Jesus is Lord Over Disease and Death (Luke 8:40-56)

Disease and death are horrible. To see someone debilitated as a result of chronic disease or someone grieving because of death ought to fill us with a deep sense of compassion. Disease and death are not pleasant topics. But disease and death are real and rampant. Both of these realities are in the world because of the curse. They are an intrusion as a result of sin and no amount of human effort is able to prevent the reality of these effects. But there is good news. There will be a time and place where there will be no more disease and no more death.  This will be in New Heaven and New Earth where Jesus Christ will reign as King forever. This brings me to the passage that I will consider in this message. In Luke 8:40-56 Jesus heals a woman who had a twelve-year disease and raises up from the dead a twelve-year-old girl.

This passage appears in a section that records a series of encounters that reveal that Jesus is Lord. His Lordship is seen over disaster (see my message ‘Jesus is Lord over Disaster’), demons (‘Jesus is Lord over Demons’), and in this passage it is also over disease, and death. The whole point is to show us that Jesus alone has power over the effects of the curse. Also, it provides us with a glimpse into what His future kingdom will be like. In this message we will take a look at two stories and end with two lessons.

1.       TWO STORIES

This passage records two lives that encountered Jesus and were dramatically impacted by it. There are a number of differences between these two stories. One is about a man named Jairus and the other is about an unnamed woman. Jairus was a public individual and involved in the religious life in Galilee, whereas the woman was a private individual and was excluded from the public religious life. Jairus’ need was for his twelve year old daughter who was dying; the woman’s need was for herself as she was haemorrhaging for twelve years.

Though there were differences between these two circumstances, they both shared something in common. They were powerless in their situation and they believed that Jesus had the power to solve it. They have both arrived at the place where they know that there is nowhere else to turn but to Jesus.

Another interesting feature of these two stories is that the second story interrupts the first story. After Jesus returns from the other side of the lake, a large crowd is waiting for Jesus. Among this crowd is Jairus and he is desperate. Falling on his knees at Jesus’ feet, he pleads with Him to come and heal his dying twelve-year old daughter. As Jesus begins to walk, the crowd presses against Him. In the midst of this crowd was the woman with the twelve-year haemorrhage who seeks to be healed privately. But I will address the matter of interruption later on.

The Woman with the Twelve-Year Old Disease

We don’t know this lady’s name, but she was experiencing a terrible trial.  For twelve years she had an issue of blood. This hardship she faced had physical and social consequences. Physically she would have been in pain and experienced poor health. Socially, she was excluded, as she would have been considered ceremony unclean. Luke tells us “she had spent all her living on physicians” (8:43) yet no one was able to help her. She has come to the point and place of desperation. Knowing that Jesus has arrived, she turns to Him. She deliberately and discreetly blends in with the crowd and believes that if she simply touches the tip of His garment, she will be healed. I am not sure of everything going through her head at this point. Yet this simple act of faith in Jesus results in instant healing (8:44).

What was intended on being private became public. Jesus asked, “Who was it that touched me?” Peter noted that crowds were pressing in on Jesus, so a whole bunch of people touched Him (8:45). Jesus then said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me (8:46). This statement of Jesus was not for His benefit, but it was to draw the woman out, and publically restore her to the social and spiritual life in the town. The woman realised that Jesus knew so she came to Him and fell down at His feet and publically testified of the power of Jesus in healing her. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace”. How did her faith make her well? The power of her faith was that it was directed toward Jesus. Sometimes we may feel that we have weak faith. But as Thomas Watson has said, “A weak faith can lay hold of a strong Christ”. This weak and wearied woman put her faith in the sovereign seeking Saviour. And there she found peace. Now what about Jairus and his daughter? It is to this urgent matter we return.

The Man with the Twelve-Year Old Daughter

While Jesus was speaking to the woman who has just been healed, a person from Jairus’ house came and said “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more” (Luke 8:49). These are devastating and crushing words. Jairus believed Jesus could heal his daughter and he even managed to get His attention despite the large crowd. Now after this brief interruption, it seems that it is now too late.

We often experience interruptions in life. Sometimes they seem to really mess things up for us! What looked like an interruption and a helpless situation from the human perspective was actually an illustration of the Lord’s sovereign control. After hearing this report, Jesus said to Jairus, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well” (8:50). This is the most repeated command of Jesus. In-fact, it is the most repeated command in the Bible. Jesus could say this because He is Lord over death. Jesus then enters the house only allowing Peter, James, John, and the parents of the girl. Present were a group of mourners. Jesus told them that she was not dead in the permanent sense, but that she was sleeping. This anticipates what He is about to do.

With authority Jesus issued the command, “Child, arise” (8:54). Instantly her spirit returned to her body and she arose! He asked for her to be given food and for them to tell no one of what happened. The reason for this was so that His Divine mission would not attract the wrong kind of attention.

Jairus approached Jesus with the public display of falling down. Then Jesus healed his daughter privately. The woman approached Jesus privately, then Jesus healed her publicly and she fell on her knees. These are two very different people with different circumstances. Yet both of them came to Jesus powerless. With the hand of faith they took hold of the strength of Christ and He provided what only He could, and that was healing.


What can we learn from these two powerful and touching stories? There are two lessons that I would like to conclude with. We learn about the powerlessness we have over the effects of sin and the power Christ has over the effects of sin.

The Powerlessness we have over the effects of Sin

We can have the best of educations, the best of health, a large amount of wealth, but these are powerless to prevent the effects of sin. Natural disasters can come upon us and we cannot prevent them. Diseases will still wreak havoc in our lives. And will all one day die. We can get by for a time, but we are powerless to reverse the effects of the curse. This passage teaches us that both the woman and Jairus had come to the point where they realised that they were powerless over their situation. Their background, reputation, social network, and wealth were unable to deliver them from their horrible situation.

The Power Christ has over the effects of Sin

Though the woman’s and the Jairus’ situation was helpless from their perspective, it wasn’t hopeless. They both looked to Jesus Christ and there they found the power to their problems. Because Jesus is Lord over disease and death, He was able to overcome the effects of sin. So it is with salvation. Salvation does not depend on our power, but rather it fully depends on the power of Jesus Christ. Left to ourselves we cannot save ourselves. We are sinners. We are in need of power outside of us to provide a spiritual resurrection. We are in need of a perfect substitute. We are in need of full and complete forgiveness. The good news of this passage is that Jesus Christ is able. He was able to calm the storm. He was able to deliver the man from the demonic. He was able to heal the woman of her disease. He was able to rise up Jairus’ daughter from the dead. And He is able to save you and bring you to glory.  How powerful is Jesus Christ? That is a simple question is a huge answer. Jesus Christ is all-powerful. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). And after appearing to John in His blazing glory He said, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17b-18).


It does not matter who you are or how severe your problem is. You can come to Christ and find refuge in Him. This does not mean that you will be released from all disease and death. But what it does mean is that when you are faced with these things, you are able to trust in Christ knowing that He is Lord over these things. Also, because He is Lord over these things, the day of His future kingdom is coming. He will reverse the effects of the curse forever. For all those that have found forgiveness in Him, they will enjoy this forever reigning with Him for eternity.