The Compassionate Christ (Part One)

Luke 8:40-56

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (8:48 ESV).

The Lord Jesus is always the same, but the human soul varies. Some people want nothing to do with Christ. Others, whose hearts have been touched by God’s grace, long to be with him. Those who look to Christ find him to be most gracious and kind. But even among those who have received grace, well sadly, our faith fluctuates.

There is an obvious difference between this section and the previous. Before we saw Jesus rejected by a whole town, except for one man. Here, people are thronging to see and to hear Jesus. There, a man is healed; here, two females experience the miraculous power of the Lord Jesus. The Gerasene people had asked Jesus to leave, but in this account, Jairus asks Jesus to come to his house. We may learn something from this. Though Jesus had been rejected, he went about his work. He did what God called him to do. So must we. Are there some people who won’t listen as you share the gospel? Well, it happened to the Lord, too. Move on to the next one. Keep doing what you ought to do.

Jesus did not allow rejection hinder him from showing compassion. He is God and loves to do what is good and to show kindness. The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love. The Lord is good to everyone; his compassion rests on all he has made (Psalm 145:8-9 CSB).

Previously, we saw the power of Christ. Now in addition to his power, let us consider the compassion of Christ. The Gospel writers link the two miracles in this section. In one he had compassion on the socially influential, and in the other on a social outcast. The compassion of Christ knows no favoritism. In one to a girl, in the other a woman. The girl was near the end of her brief life; the woman had lived in misery for twelve years.

First, Jesus acted in spite of difficulty. Many sought Christ’s attention. Many of them were not interested in his message, but sought miracles. Soon crowds of people surround him. We have a scene similar to others in the Gospels. Compare Mark 2:2 or Luke 5:1-3. Travel in such a crowd would become quite difficult, especially when you consider the narrowness of ancient streets. The word Luke chooses (sunepnigon) is used earlier is the chapter (8:7) and means to “choke, crowd around or crush”.

Two significant events occur at this point. Jairus, a synagogue ruler and thus well-known and influential, asked Jesus to heal his twelve-year-old daughter. The girl’s need was desperate; she was dying. Jesus agreed and was on his way, when an unnamed woman sought healing for herself. She suffered from a condition that not only made her miserable for twelve years, but also made her unclean under old covenant law. This woman touched Christ’s clothing and was healed. “The edge of his cloak” may mean “the tassel on his robe” (Numbers 15:38; Deuteronomy 22:12). The corner of the cloak was worn tossed over the left shoulder. In this way, the tassel would hang down the back. This could be easily touched in a crowd.

When this touch occurred, power went out from Christ and healed her (8:46). Some may wonder about the KJV translation of “virtue”. At the time of its translation, virtue had the meaning of “power”, so it was a good translation. In our time, the meaning of the word virtue has changed, and this makes the KJV translation misleading to the modern reader. This is one reason that you ought to use a modern speech translation. If you still want to read the KJV, you are free to do so. But I strongly urge you to compare its translations against those of good modern translations, such as the NASV, the NIV, the CSV and the ESV. Please do not make the KJV the basis for your beliefs and opinions. Our language, not God’s word, has changed much in over four hundred years.

Now back to the text. The Lord Jesus Christ turned interruptions into ministry opportunities. Parents, do you think this way when your children interrupt you? Teachers of God’s word, that question by a listener, though perhaps off track, might be important for the asker and the other listeners. Act wisely, and answer immediately or after the lesson.

Second, Jesus made public the woman’s healing. It might appear that this was somewhat insensitive on Jesus’ part. He knew she was healed. Couldn’t he allow this to remain her private matter? Actually, his course of action reveals his compassion for her.

This would correct in her mind any wrong ideas she may have held about the reasons for her healing. It was her faith and not a superstitious touch.

  • The way of healing was not in the touch. To this day, people believe this. For you hear people talking about “a point of contact”. The only “point of contact” required is a submissive faith in the Lord.
  • The way of healing was not in her faith but in Christ’s power. Jesus plainly says that power went out from him. Her faith was not the healer; Jesus healed her.

This would restore her to a place in the community of Israel. Previously, to touch her meant ceremonial uncleanness (Leviticus 15:25-27). Now, she had a way to regain her place in the worshipping community (Leviticus 15:28-30). More than that, the Lord called her daughter. He welcomed her into the spiritual family of God. This is the only woman he addressed by that relational term in the New Testament Scriptures. She received a special blessing.

When the Lord has shown mercy and compassion to someone, so must we. The former outcast must be welcomed into the family of believers. Read 2 Corinthians 2:5-11. To whom do you need to show compassion? Who needs your acceptance and mercy? Who needs to know that you care?

Grace and peace,