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Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Touch of Faith



Mark 5:24-34 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him. And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

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Twelve Years. Twelve years she had suffered this sickness, this plague that drained her strength, resources, and courage. The doctors had tried everything. Treatments of the era included horrible potions with anything from fly dung to human remains in them, as well as 'cures' such as breathing sulfur and pitch smoke for long periods of time. Whether or not this woman tried these things, we don't know--however, she had "suffered many things of many physicians". So whatever cures she had tried were painful and difficult. And expensive. She had literally impoverished herself in hopes of relief...and still she continued to grow worse. Without money, nothing more could be done. 

In Leviticus the Bible talks about how a woman with this type of ailment was to be handled--it was very similar to a leper. Not only was she herself unclean, but anyone who touched her was as well. Even more specifically, if she touched something, no one else could touch that thing without becoming ritually unclean. If she had a house at all, no one would dare to enter it. When she went out, she would be shunned and avoided religiously. If she accidentally defiled someone or something, there would be angry and hurtful words, I'm sure. 

For twelve years she was alone with her pain. Friends and family had long ago moved on with their lives without her. She had no property or savings to at least buy what comfort she could...she had spent everything. Despair had closed in around her.

And then she heard of Jesus.

Maybe some neighbors were talking outside her door one day. Maybe she was carefully slipping through the marketplace and overheard a snatch of conversation. Perhaps, (and I like to imagine that this was the case), some remaining friend remembered her pain and misery, and risked taking a trip to her house to tell her! Whatever the case, she heard of this prophet, this man who many said was the very Son of God--the promised Messiah. And even though she had suffered so much at the hands of the doctors, and given up hope that they could help her, somehow she knew that this was different. Hope flooded her heart--and not just hope, but certainty. She believed with all her heart that Jesus could heal her! Perhaps she knew the prophecies of the Scriptures, and the stories of Jesus confirmed in her heart the belief that He truly was the Messiah. He was her only hope!

She set out to find Jesus. It wasn't hard to do, as half the surrounding country was pressing in on Him from all directions. Can you imagine how much faith it took for her to enter that crowd? For twelve years, she had avoided all human contact...and she was going to step into a throng of humanity and push through it in order to get to Christ. If there were any in the crowd who knew her, they may have even shouted or thrown stones at her. She was so determined, that none of it mattered--she HAD to snatch this one chance given to her! When she finally reached Him, she had no thought of speaking to Him. Why would the Son of God want to talk to an unclean woman like her? She simply wanted to touch the very edge of His clothes; and in her heart, she knew that would be enough. That He was able to heal her with one touch. 

Her world stood still for a moment. The shouts and cries of the people around her became a muted rumble. She could see his mantle ahead, and her hand as she reached as far as she could through the teeming bodies around her. With the tips of her fingers, she brushed the fabric's edge. And in that instant, her life was irrevocably changed. The throbbing pain had filled her body for so long that she couldn't remember what it was to be free of it...and suddenly she was. It vanished in a single moment. Her heart suddenly felt light and free, and bursting with joy and relief--the plague was gone!

And then through the crowd she heard His voice. Somehow she knew that it was Jesus, and He was speaking to her. The thought of going to Him in front of this crowd and telling Him what she had done made her heart thump and her mouth go dry. Had she stolen her healing? Would He take it away? Trembling, she weakly made her way to the break in the crowd where He stood. Falling to her knees before Him, the words poured out. All the hurt and fear, brokenness and heartbreak, that had been bottled up for years. And Jesus understood. With one word, He pronounced His immeasurable love and grace to her. Daughter. She looked into His eyes, and the ancient wisdom and love she saw there forever changed her. "Go in peace," He said, and she felt as if nothing but peace could ever enter her heart again! Through faith in the Messiah, she was not only set free from the physical pain that had darkened her life, but Oh, so much more--she was eternally redeemed. The light of Christ's perfect compassion had reached even her...a poor, lowly, and unclean woman. 

I want to draw a parallel with this story. Before coming to Christ, are we not all like this woman? Sick with sin and guilt, unclean in the eyes of God, destined for an eternity of suffering. We have nothing. We try so many things for relief: entertainment, sensual pleasure, wealth, friends...and yet none of it can fix our core problem of sin. In fact, we only grow worse and worse, sinking deeper and deeper. The way of the transgressor is hard; even though we might pretend to have perfect lives, (even deceiving our own selves many times), there is an utter emptiness deep within that never goes away. 

And then, somehow, we hear of One called Jesus. Maybe we've heard the story hundreds of times, and it suddenly hits us. Maybe it's the first time we've ever been told. But in that moment, we have a decision to make that will forever change us. Do we reach out in faith for the hem of Christ's garment, knowing we have no power to heal ourselves? Or do we turn away, putting it off for another day--even though that day very well may never come? If we choose to trust Christ, all it takes is one simple act of crying out to Him. He asks for nothing in return. In fact, if we try to offer payment, it simply shows that we still don't understand His grace. There were many others in the crowd that touched Jesus that day. Just look at the disciples' response to His question, "Who touched me?". What was different about this woman's touch? It was a touch of faith. A touch of desperation. She knew that if Christ couldn't save her, no one else could. And in His infinite mercy, He DID save her!! And He can save us as well. 

I find it fascinating that in the entire New Testament, this is the only time when Jesus Christ bestows the term "Daughter" on a specific person. Look it up, and see if you can find another instance...I couldn't. This fact is so precious to me. The term "daughter" speaks volumes of the love and compassion that He had for her. I believe there must have been a specific reason that He said that to her. After so many years of being rejected, He was showing her that her faith was accepted before God. She was adopted into His family. She was loved. I am loved. You are loved.  

If you are reading this and have never come to Christ for salvation, I want to plead with you to let go of whatever is holding you back and come to Him. The Bible says that whoever comes to Him, He will in NO WISE (never ever!) cast out. He is waiting for you to reach out to Him in faith. He wants to save you. Please, don't keep looking for healing in other places. Come to the One who is able to save to the uttermost. One act of faith is all it takes. 
Mykaela

7 comments:

  1. Mykaela, this post is so thought-provoking! I've always been intrigued by the short account of the woman with the issue of blood.. It's such a powerful story,but I've rare!y heard it told in her perspective. Well,perhaps that isn't quite true..often a pastor will speculate on what the disease could have been,or how long she must have suffered. But for some reason your thoughts on what her life could have been like,and how she might have heard about Jesus,were especially interesting to me. For the first time I could actually picture myself in her shoes! I love it when people use their imagination to see beyond the stories in the Bible- not changing God's Word but trying to understand what the characters in the accounts are going through. So often the Biblical passages are brief,but to the people mentioned in them they must have been life-changing. An instance of this would be in Acts 17:34,where the Bible tells us that "certain men clave unto him, (Paul) and believed:among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite,and a woman named Damaris,and others with them." That is such a short mention of these few souls in Athens,and yet it tells such a story! They are only mentioned in this one short verse,and yet they made the most important, life changing decision in the world..they believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To my knowledge, they aren't brought up again. That verse is the only time they appear. But they believed,when most of the others rejected the message. I can hardly imagine what a difference that made in their lives,but I'm sure it had a great impact. For us,reading the Bible today, that verse in Acts probably doesn't signify much.. except perhaps the end of the chapter, the fulfillment of our daily Bible reading. But for those believers,the story had just begun.

    For me at least,it can be hard to slow down while reading the Bible to truly think and ponder on what is actually going on. That is why stories on Bible characters are so important to me..fictional books can often cause me to think of something I never have before. For example,in your list of recommendations on the blog I believe you put the Chuck Black "Wars of the Realm" series. I read those books,and they were so intriguing! I had never stopped to study angels,and the author's thoughts on spiritual warfare were astounding. He honestly stated in the books that he couldn't know for sure if what he wrote was even close to the angels/demons' presence on earth,since the Bible doesn't specifically say much on that subjects. But he studied the information in the Bible about such beings, and from then on speculated on what else there could be to the story. And it was very, very helpful to me,because otherwise I might never have looked further into the topic. Again, I'm not saying we should add or subtract from God's Word, (Scripture clearly shows that to be wrong!) and we should be careful not to speculate too much,but I do like to look at the Bible from the character's perspective! :)

    Anyway! Wow,I just realized how long that comment was! Oh well,you asked for it! ;) I enjoyed the post very much,and as you can tell,it has caused me to mull some things over in my mind! I liked your comparison of the woman's story to our own story of rebirth through Him,and it was neat to think about Jesus calling her "Daughter". I never noticed that before! :) Thank you for the post!

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    1. Aww, Jenny I'm so happy you liked it! I felt like I poured my heart into this post even more than normal, so getting good feedback is really a blessing to me. :)

      I love your thoughts on the people that got saved... That is so true, and interesting to think about the lives of the people that the Bible mentions only briefly. How precious it will be to meet them someday in heaven and talk about how their lives were transformed through the power of the gospel!! :)

      I totally agree... It is really neat when people write books on things that make the Bible come alive for me. That's why I love Tessa Afshar so much--she writes with such passion and speculates so intelligently (with lots of research on the times), but while making it clear that she is not changing Scripture, and it is Fiction. It makes me think so much more about the personal lives of the Bible characters.

      I just heard recently that that was the only time in the Bible that Jesus had called someone "daughter", but had never researched it. The only other thing I could find was when he was addressing groups such as "the daughters of Jerusalem". So interesting! I love this story so much. Another thing that is interesting to think about is that while this whole scene was transpiring, Jairus was in the background waiting for Jesus to heal his dying little girl!! Can you imagine how desperate he must have been for him to finish with this woman??? And yet even in that Christ had a perfect plan... He raised her from the dead! :) God is amazing.

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  2. Wow, this was just amazing. Thank you so much for sharing, Mykaela! Especially talking about the way they would have treated a woman like her - that was very helpful to take into perspective. Thank you for taking the time to write this post!!

    -Grace

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    1. I am so glad you enjoyed it, Grace!! I tried to be accurate in my research on the customs of the time. I can't imagine how it would feel to be ostracized from society like that, can you?? What a blessing it must have been for her to get her life back after her encounter with Christ! :) Thank you for commenting! <3

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  3. I saved this post in my email because I loved it so much, and knew I had to leave a comment to let you know. :)


    So beautiful. Truly. Like you. I miss you and am praying for you!! <3

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    1. Thank you, Kimberly!! That means so much to me. :') Thank you for being such a wonderful friend! I miss you too, so much!! <3 <3

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