Sunday’s Sermon: Who is Jesus?: The Healing Touch

A woman sits along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

It was a warm day. The sun was shinning. There was a light breeze in the air. The sound of the water hitting the rocks along the shore was soothing to the ear. Fishermen could be seen up and down the shore carrying their catch of fish for the day. Children were laughing and enjoying a simple day by the sea.

But she was not laughing. There she sat on that rock, amid the laughter and the normalcy of a warm day, full of despair and without hope. She was in pain. She was hurting. She was deeply sick.

For 12 years, she had suffered from a deep hemorrhage, an unspeakable kind of hemorrhage. Each day for 12 years, she would wake up feeling gross and dirty. She felt the pain of constantly bleeding. She felt the hurt of being cast aside by her friends and family. Ceremonially, she was considered unclean. She would not have been allowed in the synagogues, which was the central place of worship and community fellowship. Anything she touched would have been considered unclean, so she would not have been able to be with a husband or her family. She was alone.

She was broke as well. In trying to find an answer to her sickness, she went to every doctor she could find. She spent what little she had on her desire to be well. Unfortunately, no one had any answers. The only thing that came out of these visits were more pain, more bleeding, and financial ruin.

On this beautiful day, there she sat on the rock. Completely alone. Completely broke. Fearful that her bleeding might never stop. She was tired and discouraged. Where could she turn for help?

In the distance, there was a sense of excitement in the air. A crowd was forming. Everyone had stopped what they are doing and were moving toward where a small boat has just docked. She looks at the boat and notices that a man gets out. He was not alone. There are several other men with him – about 12, she counts. She can’t really make out who it is and why the people are gathered around him. Her eyes stays focused on him until she can figure out who he is and why everyone was so excited he had arrived.

As the crowd came closer, she noticed this man was in the center of the crowd. He was smiling and talking with the people. Eventually, she begins to recognize him. It was Jesus. She had heard so much about him. Even though she had never laid eyes on him, she knew who he was. His reputation in the community went before him. She had heard the stories of his powerful teaching and the love he shared with those the religious leaders said were unworthy of being loved. She knew the powerful acts he had done and the people he had healed. Even though it happened on the other side of the lake, she had heard people talk about how he cured a man who had been demon-possessed. She remembered the claims people made about Jesus. They said he was the long expected Savior. Even more, that he was the living Son of God who was filled with the power that comes from God, because he is God.

Her despondency begins to turn into hope. She recognizes she is in the presence of the Living Lord. She stands up from her rock and goes to join the crowd. As she takes her first step, she feels the brush of a man running past her. It was Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. She wondered why he was in a hurry. Was he another member of the Pharisees who wanted to challenge Jesus on his teaching? As soon as she thinks this, she notices Jairus do something unusual for a leader of his stature. He falls at Jesus’ feet. He had come to seek mercy from Jesus. Why? Jairus begins to tell Jesus about his daughter. She is sick and dying. The woman sees the compassion and concern of a desperate father. He doesn’t want to lose his daughter. He needs Jesus to bring her back to wholeness. He places his hope, his faith, that Jesus is able and willing to do just that.

Jesus agrees to go with Jairus. The first stages of healing are initiated. There are two main elements we can see simply in the fact that Jesus decides to go with Jairus to see his daughter. First, there is an opening of a relationship between Jairus and Jesus. A relationship is central to any healing. It sets the framework for Jesus and the Holy Spirit to bring healing in an individual, as Brad Long and Cindy Strickler write. Many of the healings Jesus did has this introductory element of establishing a relationship. Often, it is someone coming to Jesus to seek healing, as is the case here, and also the blind men in Matthew 9. The second is that Jesus has compassion for the child and the father. Compassion and love, which flows out of Jesus’ nature as the very Son of God, is prominent in every healing. One of the most powerful verses of Scripture is John 11:35, which we find in the middle of the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. After seeing the tomb, “Jesus wept” in a powerful expression of his love and compassion for all people. It is with that same compassion and desire for all to come into a relationship with Him that Jesus goes to see Jairus’ daughter.

Jesus doesn’t go alone. He is followed by the large crowd that had circled around him. The woman is there in the crowd. She’s seen everything that has taken place. She wants that same healing that she knows the girl will soon receive. She doesn’t want to take away the girl’s healing. She just wants to be whole and healed too. She thinks if she could just get close enough to Jesus to touch his robe, then she would be healed. She knew others had simply touched him and were healed.

So, she pushes her way towards Jesus. She’s not concerned about making others unclean by touching them. She just wants to get close to Jesus. After pushing her way through the crowd, she gets close enough to touch him. With a sense of desperation, hope, and excitement, she quickly reaches out and touches the edge of his robe. Immediately, she is healed. The bleeding stops. Imagine her joy in that moment. See the tears flowing from her eyes. Experience the overwhelming sense of relief in the depths of her soul. For the first time in 12 years, she felt free and pure.

As she is feeling this sense of joy, Jesus stops his journey to Jairus’ daughter. He felt that healing power had gone forth from him and touched someone. Jesus begins to look around to see who might have touched him. The Disciples are looking around at a loss. They knew Jesus had been touched by multiple people. In fact, they were a little frustrated, because they knew the mission was to go to Jairus’ daughter. There was no time to sit around trying to figure out who among the hundreds had touched him.

But, Jesus wanted to talk with the person. He needed to. He had to put the healing in its proper perspective. There was a quasi-magical reason why the woman touched Jesus’ robe. In those days, there was a belief that touching the clothes of a religious leader, who had power from God, would bring healing to the individual. Paul has the same experience in Acts 19, when people were healed of diseases merely by their handkerchiefs touching his skin. Jesus wanted to make sure the woman knew the real reason for her healing. It wasn’t because she touched him. It was because of God’s compassion and desire for her to be healed. It was a free gift of God’s grace given in response to her faith. Healing is an expression of compassion, but it is also an expression of God’s power and the authority given to Jesus as the Son of God. Together with the Holy Spirit, Jesus is able to heal the sick, raise the dead, and give sight to the blind. On this day, the power that is in his nature as the Son of God comes out of him and touches the woman in the area of her greatest need and brings healing to her body. In that moment, she experienced the fullness of the Kingdom of God and felt the promise of a time of no illness, tears, or pain, all of which came to her through the power of God, expressed freely through Jesus’ love.

Hearing that Jesus was looking for her, the woman begins to walk back toward him. The joy she felt just moments ago has been replaced with a sense of fear. She is trembling. She has no idea what Jesus is going to do. Will he be mad at her? Will he put the sickness back on her? Will she never be healed now? She had no idea. Courageously, she walks forward and falls at Jesus’ feet. With a sense a humility and an act of confession in her faith in Christ, she tells Jesus why she touched him. She tells him her story and the pain of 12 years of being sick. She merely wanted to touch him, because she knew that within him was healing, within him was grace, and within him was hope and love.

Jesus then looks at the woman and tells her why she was healed. It was her faith in him that he is the Son of God. God honored her faith by giving her the gift of healing. Healing is an act of compassion, as an expression of the power of God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and it is put in its proper context for a future relationship. In these words, “Daughter your faith has made you well,” Jesus invites the woman into a journey of faith. He calls her a daughter, a child of God. She is no longer abandoned and alone. She is now adopted in God’s family, because of her faith in Christ.

Not only this, Jesus starts her new life with a blessing. She is sent away with a command of peace. Jesus is telling her she is now whole. She will never suffer again. Christ, through her faith in him, has made her whole. We don’t know what happens to her from this moment on, but we know her life is never the same. Her life is a new journey from that day forward.

On this day, in these few moments, this woman felt the depths of Jesus’ compassion to freely give of himself so others might be healed and free from their diseases. We do not worship a God who sits on the sidelines while the world hurts. We worship a God who is right there in the midst of our pain and our hurts to bring forth healing. Sometimes it is instantaneous and other times it happens over the course of a lifetime. No matter when or how healing comes, it expresses God’s compassion, and his power, and points us back into relationship with him so that he will receive the glory and praise.

Today, we have been touched by this powerful story. Maybe you have seen yourself in this story. Maybe there is something in your life that you need Christ to touch and bring healing. Maybe you know something about someone else who needs healing that only comes from Christ. I don’t do this often, but I want to encourage you during our final song to find yourself at the altar. Spend time with God in prayer and seek his face in an act of faith and dependency on Him in our lives.

May today be the day that healing comes to us all, no matter our need and no matter our situation, just like it came to that woman so long ago.

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