After an interesting discussion our Monday night Bible Study this week, I was asked to do my homework! I considered this a worthwhile task since the question under consideration was rather important. As we have been working through Luke 4-9, there have been many important themes. One key theme has been ‘faith’.
In the section of Luke 8,19-56, Luke uses a series of stories to speak to the themes of ‘the Lost’, faith and the authority of Jesus. As we discussed during our study, Luke describes the Lost as people who are in some way ‘dead’ and without hope: the disciples who think they’ll drown in the storm, a demon-possessed man who is out of control and living amongst the tombs, a woman who has been continuously bleeding (her life-blood draining away?), and a sick child on the verge of death. In these stories we see that Jesus calls on people to have confidence in him and he commends those who acknowledge his ability to save. On the other hand, those who do not know Jesus and so cannot trust him, respond in fear. And through these stories, Jesus is shown to have authority over nature, demons, disease and even death. And as Luke has shown numerous times throughout his Gospel, it only requires one word for him to exercise his authority and bring things under his control.
So how does the story about Jair and his daughter help develop Luke’s point concerning faith? In our discussion, I suggested that Jair responds to Jesus in fear. However I realise I was in the minority there, if not the only person thinking this. We briefly read Matthew’s account which confirmed many people’s thoughts about the events, who is being addressed in speech, and Jair’s faith. Consequently I’ve gone back to the text to do my homework, to again consider what Luke is teaching about faith.
There are probably several assumptions worth considering before we approach the text. The key concept which I don’t think I managed to communicate clearly was that Luke has used this story in an edited form for his own purposes. We do not know if Teofil had access to Mark, Matthew, or even John’s Gospels. So my assumption in approaching this passage is to consider what Luke is saying, in this broader context of the Lost, faith and understanding Jesus.
So let us again consider this text to see how the story works. Since we started comparing the other accounts of these incidents in the other two Gospels, I have laid out these stories side by side. This will help show us how Luke is using this story, purposefully editing it for his own purposes.
Po Marku 5,21-43
Po Luku 8,40-56
Po Mateju 9,18-26
21 Ko se je Jezus prepeljal s čolnom spet na drugo stran, se je zbrala pri njem velika množica. Bil je pri jezeru. 22 Tedaj je prišel eden od predstojnikov shodnice, Jaír po imenu. Ko ga je zagledal, je padel k njegovim nogam 23 in ga zelo prosil, rekoč: »Z mojo hčerko je zelo hudo. Pridi in položi roke nanjo, da ozdravi in ostane pri življenju!« 24 In odšel je z njim.
40 Ko se je Jezus vrnil, ga je sprejela množica, kajti vsi so ga pričakovali. 41 Tedaj je prišel mož, ki mu je bilo ime Jaír; bil je načelnik shodnice. Padel je k Jezusovim nogam in ga prosil, da bi prišel v njegovo hišo. 42 Imel je namreč edino hčer, staro okoli dvanajst let, in ta je umirala.
18 Medtem ko jim je to govoril, je prišel neki oblastnik. Poklonil se mu je do tal in rekel: »Moja hči je pravkar umrla, vendar pridi, položi roko nanjo in bo živela.« 19 Jezus je vstal in šel za njim, skupaj s svojimi učenci.
Za njim se je odpravila velika množica in pritiskala nanj. 25 V njej je bila tudi žena, ki je že dvanajst let krvavela. 26 Veliko je pretrpela od mnogih zdravnikov in porabila vse svoje premoženje, pa ji ni nič pomagalo, ampak je bilo z njo celo slabše. 27 Slišala je za Jezusa. Med množico se mu je približala od zadaj in se dotaknila njegove obleke. 28 Rekla je namreč: »Tudi če se dotaknem le njegove obleke, bom rešena.« 29 In v hipu se ji je ustavila kri in v telesu je začutila, da je ozdravljena nadloge. 30 Jezus je v sebi zaznal, da je šla moč iz njega. Takoj se je obrnil v množici in rekel: »Kdo se je dotaknil moje obleke?« 31 Njegovi učenci so mu govorili: »Saj vidiš, kako množica pritiska nate, pa praviš: ›Kdo se me je dotaknil?‹« 32 Oziral se je okrog, da bi videl tisto, ki je to storila. 33 Ker je žena vedela, kaj se je z njo zgodilo, je vsa preplašena trepetaje pristopila, se vrgla predenj in mu povedala vso resnico. 34 On pa ji je rekel: »Hči, tvoja vera te je rešila. Pojdi v miru in bodi ozdravljena svoje nadloge!«
Ko je Jezus šel tja, so se množice gnetle ob njem. 43 Neka žena, ki je že dvanajst let krvavela in potrošila za zdravnike vse, kar je imela za življenje, pa je nihče ni mogel ozdraviti, 44 se mu je približala od zadaj. Dotaknila se je roba njegove obleke in takoj nehala krvaveti. 45 Tedaj je Jezus rekel: »Kdo je tisti, ki se me je dotaknil?« Ker so vsi zanikali, je Peter dejal: »Učenik, množice se gnetejo ob tebi in te stiskajo.« 46 Jezus pa je rekel: »Nekdo se me je dotaknil. Opazil sem namreč, da je šla moč od mene.« 47 Ko je žena videla, da ni ostala skrita, je drhte pristopila. Vrgla se je predenj in vpričo vsega ljudstva povedala, zakaj se ga je dotaknila in kako je v trenutku ozdravela. 48 On pa ji je rekel: »Hči, tvoja vera te je rešila. Pojdi v miru!«
20 Tedaj se mu je od zadaj približala žena, ki je dvanajst let krvavela, in se je dotaknila roba njegove obleke. 21 Pri sebi je namreč rekla: »Če se le dotaknem njegove obleke, bom rešena.« 22 Jezus pa se je obrnil, jo pogledal in dejal: »Bodi pogumna, hči, tvoja vera te je rešila.« In žena je bila od tiste ure rešena.
Ko je še govoril, so prišli od predstojnikove hiše in rekli Jaíru: »Tvoja hči je umrla. Kaj še nadleguješ učitelja?«
49 Medtem ko je še govoril, je prišel nekdo od predstojnikovih in rekel: »Tvoja hči je umrla, ne nadleguj več učitelja.«
36 Jezus je slišal od strani, kaj so rekli, in je dejal predstojniku shodnice: »Ne boj se, samó veruj!«
50 Ko je Jezus to slišal, mu je odgovoril: »Ne boj se! Samo veruj in bo rešena.«
37 In nikomur ni dovolil, da bi šel z njim, razen Petru, Jakobu in Janezu, Jakobovemu bratu.
51 Stopil je v hišo in nikomur ni pustil, da bi šel z njim, razen Petru, Janezu in Jakobu ter očetu in materi deklice.
38 Ko so prišli pred predstojnikovo hišo, je videl vrvež in ljudi, ki so jokali in zelo žalovali.
52 Vsi so jokali in žalovali za njo.
23 Ko je Jezus prišel pred oblastnikovo hišo ter videl piskače in razburjeno množico,
39 Vstopil je in jim rekel: »Kaj se razburjate in jokate? Deklica ni umrla, ampak spi.«
On pa je rekel: »Ne jokajte, saj ni umrla, ampak spi!«
24 je govoril: »Umaknite se, saj deklica ni umrla, ampak spi.«
40 In posmehovali so se mu.
53 Posmehovali so se mu, ker so vedeli, da je umrla.
Oni pa so se mu posmehovali.
On pa je vse odslovil in vzel s seboj očeta in mater deklice ter tiste, ki so bili z njim, in stopil tja, kjer je bila deklica.
25 Ko so odstranili množico, je vstopil.
41 Deklico je prijel za roko
54 On pa jo je prijel za roko
Prijel jo je za roko
in ji rekel: »Talíta kum,« kar v prevodu pomeni:
»Deklica, rečem ti, vstani!«
in zaklical: »Deklica, vstani!«
42 Deklica je takoj vstala in hodila; imela je namreč dvanajst let.
55 In njen duh se je vrnil in takoj je vstala.
in je vstala.
Od začudenja so bili vsi iz sebe.
43 On pa jim je strogo naročil, naj tega nihče ne izve,
in je velel, naj ji dajo jesti.
Ukazal je, naj ji dajo jesti.
56 Njeni starši so bili čisto iz sebe.
Naročil pa jim je, naj nikomur ne povedo, kaj se je zgodilo.
26 In glas o tem je šel po vsem tistem kraju.
When comparing the various Gospel accounts, it is widely accepted that Mark’s Gospel is the earliest written. Both Matthew and Luke use Mark’s stories in either an expanded or contracted form. Matthew and Luke draw on other different events as well.
As we look at the passages above, we observe that Matthew’s version of this story is very brief. In fact, Matthew takes these events and places them in a very different historical and theological context, that is Mt 9,1-17 is placed between the healing of the demon possessed man and these events concerning Jair. Luke had used these stories as well, but you’ll find them back in Luke 5. As Matthew tells us, Jesus has not crossed the lake, but rather he is speaking to John the Baptist’s disciples. Matthew placed these events in the middle of a collection of stories which highlight the opposition Jesus is facing. Furthermore, the story starts by stating the girl has already died. Consequently, if we would consider the key theme of Pharisaic opposition in Matthew’s account of the story, we might want to highlight the fact that Jesus touched an unclean woman and a dead girl, because such actions display Jesus’ concern for sinners and unclean, and the radical movement away from Pharisaic oppression. In Luke’s account, we might consider such contact as a point to show that Jesus makes no distinction between who he aids, whether they are clean or unclean, Gentile or Jewish, and so on.
Does Matthew’s version of these events help us understand Jair’s faith? The interruption by the bleeding woman does not really act to delay or create more tension for Jair, since it is already acknowledged that the girl has died. Yet Matthew certainly confirms that there is a crowd present at the house and it is the crowd who laughs at Jesus’ suggestion that she is only sleeping. Therefore, while we can see that Matthew is drawing on the same story, he is using it in a different manner to Luke and so in its context I would suggest that Matthew is making some different points. Therefore, if we take Matthew’s points and compare them to Luke’s narrative, we might start imposing something on Luke’s text which he does not intend.
If we compare Mark and Luke’s account we see they are very similar in length. Certainly Luke has changed numerous details around to serve his own purposes. For example, Luke takes the information about the girl’s age (highlighted in green above), which appears late in Mark’s account (5,42), and places it at the very start of his story (Lk 8,42). This serves to create a more emotional response because such details highlight Jair’s plight.
Likewise, the interruption by the bleeding woman’s story serves to create additional emotional tension, because in Mark and Luke’s accounts there appears to be some hope that Jesus can heal the girl before she dies. The interruption works as a delay in the story, because by the time the bleeding woman is dealt with, the girl has actually died. Yet the interruption also aims to teach us about the key theme of faith, that is, trusting that Jesus has both the authority and ability to rescue people. While I think we can legitimately doubt the authenticity of a leader of the synagogue (because almost all Jewish leaders have rejected Jesus so far In Luke’s Gospel), Jair certainly comes to Jesus in a manner which displays his extreme desire to receive Jesus’ help (Lk 8.41). So in some sense we can say he knows and believes that Jesus can heal his daughter. Consequently, when Jesus and Jair hear the bad news about the death of the daughter, the question arises whether Jair still trusts that Jesus is able to help. This tension is identified by Jesus when he tells Jair not to fear, which we have seen in Luke as being the opposite of faith.
At this point of the story, we start to note a few differences between Luke and Mark’s accounts. Mark continues to be more specific in details, particularly who is being addressed when speaking and who is responding. For example, Mark tell us that Jesus told ‘the leader of the synagogue’, that is Jair, not to fear but believe (5,36), whereas Luke only identifies the person as ‘him’ (8,50). This could in fact be the person from the leader’s home (8,49), since he is the only person mentioned in the immediate context. Yet it seems best in the larger context of this story to assume it is Jair. The fact that Luke is less specific means we really need to consider who the contexts and circumstances of the action, before we attribute the various pronouns to people.
Another difference in these stories is the details regarding Jesus’ movement. Once news has arrived of the daughter’s death (Mk 5,35-36; Lk 8,49-50), Jesus leaves to go to Jair’s house. However Mark records here that he only takes a few disciples with him and then they come to the entrance of the house where there is a crowd (5,37-38). At that point Jesus addresses the crowd, who laughs at Jesus’ comment that the girl is just asleep (5,39-40). The next movement is inside the house where he then raises the girl (and Mark notes the Aramaic words Jesus uses, but Luke doesn’t record).
Luke on the other hand, records the details differently (see highlights in red above). Jesus comes to the house, and then he only gives permission for a few specific disciples (the same disciples who will be chosen to see Jesus transfigured in Lk 9) and the parents to enter with him. Consequently, we assume Luke is then recording details of events inside the house now, whereas Mark specifically addressed the crowd outside the house before entering with the selected disciples and parents. There is no mention of any movement after Jesus’ comment that the girl is sleeping (8,53). Rather Luke goes directly to the proof of Jesus’ comment by taking the girl’s hand and raising her (8,54). My assumption here is that Jesus is immediately showing all those in the room with him that this girl is just sleeping.
So who is the ‘everyone’ crying and then laughing at Jesus’ comments in Luke’s Gospel (Lk 8,52-53)? Since Luke is less specific in identifying people and he is very selective in noting such movement details (that is, who has entered the house), we would assume it is the disciples and her parents who have reacted in tears and laughter. It actually seems that Luke has deliberately removed most references to the crowd. As I read Darrel Bock’s commentary on these verses again, it actually surprises me that Bock says that it is the crowd who laughs. He has assumed, probably by correlating the story with Mark’s account, that there are mourners around the girl. This might well be a correct assumption, but Luke has removed such details about the crowd on purpose. Consequently I did not read this story in Luke’s account assuming there was a crowd already in the house.
Therefore, from a study of Luke’s details as he has chosen to use, and not trying to justify a direct correlation between Mark and Luke’s account, I would say that Luke is telling us that it is the disciples and the parents who respond to Jesus’ comments with laughter. Jair no longer expects Jesus to be able to heal his daughter. Actually, he does not expect that Jesus can raise the dead. Certainly, it is the crowds that make this assumption in Mark’s Gospel, but they are never considered like this in Luke’s Gospel. The disciples and the parents are not praised for their faith like the Centurion (Lk 7,9) and the bleeding woman (8,48). Rather, they witness the miraculous events of the resurrection of the dead girl.
In my mind this highlights the miraculous nature of Jesus’ healing. We see from the bleeding woman that people knew Jesus well enough to accept that he had the authority to heal. Yet his claim that the girl is merely sleeping is met with scepticism (like a seed strangled by weeds?). They could not accept that Jesus had authority of death, even though the disciples had already witnessed this in Nain (Lk 7,11-17). It is not surprising that the disciples are again confused at the Transfiguration (Lk 9,33), even though Jesus has specifically spoken about his identity (9,18-20), his death and resurrection (9,21-22), and the life of faith in the Suffering Servant-King (9,23-27). As I trust we all agree, Luke is telling us that we need to trust Jesus completely, especially because we are all facing death.