HUNGER FOR GOD 9b May 27 Faith and Spiritual Passion
Faith and Spiritual Passion
A few weeks back, when I went to pick Erin up from William and Mary, it had been one of those days that had begun with a 6:30am meeting, followed by a brief office visit; followed by a presentation to a group of pastors which finally put me in, Williamsburg about 2pm. Erin was all ready, but we still had to load the vehicle, and as glad as I was to see Erin, it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't eaten anything since the day prior at lunch.
As a consequence, that ¾ of an hour we loaded became fairly miserable. Of course, I didn't tell Erin, but McDonalds was calling my name, and when the clown got quiet, Wendy's woke up. But you know how it is when it's been 24 hours or more since you've eaten and it hits you...man you just can't get food off your mind. So as we left, I was looking for the first place to stop, because at that point, fast food looked like five star gourmet, because I was hungry.
Because you see, when you’re really hungry, only food matters. It dominates because the craving begins to take over. And hunger recognizes only one thing, and that is the source of its satisfaction.
And indeed one of the reasons we don't pursue Christ as we should, is because we're just not hungry enough yet. Because when you're real hungry, only the source of the satisfaction matters.
In our Gospel text, we have the story of a hungry woman who has some issues. In fact, our text says for 12 years the woman had experienced hemorrhaging... or "an issue of blood" as it says in some versions. So what were the issues faced by this woman? Well, first she had physical issues for 12 years she had been bleeding, and if you are constantly bleeding, you are also weak.
But she not only has physical issues, but she also has financial issues, because according to verse 26 she had consulted many physicians and spent all she had. So her physical issues led to financial issues and now she is a poor woman in poor health.
But she also had social issues, because you see in that day, when you shed blood according to Old Testament Law, you were considered unclean and so was anyone who touched her. Therefore, you were isolated from society. F or the average woman, this was necessary only one time per month, for this woman it was all the time. So for 12 years, she has also been isolated.
Now, if you have physical issues, and financial issues, and social issues, I can assure you, you can just go ahead and add psychological issues, because that kind of stuff messes with your mind. I mean tell me, who lives with constant financial distress and doesn't get depressed? Tell me who lives with bad health and never gets down? Tell me who lives cut off socially and doesn't get discouraged?
Finally, she had spiritual issues. I mean, where was God? Where is God when day after day, week after week, month after month you are going through one issue right after another! Have you ever known someone for whom life was an issue? I mean you see them coming and you say, "My, my here comes Issue." Just everything about them is wrong. In fact, you just want to go the other way. And if there is one thing that is for sure here, it's the fact that this woman is defiled, destitute, and desperate, because all of life had shut down.
Now before we go on, it is very important that I set this story up, that is, what happened before, during, and after.
Let's start at verse 21: VV 21-24. It is at this point of intersection between Jesus and this synagogue official that we have the encounter between this woman and Jesus. So please notice some interesting comparisons. First of all, we aren't ever told the name of this woman, don't have a clue. But we know the name of this official, his name was Jairus. What is more. this man had money, she had none; this man had popularity, she was a nobody. This is the context of this story.
Now look at verse 27, it says, "After hearing about Jesus... " - word had gotten out that Jesus was in town. Now when you've already spent all your money, been to every doctor and tried every specialist, maybe its time to try Jesus. She heard Jesus was in town, so... "she came up in the crowd behind Him..." Why would you want to be seen if you're unclean. Maybe this is one of your bleeding days, and it could be a very embarrassing moment. So why
would you want to be seen? So she sneaks up behind Him the text says, and.. _ "she touched His cloak."
Now, why does she do this? Well the text tells us in the next verse: V28
Now this is heavy, so hang in here, the woman is thinking, "Nothing else works, don't have any money. life is ruin. but if I can just get close to Jesus, if I can just touch His garment, it will turn my whole situation around and deal with my issues."
You mean Jesus can do what medical science can't; you mean Jesus can do what the bankers can't fix; you mean Jesus can do what the psychologist has been unable to unravel; yes, if I can only get to Jesus and touch His garment... Now why His garment? Why not all of Jesus?
Well, to understand this question, it is necessary to look at the whole story. And this story is recorded in all three of what are known as the Synoptic Gospels. The Synoptic Gospels are Matthew Mark and Luke. John's Gospel has a whole other purpose that is to show you clearly that Jesus is God. The Synoptic Gospels however, have as their purpose to tell you about the historical Jesus. So they very often tell the exact same story, but from different perspectives. As such it becomes the preachers job to harmonize these stories so that we get a multi-dimensional story.
And with this story, when you harmonize the Gospels, you find that she didn't just want to touch His garment, she wanted to touch the hem of His garment, lOWs, the lowest part of His garment. Now, what's so significant about that?
Well to touch the hem of anything you've got to get low. These were long flowing garments, so in order for her to get to His hem, she had to get to her knees. And so if you're serious about coming to Christ, you've got to know how to get low. That is to come in humility and dependency and not in pride and arrogance. She has to get low.
But there's something else about the hem. In Jewish law the men were to see to it that their garments were hemmed with four tassels. It's described in NUMBERS 15 where it says: VV 38-40. In other words, it is to remind you that you are a part of the covenanted community of God that lives under the commands of God so that you understand completely that you don't belong
to you. YOU belong to God. In other words the hem of a garment was theological not decorative.
And so it says in our Gospel, when that woman had lost everything: money, health, friends, emotional and psychological stability, she said, "Let me get to that hem."
Now what is the connection? She believed, since the hem is representative of God's commandments based on God's covenant, and since God said in His covenant if you come to Me, based on My commandment, I will heal your sicknesses, I will prosper you, and I will lift you up, she saw in the hem her answer. But she didn't want just any hem, she wanted the hem of Jesus, because she understood, if I can only get the written word from the Living Word, my life will be totally transformed.
So whenever you get, this Word... with that Word... you will have every word you need to face any issue in life you are facing. She wanted to touch the hem of His garment. She realized He held the key to her deliverance, she realized He held the key to her transformation. She realized her circumstance would not have the last word if she could get to the hem of His garment.
So, in an act of faith, look what she does... she defies the Law, because in Leviticus 15 it says if you have an issue of blood, do not touch anyone or you will make them unclean. So how dare she, an unclean woman, come up to the spotless Son of God, how dare this woman defy the Old Testament Law in order to touch Jesus. Where does she get the audacity?!
Because some how, she understood that in Jesus, Grace is greater than Law. She understood that the Law came from Moses, but grace and truth came from Jesus. The Law says, "Don't touch." Jesus says, "Come unto Me all you who are heavy laden. and I will give you rest."
So, in an act of faith. .. contaminated, poor, and dirty, with nobody even knowing her name, she touches Jesus. In a supernatural act of faith she believed, "If I get the written word-God's covenanted promised-together with a living touch-with a living Christ-it will be transforming to my life. And as proof, 1 'm going to take the risk to go get it." Because with Christ I can make it.
One of the darlings of the 2000 Olympics was Laura Wilkerson. Laura Wilkerson was the high platform diver representing the U.S. But what many people don't know is, prior to her competition she had broken three bones in her foot.
Now, you can't spring off a board with a broken foot, but she said I've worked too long and too hard not to go to the Olympics. So as they were interviewing her, they asked her, "How do you expect to compete when you've broken three bones in your foot?" And when she answered, I was flabbergasted, she said, "The way I expect to compete is because 1 can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
She began the last day of the competition #8, I mean she was just out of the metal running. Even so, in pain and in anguish, she dives. But as the day went on, now she is #3 with one dive left. So she comes up to her last dive, bows her head, prays, and hits a perfect dive; I mean 9.9, 9.8, 9.5. And now she's not number three, she is number 1. Finally the Chinese dive but are unable to overcome her, and as a result she becomes the first woman since 1964 to win a gold metal representing the U.S. and when asked at the end how she did it. she repeated her previous answer, "1 told you, 1 can do all things through Christ who strengthens Me. "
In other words, she said, at her weakest moment she had to touch the hem of something that would give her strength that she did not possess, so she decided to touch Christ. And this is precisely what the woman in our passage does.
This woman, by an act of faith, when the issues of life had dominated her, reaches out to Christ. Now this leads to a miraculous result: V 29
Now that's two blessings. Not only was her immediate problem solved, the blood flow stopped, but also her permanent problem was solved. But how did she know? She knew it because inside her, there was an inner confirmation that God not only had dried her up but He had also fixed her up. And by the way saints, that is the work of the Holy Spirit to give you inner confirmation about what is done, even before a doctor has told you.
Now Jesus enters the picture verse 30: V 30 Now let me tell you something about this moment: Whenever Jesus asks questions in the Bible, it's not because He is looking for answers. Jesus always asks questions for a
purpose, IOWs to draw something out. Ever have someone ask you a question you know they know the answer to? So Jesus says, "Who touched Me?" And the fools start talking: V 31
Now there's a great lesson here folks. Just because you're a part of the crowd, doesn't mean that you've been with the Savior. Jesus said, "Somebody touched Me, NOT there are a lot of folk around Me." So the question you must answer this morning is, "not are you a part of the crowd, but are you the one at the hem of the garment because that's where the power is: VV 32-33 She knew she was in the presence of greatness and so she trembled.
There is a story told of the day Thomas Jefferson arrived in Washington to assume the vice presidency. He had come on horseback and had traveled for several days and as was his custom, he traveled in the clothes in which he farmed.
So upon his arrival, he truly looked the part of a dirt farmer. So as he entered the fmest hotel of the day to register, the clerk took one look and told him the place for him was Motel 6 where the other farmers stayed.
After he left, the clerk learned of his terrible error. So he wrote a note apologizing and asking Jefferson to return to his hotel. But Jefferson declined, writing, "If you don't have room for an American dirt farmer, you don't have room for the Vice President either."
That clerk didn't know who he was standing with. And I'm afraid that a lot of folk who come to church, don't know WHO they are dealing with either. That a lot of folk who show up don't know Who they are looking at.
Jesus Christ is not just another prophet, not just another way to heaven, not just a good man, Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God Who is here to declare the person and power of God to the people of God, who are willing to touch the hem of His garment.
Jesus said, "Who touched Me? Who drew power out of Me?" So this raises the question, "Why does He want to know? I mean, the woman's better, there is a little girl who is about to die just ahead, so why stop?"
Let me give you several reasons:
# 1 God does not give us a breakthrough in our life, for which He does not want the glory.
lOWs, "Let the redeemed of the Lord, say so!" So if you are fasting and praying for a breakthrough, He ought to get the glory when you get it. The Bible says there were 10 lepers one day, all of them cried have mercy on us! So God healed all 10, but only one remembered to come back, and say thank you. Some of us are not getting future breakthroughs because we haven't said thank you for the breakthroughs we've already had. Why should God give us more blessing iust so we can forget Him more.
People ask God for better jobs and get them... but they don't say thanks, their giving doesn't grow, there has been no tangible expression of gratitude at all, they just want something new! This woman when the Lord calls her, falls down on her face, she obeys Psalm 50 verse 15, which says, when God comes through for you, give him the Glory!
Jesus asks us, "Who touched Me," to see if we are willing to admit publicly the touch of God in our life. In fact, look at what happens when she worships after already having been blessed: V 34
Do you see that first word? What is it? - "Daughter." Didn't we start with her being a nobody? Didn't we start out with nobody knowing her name... with just a poor sick, depressed, socially rejected woman? Now... all of a sudden. . . she's gone from a nobody, to a daughter.
You see when God touches you; you know you're not a nobody anymore. When God touches you, He knows you not only by name, but also by relationship. Those lepers who didn't come back, missed out on relationship! He says to her, daughter you are part of the family now.
But there's a bonus here, Jesus calls her out of a crowd. This woman tries to sneak up to Jesus unseen, but now Jesus calls her out publicly and calls her daughter. In other words, and here's the bonus, Jesus publicly changed her reputation on the spot. Now everybody else had to look at her differently, because Jesus looked at her differently. No longer is she a social outcast, and then Jesus says, "Go in peace."
Now the word "peace" is the word "Salome." Salome is more than just, "have a nice day." Salome is having an ordered, orchestrated, life. When
Jewish people say to each other "Salome," they are asking for deep blessing, they are saying, "May you be calm on the inside, may your family have food on the table, a roof over your head, may your car be working right, may your job be working out, may there be no fighting in Israel, in other words may all your life be ordered, and organized, and laid out, and may you be at rest." So when we share the peace here at Apostles, you remember that.
Jesus not only healed her body, but placed on her a blessing to straighten out her life. So Jesus says, "Let's get this thing out in the public so I can do all I want to do."
But remember, we didn't start with the woman. In fact: V 35 Can you imagine what went through Jarius' mind? He comes to Jesus for help, Jesus agrees, but He's moving slowly, and then He stops and talks to this "nobody"! In other words, "Jesus, by You giving this woman her blessing, it caused me to miss out on mine!"
Have you ever felt like that? "Lord, why are You helping everybody but me?! Because sometimes it does indeed look like God is remembering everybody else, but has forgotten you. That's the situation.
But that's why Jesus made this whole thing public, because that only increased the faith of J aims to believe that the God who dealt with the person who got in the way, is the same God who can deal with you when things get worse. That's why the story continues: V 36
"I know things look worse, but you just keep believing!" Because sometimes God delays so He can do an even greater miracle in your life. For what is greater - healing a dying daughter, or healing a dead daughter?
What Jesus wants you to know is that He has got you covered. Sometimes we do wonder why is Jesus blessing everybody else but hasn't gotten to my house yet, and my things are getting worse? Why-because He wants to do a greater thing when He arrives, He wants to do a greater thing when He shows up.
So don't throw in the towel on Jesus just because He hasn't arrived at your house yet, He has something in store for you, you just make sure, like the woman, you're at the hem of His garment.