A Simple Touch

The second woman I focused on during the conference was the woman who had a bleeding disorder and touched Jesus’ cloak. Like yesterday, I encourage you to take a moment and read the text, which can be found in Mark 5:24-34.

Again, I’ll wait and sing a song while you read.

There she was just a walking’ down the street. Singin’ do-wa-diddy-diddy-dum-diddy-do.

Done?

What struck me when I read this while studying was that the woman heard and then believed. She didn’t see and then believe. She heard and believed. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Romans 10:17 states, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”. So how does this woman differ from Martha? She didn’t believe that Jesus could heal from far away or that he could raise the dead. How is that different from the woman thinking she had to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment to be healed instead of just believing he could do it from afar? The faith of Martha was limited by what she believed he could or couldn’t do. However the woman believed that if she just touched his cloak she would be healed. In her mind he didn’t even have to know it had happened, much less look at her or speak to her. Just a small touch of the clothes he wore would cure her. And so it did.

Her belief was genuine and sincere. Do we believe that God can do all things? That nothing is impossible for Him?  So many times we ask God to do something and then believe He can instead of just believing in Him, that He will do what he says, that His promises are true, and that He is worthy of our faith to be put in Him. I’m not saying that God will heal every person if our faith is put in the right place, but our faith must be rightly placed if we are to see God move. We don’t have faith in him and follow him because of what we see him doing. We have faith in him and follow him because of who he is. Because he is worthy of our faith and worthy to be followed.

We have been asked numerous times why we are going back to Italy. For me, it is this: I believe that God will bring the nations to Himself and that is our job to get His name to those nations. I believe that He loves Italians and I believe that he can bring a nation – that was once alive with the Holy Spirit – back to Himself in such a mighty and powerful way that the heavens will rejoice and the world will be forever changed. Because I believe that, I am going. My faith in Him and His purpose is why I am going back.

Our faith tells us what we believe about God. This woman…her faith tells us she believed Jesus was a man who could heal, and he did. She acted out her faith by following him in a crowd and touching him. She acted. She lived out her faith. A little Old Testament history needs to be interjected so we can fully understand the magnitude of what she is doing. If a woman, under the Law, had a bleeding disorder she was to be isolated. So the fact that she has put herself in a position to be surrounded by people is a big deal. She stepped out in faith. The question now is how are we living out our faith? What does the way we live our lives say about what we believe about Jesus? Do we step out, knowing the way is murky at best, and that we will be ridiculed and questioned, but counting the costs worth it? Or do we stay where it is safe and easy and comfortable, never fully trusting in the promises of God?

But why did the power of Jesus not go through every other person who was crowded among him? AFter he asks WHo touched him, the disciples, in my imagination, look at him incredulously asking What are you talking about man? Do you not see all the people around you? When I read this story now I get this image in my mind of Naples at Christmas.  There is a street called Scapanapoli, which is as straight as an arrow and very, very long. It is also really narrow. One of the perpendicular streets that runs into it is called Christmas Alley because they sell nativities, which Naples is famous for. So at Christmas time those two streets are just not passable. i know this because the first time my in-laws came to visit we wanted to show them the city and Spaccanapoli was one of those things. We head down there and you can see from the top of the street that it looks sort of crowded. Then we get into the thick of it and you could not move hardly and the closer we got to Christmas Alley the worse it was. I think at one point we were all holding hands in a single file so we wouldn’t lose one another. There were people pressing from all sides. I’ve never been a claustrophobic person, but that day I think all four of us were. It took I think about two hours to go three quarters of a mile, if that. But I’m not really good with measuring distance so it could be much longer or much shorter than three quarters of a mile, but it sounds good so let’s go with it. When we landed on the other side and disembarked from the throng of people the first thing we all did was take a giant breath. Paul and I never went back down there during November or December.

I imagine the scene around Jesus was something like that. And yet he asked “Who touched me?”

Now the woman knew what had happened to her and we can infer a little of her character at this point. Since she came forward and admitted to the whole thing we can safely assume she was an honest woman. And what does she receive for her honesty? I think with tenderness and caring he looks at the woman and calls her Daughter. Daughter is a term of endearment and family. I dont’ go around calling random children “Daughter”. So who is she a daughter to? Jesus? Then who does that make Jesus? He has just again, very subtlety, equated himself with God the Father. I had never noticed it before, but it an important part of the story for he is revealing his deity to this woman and to us.

This is the only place recorded where Jesus calls someone daughter. Her faith had brought her into his spiritual family. Her faith expressed belief that Jesus could heal her and hope that he would. Daughter, he says, your faith has made you well. To show her he is not angry he tells her to go in peace. Remember she had come in fear and trembling. She had no idea what he was going to say to her. By telling her to go in peace he’s telling her to not be afraid. But why emphasize that her faith had healed her? Jesus didn’t want her to think it was simply her touching his cloak that had healed her. Her faith is what had healed her. And Jesus wanted her to understand that. This woman was healed because she stepped out in faith – because she believed.

I have had to ask myself what does the way I am living my life say about what I believe about Jesus. It’s hard to look in the mirror and ask hard questions. It’s even harder to answer them honestly.

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