Our Life in Christ

Our Life In Christ 

Christ’s Double Miracle – November 7, 2021

by Fr. Jonathan Cholcher

Sunday, November 7, 2021, is the twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, also the seventh Sunday of the Gospel of Luke, meaning the Gospel reading is Luke 8:41-56, the double miracle of the healing of the woman with a flow of blood, and the raising of Jairus’ daughter.  I call this a double miracle because these events occur in an integrated way.  The story begins with Jairus summoning Jesus to heal his dying daughter, but Jesus is delayed going to Jairus’ home for the healing of the woman with the flow of blood; however, when Jesus arrives at Jairus’ home, the girl has died, but Jesus raises her from the dead.

A detail in the account shows how these miracles are integrated into one double miracle.  Jairus’ “only daughter” was “about 12 years of age,” and the woman had “a flow of blood for 12 years.”  This is no coincidence.  These two completely different persons had a common problem shared simultaneously: mortality and death.  And it is precisely this universal condition that Christ presented Himself to both to overcome.

Throughout the duration of the young girl’s life, this other woman suffered from a “flow of blood,” and she “had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any” (Lk. 8:43).  Importantly in Israel, her chronic physical affliction also involved spiritual affliction.  A woman with a discharge of blood, other than menstruation, was considered “unclean” during the entire time of the discharge, and whomever and whatever she touched was considered “unclean” requiring purification by washing, and for the woman by sacrifice.  In such a state of “uncleanness,” this woman was prohibited from approaching God’s holy place and holy things under penalty of death (see Lev. 15:25-33).

In such a grave, chronic condition beyond medical hope, the woman made her way through the crowds thronging Jesus to touch “the border (the fringe) of His garment.  And immediately her flow of blood stopped” (Lk. 8:44).  Jesus asked, “Who touched Me?”  Peter pointed out the obvious: “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’  But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me” (Lk. 8:44-46).

Her action having been revealed, the woman declared before all what she did including why she touched Jesus’ garment.  Rather than ridicule or legalistically criticize the woman – “Don’t you know you’re unclean, and now you’ve made my clothes unclean, and everyone you’ve touched coming through the crowd is unclean!” – Jesus responds as the merciful and loving Savior from affliction, uncleanness, and death: “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well [Gk., ‘has saved you’].  Go in peace” (Lk. 8:47).

Our Lord knew what had happened and could have remained quiet about it just as silently as the woman had drawn near and touched Him.  Yet our Lord publicizes the event to reveal important truths:

  • Physical touch is inferior to spiritual touch, that is, the connection with Christ through faith in Him; and the spiritual realm is “touchable” in Christ who is both God and man, not only by direct contact with His body, but also by contact with just the fringe of His garment.  Spiritually understood, the border of Christ’s garment are all the persons and things with which the Body of Christ is clothed (e.g., Liturgy, mysteries [i.e., sacraments], saints, relics, icons, etc.).  Through faith, the power of Christ to save is communicated through these things.
  • Our chronic physical problems have a spiritual basis and dimension.  Reaching the limits of physical resources and medical remedies only reminds us not to lose hope, but to seek the greater healing in Christ who restores us to ultimate health in the Kingdom of God.  This applies especially to the issue of death of which all physical ailments are but symptoms.

Meanwhile, Jairus’ twelve year-old daughter was at home “dying” (literally, in the process of dying; Lk. 8:42).  “While [Jesus] was still speaking” – telling the woman to go in peace, etc. – “someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, ‘Your daughter is dead.  Do not trouble the Teacher.’  But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well” (Gk., ‘she will be saved’; Lk. 8:49-50).  Jesus clearly indicated that death was a spiritual sickness He could cure, just like He cured the woman of the flow of blood.  Also the action has moved out of the crowd into the house of the ruler of the synagogue, the home of Judaism, so to speak, and Christ permits only the parents of the girl and His three apostles, Peter, James, and John to witness what He will do.
Here again especially Christ reveals essential truths:

  • Faith in Christ brings salvation even from death. (Lk. 8:50)
  • What Christ does is not a worldly spectacle, but a mystery of faith.  When Jesus said that the girl was “not dead, but sleeping” (Lk. 8:52), the majority ridiculed Him as misrepresenting the finality of death.  Only by witnessing His own death and resurrection did Jesus’ disciples fully understand and believe the power of what they began to see with the raising of this girl.  As after the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, Jesus “charged them to tell no one what had happened” (Lk. 8:56; 9:36; cf. Matt. 17:9).
  • The unmistakable power of Christ over death brings comfort and hope.  As with Lazarus (Jn. 11:6, 11), Jesus did not come to the girl until she had already died in the body.  Jesus said despite our natural fear and grief when confronting death, “Do not be afraid…Do not weep (lit., ‘do not keep on weeping’)” (Lk. 8:50, 52).  The Lord demonstrated that bodily death is no more than sleep from which we shall be wakened, just as He “took her by the hand and called, saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’  Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately” (Lk. 8:54-55).

Young or old, anonymous or of social standing, we all face the common maladies of mortality, weakness, frailty, and death.  Christ Jesus has come among us to reveal God’s plan of life in His eternal Kingdom made possible through faith in Him.  Christ narrows our focus to the essentials of our existence.  Ultimately we hope not in the fading strength of this world, not even in the prime of life when we fool ourselves into thinking death isn’t possible yet, but we seek the power of Christ’s grace and mercy to save unto immortal life by the resurrection from the dead.  Thus we follow Christ and seek to touch Him as He communicates His power to save through all the things around Him in His Church, “which is His Body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22).