Lesson for March 15, 2020: An End to Mourning (Luke 8:40-56)
Lesson for March 15, 2020: An End to Mourning (Luke 8:40-56)

Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in issue no. 3 (weeks 9-12; March 1-22, 2020) of The Lookout magazine, and is also available online at www.lookoutmag.com.

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Lesson Aim: Allow hope in Jesus to temper your grief and suffering in this world.

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By Mark Scott

The Bible affirms that there is a place for mourning (Matthew 5:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). But the Bible also affirms that God desires to remove mourning (Isaiah 35:10; Revelation 21:4). In our text today mourning surrenders to hope. Christians are realists. They do not deny that there is grief and suffering in this world. But believers allow Jesus to breathe hope into the darkest times of life.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke have the stories at this juncture in the life of Christ all in the same chronology. There are three (actually four) miracles all in a row. Jesus calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee because he is Lord of creation (Luke 8:22-25). Next Jesus cast out a legion of demons from a man who lived in the Gerasenes because he is Lord of the spirit world (vv. 26-39). Finally Jesus healed two women because he is Lord over illness and death (vv. 40-56). Our text can be biographically partitioned.

A Desperate Dad | Luke 8:40-42a

When Jesus returned to the western side of the Sea of Galilee, most likely Capernaum, the crowd welcomed (received) him. While being welcomed back, a synagogue leader named Jairus (Yahweh enlightens) came to Jesus in great earnestness. He fell at Jesus’ feet and plead (the same Greek word used in the previous story of the demoniac, meaning “to beseech” or “to entreat”) with him to come to his house. His 12-year-old daughter was at the point of death (Matthew 9:18 portrays it as if she had already died). Perhaps she was at the point of death when Jairus left his home to fetch Jesus. At any rate she was way too young to die.

The interesting thing about this part of the story is the place and role of Jairus. He is the ruler of the synagogue. Typically, in the Gospel record, people who occupy this role are not favorable to Jesus. But when we are desperate, our theology and convictions are pressed hard. Whatever Jairus might have thought about Jesus initially was wrecked by virtue of his need.

A Needy Woman | Luke 8:42b-48

Scholars have wondered why the evangelists told the story the way they did. Perhaps it was because the woman “with the flow of blood” and the daughter of Jairus are both referred to as daughter. Perhaps it was because of the number 12, the years the woman had been ill and the age of the little girl. But it is entirely possible that the events happened in just this manner. Who hasn’t started out to do one thing only to be interrupted and compelled to do something else?

As Jesus pushed through the crowd that was crushing (suffocating or choking) him, a woman with a large need came up behind him with the goal of grasping his tassels. She wanted to touch Jesus and through her faith experience his healing power. As soon as she touched Jesus the bleeding stopped. What a glorious day this was for her. Her marginalized days were over. She could go home, worship at the temple (Leviticus 15:25-30), and just feel tons better.

But Jesus stopped. He could sense that power had gone out from him. The woman knew she had been noticed. She came with trembling and fear (a phrase used in the Old Testament for what one does when approaching deity). She confessed to touching Jesus and testified of her healing. In great tenderness, Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

A Resurrected Corpse | Luke 8:49-56

We are not told what Jairus thought of this interruption, but it did delay Jesus from getting to his home in time to heal his daughter. While Jesus was finishing up things with the needy woman, someone—with the people skills of a rock—came to Jairus and informed him that his daughter had died. More than one person has said, “Jesus is rarely early, but he is never late.” It is safe to assume that Jairus’s countenance was in the ditch. Jesus gave Jairus three phrases of hope, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed (saved).”

Since funerals followed quickly on the heels of death, by the time Jesus arrived at the home the visitation was in full swing. Professional mourners and flute players would have greeted Jesus. Jesus took three of his apostles and the girl’s parents and told the mourners to stop. Jesus used sleep as a New Testament euphemism for death. He knew what he would do. Jesus took her by the hand and commanded her to get up. The girl’s spirit returned. She stood up and ate some food (of course she did—she was almost a teenager). The parents were astonished and hope filled the room.

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Lesson study ©2019, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on the scope and sequence, ©2019 by Christian Standard Media. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

Image: Christ raises Jairus’s daughter; an 1866 engraving by Emily Sartain from a picture by Theodore Von Hoist. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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