The Girl is Asleep: Salvation in Luke 8

Until this morning, in my reading of Luke 8:40-56 I’d focused on Jesus’s two miracles in isolation. I’ve written already, for example, about the symbolic meaning of the colours in Jesus’s healing of the woman with the flow of blood.

And in the story of Jairus’s daughter, I have previously reflected on striking parallels between Jesus’s words “Talitha!” [Child, arise!] and the Levite’s cold command to his concubine, who lies on the doorstep after men rape her all night, in Judges 19. “Get up and let us go.”

But this morning, it struck me that these two stories in Luke (also in Matt 9 and Mark 5), must be taken together, for they contain the gospel in its entirety.

First in this stretch of text, we meet Jesus long expected, a retelling of his glorious incarnation after a long period of waiting. Here Luke gives us again Jesus’s first coming.

Now as Jesus returned, the people welcomed Him, for they had all been waiting for Him.

Luke 8:40

Next we meet Jairus, which means “God enlightens.” This man, an official of the synagogue, begs for Jesus to come to his house and heal his only daughter, a girl only 12 years old, who lays dying.

Yet Jesus has other work to do first, and in the next few verses, Luke anticipates the cross. The curse of our sin, represented in a woman’s flow of blood for the same 12 years, meets the holy blue of the fringe on Jesus’s outer garment. In this encounter, Jesus honors the gift of faith the Spirit has prompted in this unnamed woman’s heart, the persistence of this woman of Israel, pursuing her Saviour.

And having given her new life and peace, Jesus turns to the now dead daughter of Jairus, who waits in agony for Jesus. His second coming in this stretch of text.

Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she will be made well.

v. 50

In texts as rich as these, we must slow down, pay close attention to every detail. For as Jesus comes to Jairus’s house, the text says that he turns out everyone except for a few (v. 51), evoking his parable of gathering the wheat into the barn and casting the tares to the wind (Matt. 13:24-30). These he cast out would also mock him, as he proclaimed his power over death.

52 Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep.” 
53 And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died.

Luke 8

But see here how gentle Jesus’s victory over death is for his people. How kindly he takes the girl by the hand and calls for her, our High Priest repairing the violation of another priest before him (Judges 19:27-30).

Now resurrected, her body and spirit reunited, the text even records for us heaven’s banquet (see also Mt 25:10). The wedding feast of the lamb.

She got up immediately; and He gave orders for something to be given her to eat.

Luke 8:55
Photo by Rachel Claire on

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