Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 26 – The touch that heals

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she kept saying, “If only I touch his clothes, I will be healed.” At once the bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Jesus knew at once that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”   (Mark 5:27-30  NET)

We normally assume that anyone who reaches out to touch Jesus will be healed, but that was not the case in Capernaum on this particular day.  There was a multitude around Jesus and many must have touched Him, but the touch of one sick woman was clearly in a category all its own because Jesus immediately turned around and ask who had touched Him.  Her touch was so potent that Jesus instantly knew that power had left His body (Luke) but since she had touched Him from behind, He hadn’t seen her. Only when she stepped forward and told Him the whole story did He know who it was that had been healed.

There are so many things to learn from this woman’s example.  First of all, it was “illegal” for her to approach and touch a prophet or man of God since her hemorrhage made her ceremonially unclean according to the Law of Moses.  Whoever she touched would become unclean for a day, which meant that God would see them as unclean and their prayers would go unanswered (so the logic went).  So it took a lot of courage for her to enter the middle of a crowd and push her way toward Jesus; if anyone recognized her or discovered that she was bleeding, she would have been severely criticized and driven away, maybe even physically harmed.  Besides that, she must have felt weak because of her loss of blood.  But in spite of all these real obstacles, she decided to push her way through the fear and uncertainty and weakness because what she wanted was worth any sacrifice or pain that she would have to endure.  This type of attitude always impresses God, drawing us close to Him.

Secondly, this woman determined beforehand what was going to happen when she touched Jesus’ cloak.  She kept repeating the phrase, “If I only touch his clothes, I will be healed.”  This is real faith!  There was no doubt in her words, no room for argument or “what ifs.”  She decided that if she was able to get close enough to touch Him, there was no way she would not be healed.  And so, when she did actually touch Him, even before He knew she was there, while His back was turned, power left His body and she knew that she was healed.  Her audacious step of faith created a vacuum that God’s power immediately filled, and the spirit of infirmity that had troubled her body, finances, and spirit for twelve long years was finally defeated.  Having the courage to determine what is going to happen by faith is also an attitude that God cannot ignore.

An interesting note is that Mark did not use the normal word for healing in the recounting of this story.  Rather he chose a work that doubles for “heal” and “save.”  This woman was not only asking for the healing of her hemorrhage, she was asking for Jesus to “save” her.  After twelve long, hard years of illness, of neighbors turning their backs, of spending money on fruitless doctors’ visits, she must have felt beaten up physically and spiritually, and so she not only needed healing, she needed salvation too.  What an amazing walk home she must have had… a new person inside and out!

Today’s promise is: If we only touch Jesus, we will be healed.  But we can’t touch Him in an ordinary, casual way.  We need to reach out to Him with courage and determination, with the full assurance that we will not go home the same.

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