Luke 8 – You Still Only Die Twice

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Today’s PassageLuke 8

In yesterday’s chapter of Luke, we saw–among other things–a resurrection: Jesus raised a widow’s son from the dead. And while today’s chapter contains the Parable of the Sower, the Parable of the Lamp, a brief yet eventful boat trip, and the encounter with the Gerasene Demoniac, it concludes with another resurrection. A synagogue official named Jairus sends for Jesus, hoping he can heal the official’s fatally-ill daughter, but she dies while Jesus is en route. Distance and death are no deterrent to the Son of God, however; he continues to Jairus’ house and raises the girl back to life.

I can’t help noticing that the girl, like the deceased son from the previous chapter, is an only child. In Luke’s reports, Jesus doesn’t just raise individuals from the dead; he gives entire family lines a second lease on longevity. Each incident is as much a gift to the parents as to the resurrected child, and in this respect, it follows the pattern seen when Elijah raises a widow’s son (1 Kings 17:17-24). The text gives no indication whether the formerly-deceased went on to marry and have children, but on a certain level, it’s immaterial. Even before his own sacrifice on the cross and subsequent resurrection, Jesus is reversing death. He’s telling sin, injustice, and pain, “Take your garbage and get out of here.”

After the last resurrection–a public affair, which involves the dead son sitting up in the coffin at his own funeral procession–Jesus seems determined to keep this next miracle on the down-low. He doesn’t allow anyone but the girl’s father and mother, plus three of his disciples, to enter the room where the girl’s body is. He insists that she’s asleep, inviting the ridicule of all five spectators. And when he does raise her from the dead, as Luke relates, “Her parents were amazed; but He instructed them to tell no one what had happened” (56). All three of the synoptic authors managed to uncover the story (cf. Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43), though it makes sense that Luke, with his commitment to digging deep for the testimony of eyewitnesses, would have a more in-depth account than Matthew.

There’s also an interruption. While Jesus is en route to Jairus’ house, before the girl dies, an old woman detains him to seek healing for her twelve-year hemorrhage. But that’s a story for another time.

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