“A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work.” Review & Herald, March 22, 1887. This is one of the most well-known statements in Adventism. In fact, just last year there was an entire quarter in the adult Sabbath School built around this one statement. But I don’t think most of us have understood it. According to Ms. White, what is this revival we need? A revival of true godliness—that’s what we need. But, what is true godliness?
“Christ gave a perfect representation of true godliness by combining the work of a physician and a minister, ministering to the needs of both body and soul, healing physical disease, and then speaking words that brought peace to the troubled heart.” Review & Herald, June 9, 1904. Of course, we want to watch Him do that today. But let’s look at both of these quotations side by side.
“A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work.” In triage, what kind of problems do we address first? The most urgent. We have many needs, and the patients have many needs. But the greatest and most urgent of all our needs is true godliness; so our first work should be to seek true godliness. And what is true godliness? Combining the work of a physician and a minister. This is what we need to be seeking.
Now what is the work of a physician? Ministering to the needs of the body and healing physical disease. And the work of a minister? Ministering to the needs of the soul and speaking words that bring peace to the troubled heart. A worldly physician can diagnose and treat diseases of the body. But we want to be godly medical missionaries that understand and minister to both the needs of the body and the needs of the soul.
The needs of the body are rest, fresh air, sunshine, etc.—we know all of these. But only a godly physician knows how to treat disease in a fully comprehensive way, and can understand the needs of the soul: Bible study, prayer, and testimony. Only the godly medical missionary can understand how to recognize and treat troubled hearts with words that bring peace. You remember that John 14:1 starts with, “Let not your heart be troubled”. Anything else is heavenly malpractice. We need to see how Jesus treated the needs of both the body and the soul because this illustrates our greatest need, which is true godliness.
Jesus the Great Physician makes house calls. Today, not many physicians or dentists make house calls. There’s no time, our waiting rooms are too busy, and it’s too expensive to go to the home. But Jesus was never too busy to make house calls. Let’s take a look at one such case; but first we need to look at the context of the story.
“So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him.” Luke 8:40. Compared to Jesus, there isn’t one of us that knows what it means to be busy. Healing crowds of people in the evening, counseling Nicodemus by night, robbed of sleep by storms that He stilled, praying long before sunrise, treating demoniacs at dawn, teaching the disciples through the day—Jesus’ waiting room was always full. The context is summarized well in The Spirit of Prophecy Volume 2: “At length, faint and weary with the work of teaching and healing, Jesus left the multitude in order to partake of food in the house of Levi.” p. 318.
The waiting room is full, but Jesus has got to get something to eat, his disciples need something to eat, so the cooks at Levi’s house have been preparing lunch. Jesus leaves the waiting room and He goes to the house of Levi. “But the people pressed about the door, bringing the sick, the deformed, and the lunatic, for him to heal.” p. 318. Think of that: sick, deformed, crazy. Jesus was surrounded by a lot of crazy people, before they saw Him.
“As He sat at the table one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus, by name, came”. p. 318. As he tries to get a bite to eat, He still can’t escape the waiting room. Jairus was an influential man in Capernaum, the ruler of the synagogue. His job was the combination of deacon, head elder, and senior pastor. It was not easy for this haughty leader to swallow his pride and seek help from Jesus. To seek Jesus was to lose His synagogue position. It meant ridicule and rejection by the religious leaders. But his only child, a twelve-year-old daughter, is dying. And in a last, desperate resort to preserve her life, Jairus turns to Jesus.
He had gone to the most learned pediatricians in Israel. But they’d finally done everything they could, and they’d given up saying, “There’s nothing else we can do, she’s going to die”. Now, because Jairus had waited until his daughter was at the point of death to finally seek Jesus, his daughter is simply too sick to carry and he sets out on the desperate mission all by himself.
Jairus had become so desperate, that even though Jesus was at the home of a despised publican—that he normally would never darken the door of—he goes into this publican’s house. He pushes his way through the outcasts, the sick, the deformed, and the lunatics that are surrounding the door of Matthew’s house, and gets admitted. He falls down at Jesus’ feet and begs Him to come heal his daughter.
Stopping His lunch, leaving untasted some of the food that had been lovingly cooked for Him, Jesus and His disciples immediately started out to make this house call. But they did not set out alone for the man was the ruler of the synagogue. On the way to heal the daughter, Jesus sought to heal the father. Because He had true godliness, Jesus combined the treatment of the body with the healing of the soul. Jairus came with this physical problem, but as we’ll see, there was a much worse problem.
“But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him.” v. 41. Mark adds that there was a “great multitude” around Him. Mark 5:24. This great multitude brought Jairus’ emergency its first apparent obstacle. But it was really a solution, because it meant Jairus would spend more time with Jesus. The crowd of people was so great, there was a virtual gridlock. Though the anxious father impatiently tried to speed the pace, Jesus could only move slowly in the direction of Jairus’ house.
The pictures you see depicting Jesus in crowds are almost always wrong. Generally they show Him with plenty of personal space between Him and the crowds—a nice comfort zone. But that’s not how it was. It might be helpful to get an eyewitness description of Jesus surrounded by crowds: “He allowed the crowd to press round Him, and complained not, though sometimes almost lifted off His feet.” The Upward Look, p. 57. Isn’t that an amazing description? His was a crowded waiting room—and He didn’t have a back entrance. But He didn’t allow the impatience of those waiting to make Him either impatient or hurried. I love the eyewitness report of Inspiration. Let the Holy Spirit play the YouTube video on the screen of your imagination as we read:
“Although it was only a short distance, their progress was very slow; for the people pressed forward on every side eager to see the great Teacher who had created so much excitement, begging His attention and His aid. The anxious father urged his way through the crowd, fearful of being too late. But Jesus, pitying the people, and deploring”—now notice the two parts—“their spiritual darkness and physical maladies, stopped now and then to minister to their wants.” The Spirit of Prophecy Volume 2, p. 319. What is our greatest need? A revival of true godliness. What is true godliness? Ministering to the body and the soul. Jesus was a gospel minister who could treat spiritual disease, and He was a physician who could treat physical illness. And Jesus ministered to both because He had true godliness.
I wonder which requests He granted. I wonder what made Him stop, and which requests were ignored. Some of the crowd made desperate attempts to get near Him and get His attention. “Occasionally he was nearly carried off his feet by the surging masses.” p. 319.
Now, most of the stories from this event will have to wait for heaven; there’s only one video clip that was preserved for us to watch.
In stark contrast to the medical crisis of the dying girl is the chronic problem of an older woman. “Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years”. Luke 8:43. Stop and think about this for a moment. It’s just a little detail, but the very same year that Jairus and his wife were rejoicing that they had a newborn baby daughter; this woman began mourning the loss of her health. Now, twelve short years later for Jairus, and twelve long years later for the woman, they both have a need that only Jesus can fill.
We don’t know exactly what was the cause of this woman’s menorrhagia—fibroids, polyps, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, thyroid problems, endometriosis, liver or kidney disease; the differential is long. But whatever the medical diagnosis, the woman would have become anemic from the bleeding, decreasing her endurance. Furthermore, the poor woman was not only sick, she was ostracized like a leper because she was unclean. That means she could not worship in the temple, she could not get a job, and she couldn’t have a relationship with her husband.
When her problem began, her Facebook friends Googled menorrhagia; but they found no answers. Acquaintances suggested this remedy and that remedy, this diet and that, this natural treatment and that natural treatment. But nothing worked; in fact some treatments worsened her condition. In a frantic, but fruitless search for help, she had gone from physician to physician, specialist to specialist, and had lost her insurance.
Dr. Luke is very diplomatic when speaking of his fellow physicians. He said she had, “Spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any.” v. 43. But Mark felt under no such professional restraints. He bluntly says that she, “Had suffered many things from many physicians.” Mark 5:26. She had spent all that she had and was no better but rather grew worse. Like Jairus’ daughter, this woman had been abandoned to die by the physicians who had taken her money.
Acute problems impact us far differently than chronic problems. Chronic conditions grind us down emotionally, socially, and financially. At last this woman had no more money to spend and she had no one to turn to. Her friends were tired of hearing about her problem and she couldn’t discuss it with them anymore. Her prayers seemed unanswered. Alone, penniless, friendless, and forsaken, she despaired of ever having a life again. Like Jairus, when every other solution failed, she turned to Jesus.
Jesus’ waiting room was filled with stories of failure. It was filled with the poor, the hopeless, the rejected, the marginalized, the ignorant, the weak, the odd, and the misfits. But it was these outcasts who were transformed by Christ that made up the early church. The church that was the wonder of the universe and the standard that judges all subsequent generations of Christians.
We don’t have the details about how she got the funds to travel to Capernaum where Jesus often stayed. We don’t know how far she had to travel or how long it took her in her weakened state. Without an appointment, she arrived at the waiting room outside of Matthew’s house, trying to reach Jesus. This woman faced daunting odds against reaching Jesus. Have you ever tried to communicate with a famous person? What are the odds you’d be able to get on the phone right now and talk to the President of the United States or the Queen of England? It’s not easy.
First, this woman had no influential position that would make the crowd open up for her; so she had to push her way through. She may have watched Jairus cut to the front of the line and go inside the house. But the crowd gave her no notice; they would not open up for her. Second, she had no emergency to get the disciple-gatekeepers’ attention to bring her to Jesus quickly. And finally, Jesus Himself seemed to pass her by.
“Amid the confusion, she could not be heard by Him nor catch more than a passing glimpse of his figure.” p. 320. He was so near, but seemed so far. But she’d seen a glimpse of Jesus, and that glimpse gave her the opportunity that she had sought. She had seen Him just ahead. Making every exertion and coming from behind, she was able to stretch her arm to the limit, and she just managed to touch the edge of His garment with her fingertip.
She thought she was reaching out to touch Jesus. She was to discover that He was reaching out to touch her. For in the instant that she touched the edge of the cloth, she felt a power surge through her body, and she was made whole. Her bleeding stopped. Her anemia vanished. Her energy level was normal. Mark says, “She felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.” Mark 5:29.
Since the woman was healed, Jesus could have gone on with His travels to the home of Jairus without further delay. But that is not what happened—because Jesus had true godliness. He was not simply a physician of the body and could not be satisfied by only healing the body. He desired to make man every whit whole. So Jesus stopped, turned around, and asked, “Who touched me?”
One eyewitness recalls the scene: “The people answered this query with a look of amazement. Jostled upon all sides, and rudely pressed hither and thither as He was, it seemed indeed a singular inquiry.” p. 320. When they all denied it—all these people who were pushing Him and then quickly saying, “No I didn’t push, I really didn’t”—Peter expressed the confusion of all the disciples by the question, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” Luke 8:45. Jesus continued looking directly at the woman while He explained, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” v. 46.
“Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling”. v. 47. The years of sickness had shattered her emotionally. She was frightened. The healing of her body had not healed her emotionally. For Jesus to stop His healing by only addressing her physical needs would have made the healing incomplete.
For years she had been embarrassed and ashamed of her problem and had become adept at hiding the problem from others. She had been satisfied with one brief touch of the hem of Christ’s garment, Jesus had much more to offer her. Her brief and distant encounter was life-changing, but He desired her to come boldly to Him and His throne of grace for all the problems of her life. And His invitation to her is extended to all who have had a short, but life-giving encounter with Jesus.
She took the next step in faith, “Falling down before Him”. v. 47. By this action, she moved from seeing Jesus as the Savior of her body to accepting Him as the Savior of her soul. Jairus had kneeled before Jesus with a request. Now, this woman kneeled before Jesus with thankfulness and praise. Jesus loves and responds to both kinds of prayer.
“She declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him, and how she was healed immediately.” v. 47. After her testimony, Jesus gave her instruction that would guide her for the rest of her life. “And He said to her, ‘Daughter’”. v. 48. He assured her that she was His child. She had all the privileges of a child. It was not alone for this woman that Jesus paused; He wanted to increase Jairus’ faith and teach Jairus an important spiritual truth as well. Just as Jairus was concerned about the illness of his daughter, He saw that Jesus had a father’s concern for the well-being of this outcast woman that was a daughter of His.
“Be of good cheer”. v. 48. Her years of illness had brought her depression, which Jesus now addressed. She was a child of the king; there was no reason for her hopelessness. Just as He had healed her body, now His word healed her depression. For God’s children, weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. She might have endured twelve long, painful, embarrassing years, but God had not forsaken her during this time. Her illness had taught her the limited value of money or specialists to solve the problems of life.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”. 2 Corinthians 4:17. It was not until now that she was ready to be healthy. The experience so grievous was for her good. Like Moses herding sheep or Israel’s forty years of wandering in the wilderness, like Job’s losses and illnesses, or David’s years as a fugitive, she could know that all things would work together for those that loved God.
“Your faith has made you well.” Luke 8:48. It was trusting God in the darkness that made her well and it was trusting God in the light that would keep her well. “Go in peace.” v. 48. Like the publican worshiper who prayed for mercy and left the temple justified, this woman not only had her body cleansed; her soul was cleansed as well. She was forgiven. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. Romans 5:1.
For a moment, Jairus forgot his own anxiety as he listened to the woman’s tearful testimony of long days of suffering now in the past. His own heart was being softened. The healing touch of Jesus was providing a remedy for Jairus. We see that Jesus’ healing ministry was far beyond the body. “The delay of Jesus had been so intensely interesting in its results that even the anxious father felt no impatience but watched the scene with deep interest.” p. 322.
What an amazing scene it must have been to distract this father, making him forget his dying daughter! “As the healed woman was sent away comforted and rejoicing, it encouraged him to believe still more firmly that Jesus was able to grant his own petition and heal his daughter.” p. 322, 323. But just then a message came that was to test his faith more deeply.
“While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, ‘Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher.’” Luke 8:49. Jairus thought he was coming to Jesus to save his daughter; he didn’t realize Jesus was seeking to apply the healing remedy to his own soul. But Jairus is now ready to be treated more directly. Jesus heard the report and dealt not with the physical issues of the daughter, but the emotional and spiritual issues of the father.
“But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.’” v. 50. Jairus you see had two problems. He was fearful and he was unbelieving. These two things would keep him out of heaven. These sins are classed with abominations, murders, moral impurity, witchcraft, idol worship, and dishonesty. But Jesus’ word could as powerfully heal Jairus’ fearfulness and doubt as it could resurrect and heal his daughter.
“When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl.” v. 51. The throngs following Jesus were left outside. Here we see how Jesus conducted an anointing service. It was done quietly and in private. Jesus had spoken with Jairus. Now he had opportunity to speak to the wife and mother as well. Jesus’ work is primarily an individual work. He’s not interested in simply educating the masses; He delights to minister to the needs of the individual. He works in the homes and He restores families.
But though the throngs following Jesus were not permitted in the house, there was much confusion within the home. “Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, ‘Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.’” v. 52. Humans are so clueless. We mourn at the wrong time, in the wrong way, and for the wrong reason. We laugh when we should be weeping, and we weep when we should be rejoicing. What good would all this wailing do to restore the girl’s health? And what was the point of mourning for this girl? She was going to be well in a few moments. These mourners didn’t wail when the girl took a nap in the afternoon—why wail here?
There’s no reason to mourn in the presence of Jesus. In His presence is fullness of joy; He wipes all tears from our eyes. These mourners stopped mourning and started ridiculing Jesus, knowing the girl was dead. But death isn’t the end; Jesus gives life. He forgives our iniquities, He redeems our life from destruction—this is the benefit they forgot.
He put them all outside. This is a miniature judgment; the disbelievers will be outside the city walls. Jesus separates the wheat from the chaff. By our response to the word of God—to truth—we determine whether we will be put outside. Those who want to remain in Jesus’ joyful presence will put out of their minds all doubt and disbelief of God’s word.
In this enacted parable, Jesus was also saying our children need to be protected from the influence of the doubters and scoffers of God’s word. There’s no sense to raise them in that environment or they will quickly die again. Those influences need to be put out of our homes. Do you want to be a medical missionary? Dismiss the ideas of all those who ridicule the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.
After He put the doubters and mockers outside, what did Jesus do? Did He give some health education? There’s a place for health education, but it doesn’t help the dead. There’s a place for instruction; but it doesn’t help the dead. There have been many times that I have tried to educate the dead. Jesus came close to Jairus’ daughter and took her by the hand that was cold from death. Jesus’ approach, you see, to each person, was individualized. He said nothing to the woman that was bleeding; He simply came as close as her arm could reach. To the man with the withered hand, He said stretch it out. But He took the hand of the dead daughter of Jairus. As medical missionaries, we need to know each type and how to reach them, or how to have them reach us. Then Jesus, “Called saying, ‘Little girl, arise.’ Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat.” v. 54, 55.
On August 5, 2013 at Kettering Medical Center, there was a person that was pronounced dead. Forty-five minutes later that person was alive. But it took a week before he was ready to leave the hospital. Not this girl; she rose immediately. And now is the time for health education; Jesus does this and tells them to feed her.
“And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.” v. 56. Medical missionary evangelism is effective in assuring publicity for the prosperity of God’s cause. But although medical missionary work brought Jesus great fame and publicity, that was not the purpose of these works of benevolence. Jesus’ medical missionary work was a quiet work, a work without outward show. Jesus didn’t heal to bring Himself fame and fortune. He healed to bring comfort and relief. He used the physical to introduce the spiritual.
Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.