Casting Out Fear
Scripture: Luke 8:40-56
Last week, we left Jesus on the banks of the Sea of Galilee returning back from a trip to the other side of the lake, where he saved a demon-possessed man. The people of that land were afraid and begged Jesus to leave, which He did. Luke chapter 8 beginning in verse 40:
40 Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him.
41 And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house,
42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.
As Jesus went, the people pressed around him.
43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone.
44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.
45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.”
47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.
48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
49 While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.”
50 But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.”
51 And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child.
52 And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.”
53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.”
55 And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat.
56 And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.
I want us to think of this passage almost like a split television screen, where you’ve got two football games on and you want to keep up with them both. Luke sandwiches these two stories together on purpose.
We need to imagine Jairus in the background nervous that Jesus is stopping to deal with someone else… We need to sense the fear of a man who is about to lose his only daughter.
Fear is really the theme of this chapter. The disciples afraid of the storm and the power of Jesus to calm the storm. The Gerasenes afraid of Jesus begging him to leave.
Fear is a powerful motivator. According to psychologists, it is the most powerful emotion in the human brain. If someone wakes you up in the middle of the night and tries to convince you to get out of bed and stay awake until morning, it’s going to take a lot of convincing.
But if someone wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you that your house is on fire, how quickly will you jump out of bed? Fear is a powerful emotion.
Jairus fell down at the feet of Jesus and begged him to heal his daughter, fearing for her life. When the woman realizes that Jesus knows what she has done, she becomes afraid and falls down at his feet.
In both cases, Jesus deals with the underlying fear by encouraging faith. But fear is difficult to deal with.
Have you ever tried talking someone out of being afraid? Is it easy to convince a person who has a fear of spiders to stop being afraid of spiders? Snakes? Heights? No, because fear isn’t always rational.
And what Jesus does about it here is supernatural. It’s an act of God.
God actually has to replace our fear with faith. And just like fear has an object, so does faith. We fear SOMETHING or SOMEONE. In the same way, faith is always in SOMETHING or SOMEONE. It has an object. What we need is for Jesus to redirect our attention away from the object of our fears to the object of faith – to God himself.
We’ve all seen movies where someone is in a dangerous place, like on the edge of a cliff, and they need to walk or jump to safety – and what does the hero always say? Don’t look down, look at me! It’s going to be alright.
That’s what Jesus is telling us – take your eyes off of sin and death for a moment, don’t be frightened by this world anymore, look at me. Specifically, look at the cross, because that is where God made the exchange of fear and faith possible. Just as Jesus took the disease away from this woman, the death away from this girl, and replaced it with health, He took our sin and replaced it with His righteousness.
It is important to understand that this woman who reaches out to touch the corner of Jesus’ robe is not putting her faith in some kind of magic prayer cloth. She is trusting what the Jews understood to be the coming of the Messiah.
This is actually a fulfillment of Messianic prophecy in Malachi where it says, “The Son of Righteousness will come with healing in his wings.” The word wings is similar to the word fringes. Her faith is in that promise. She is trusting in Jesus and he replaces her fears with confidence.
What are you afraid of? What has most of your attention? What do you obsess about every day? What is it you don’t feel like you can live without? What would hurt the most if you lost it?
What if you started asking Jesus to replace those fears with faith? What would your life begin to look like?
I also want us to notice, both of these stories are about people who were forced to deal with their faith publicly.
It was a big deal for Jairus to ask Jesus for help. As a religious leader, he was being watched. Jesus was not popular among the religious leaders. Going to Jesus would have threatened Jairus’ position as synagogue leader.
But he throws himself on the ground at Jesus’ feet, which is not a dignified position for an important Jewish man! He is down in the dirt begging Jesus to help in front of a crowd of people!
Why? Because his love for his daughter is obviously more important to him than his job. This is convicting to me as a husband and a father. Men, do we have that kind of love for our families? If we believe that Jesus is our only hope and the only hope for our families, wouldn’t that motivate us to take every opportunity to get them to Jesus?
Are we more afraid that our children won’t be good at a sport or an instrument or that they won’t be successful? Or are we more concerned for their souls?
The woman who touches Jesus is actually trying to stay unnoticed. She was hoping for a secret healing. She did not want to draw attention to herself. But Jesus stops and calls her out in front of the crowd. And she is scared! She is trembling with fear!
Jesus forces her to admit an embarrassing problem in front of a crowd. He doesn’t do it to shame her. Instead, he does it to strengthen her faith and release her from the shame of her condition. Everyone knew she had a problem, but now everyone knows she is healed! And God gets all the glory for it.
Our faith is not meant to be a secret between us and God. Jesus has every intention of broadcasting the faith of His disciples to the world. The idea here is NOT “look how much better I am than you because I am a Christian…” NO! Instead, Jesus exposes our weaknesses to other people and his power to do something with it.
There’s one last thing I want us to consider… and this is where we really see the heart of God.
I think this is actually the most important reason why the Bible puts these two stories together. Jesus stops and makes Jairus wait on Him.
Jairus’ daughter is 12 years old, almost old enough to be married in that culture but not quite (crazy, I know). This is an important detail because it means she is still a virgin and probably not having “women’s issues” yet. Stay with me… how long had the older woman been dealing with her bleeding? 12 years. That is not a coincidence.
The entire time that Jairus’ daughter has been growing up happy and healthy (until now), this woman has been an outcast. She wasn’t just sick. She was ceremonially unclean, which meant that she was not welcome in synagogue. Guess whose responsibility it would have been to make sure she stayed away? Jairus, the synagogue leader…
Jesus is not stopping to help a random woman. He is stopping to help a woman that Jairus knew. Now, we don’t know what Jairus is thinking in this moment. But the application is clear: If he wants Jesus to heal his own daughter, then as a leader in the church he also needs to have compassion on this woman.
But if we are honest, we are tempted to compare the two, and I think Luke wants us to do that. It is easy to look at the precious, innocent young girl and the urgency of the situation and we want Jesus to hurry up too! I wouldn’t blame a father for being impatient. It would be easy to say that his daughter needs it more right now. The other woman has been waiting 12 years. Can’t she wait another half an hour Jesus?
But we underestimate how much dirty people matter to Jesus. I’m using that phrase only to make a point, because to God we are all the same. All broken, all dirty, all helpless. No human soul is of more or less value than another human soul. It is our broken world that compares people and devalues people.
But Jesus is teaching his disciples to have compassion on the least and the lonely.
I have had many people over the years tell me that they are afraid to come to church because of who they are and what they have done. They are afraid people will find out. They are afraid they will be judged. They are afraid we will reject them. I think many of them desperately want what they have heard about Jesus, but they are scared of being known. You can see that in this woman that He heals.
Just as Jesus loved this woman, people outside the church need us to love them back not his presence. They need us to stop and notice them. They need us to lift up their heads and offer them peace and acceptance. They need us to meet them in their fears and love them well.
1 John 4:18 – “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
I don’t really have perfect love to offer anyone, but I follow someone who does. And He invites you to follow Him too. He invites you into His church family. This church doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to Jesus. And if you feel Him calling you out of your fears to trust Him and follow Him, then you belong here, and I don’t care what kind of person you were or what kind of person you are. You matter to Him.
We are messy people too and so we will disappoint you at times. But we are all connected to someone who will not disappoint you. We are one in Christ.