continues, "But when Jesus heard this He answered him, 'Do
not be afraid any longer, only believe (keep believing) and she shall be
made well (saved)." Faith in Jesus is the answer to the fear of life
and the fear of death. Together with Jairus and the four disciples, our
Lord arrived at the home and asked the unbelieving mourners to leave them
alone with the girl, saying, "Stop weeping for she has not died but,
she is asleep." To the believer, death is like going to sleep. The
critics would say that the girl was not really dead but had lapsed into
a coma and about the time Jesus arrived she was coming out of it. But we
must remember that the family who saw death all the time, knew she had stopped
breathing and they had declared her dead; they sent for the professional
mourners for they knew she was dead; and the Lord knew she was physically
dead because after he raised her her spirit returned.
Then, based on the faith of Jairus, our Lord called out, "Child, arise!"
Jesus would later say at Lazarus' grave, "Lazarus, come forth"
(John 11:43). Her spirit returned, she arose immediately, and he gave orders
for something to be given to her to eat. Her parents were amazed, but he
instructed them to tell no one what had happened. It appears that the Lord
had become aware that the antagonism of the Pharisees was building up more
intensely and he wanted to continue ministering in Galilee as long as possible.
But, human nature being what it is, it was almost impossible to keep this
event a secret.
In his book The Servant Who Rules, Ray C. Stedman wrote,
Why did Jesus heal the woman and raise the child? He did so
to give a new view of sickness and death, one different from the world's
view. Believing this present life is all there is, the world wants it all
now, but the Christian can stand at the crib of a dying child and ask God
to heal him. Then, believing that God can heal him, if the child dies we
still believe that our God did heal him totally by bringing him into the
eternal presence of the Lord. This life isn't all there is.
At the hospital in San Francisco that morning, after we had prayed for the
daughter of my friends, we watched the medical staff take the young woman
into the operating room. We returned to the waiting room, our hearts filled
with confidence that our risen Lord was present and had heard our prayer
of faith. Now he wanted us to rest in him regardless of the outcome. In
this case the Lord brought physical healing to his spiritual daughter, and
we were notified several hours later that the operation was a success. I
have visited that family many times since those difficult days. Each time
I look at their daughter who is now 21, and in the full bloom of youth and
beauty, and I remember the grace of God who gave her life back on earth
that one cold day in a San Francisco hospital.
To whom do we turn in times of sickness and death? A grieving father turned
in faith to Jesus and his daughter was raised from the dead. A sickly woman
turned in faith to Jesus and was healed immediately by the Great Physician.
But in time, the daughter would die again, and in time the woman would die.
So these physical healings were designed by God to give each and every one
of us the hope that as Jesus was willing to reach out to those who placed
their faith in him as Lord and Savior, bringing physical healing, so he
is willing to reach out to all who place their faith in him as Lord and
Savior and offer spiritual healing to a sin-sick world. Peter would later
summarize our Lord's ministry before the Jewish Supreme Court when he said,
by the Spirit,
"There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other
name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved
(made well)" Acts 4:12.
Catalog No. 4140
Ron R. Ritchie
August 19, 1990
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