Encountering Jesus - One out of the crowd
Encounter with Jesus: One Out of the Crowd (Mark 5:24-34)
There is more than one way to touch the Lord Jesus. Some touch Him superficially. He has always drawn a crowd where He is really present. In that crowd some touch Him inadvertently and some out of mere curiosity. Jesus does not release His power to the merely curious. There is a profoundly personal touch that does contact the healing power of the Lord Jesus. That touch recognizes personal hopelessness and rests everything on His power to make whole.
Out of the suffocating crush of a crowd one desperate woman touched Jesus. He was on His way to help someone else. He always is. Yet we can stop Him with the touch of faith and be healed ourselves. You can come to Jesus with your hopeless situation and touch Him in a way that heals.
You Can Touch Jesus in a Hopeless Situation
Longstanding problems appear to defy solution and discourage us by their very duration. We can touch Jesus with our perpetual problems. This woman had endured twelve years of personal and shameful difficulty. Her loss of life blood may have been constant or intermittent. If it came and went, her hopes were raised and then dashed. Her condition is both revealed and concealed. We cannot be certain what it was other than that it was always a shameful threat. It wasted her health, wealth, and rendered her socially outcast.
We can touch Jesus with our painful problems. This woman suffered many different things, even from those who were supposed to be healing her. She suffered physically and economically. She spent everything she had looking for help. Some of us know what it is to try everything available for spiritual and emotional relief while finding nothing.
We can touch Jesus with our pointless problems. In all her trying she was not helped even at one point. In fact, things only got worse instead of better. The very effort tired her and complicated her condition.
Can you identify with her in the spiritual realm? Many fight long-term battles with stubborn, relentless inclinations, passions, obsessions, fears, anxieties, and guilt. They suffer the pain of mental anguish internally while having to act normally externally. And it all seems pointless. No amount of personal resolution, counsel from friends, or religious activity changes anything. You can approach and touch Jesus from that very situation.
You Can Touch Jesus with a Sufficient but Imperfect Faith
You can touch Jesus with an imperfect faith. The only fitness He requires is to feel your need of Him. This woman's faith was inadequate because it was both silent and superstitious. She thought she could come to Jesus hidden in the crowd and from behind Him so He would never know what happened. Faith must confess Him. Her faith was also superstitious. She actually touched a tassel of Jesus' robe, thinking that His personal power charged His garments with magical potency. Yet Jesus did honor her faith. We cannot wait for more knowledge, perfect understanding, or theological insight before we come to Him. The best faith is imperfect. It is not perfect faith but its perfect object, the Lord Jesus, that makes whole.
We can touch Jesus with an imperfect but sufficient faith. We must come to Him with the personal persuasion, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed" (v. 28). This woman did believe in the personal power of Jesus, although she believed it was in His robe rather than His personal interest in her. The whole of the gospel can be summed up in the desire to touch Him and be made whole.
An imperfect but sufficient faith is rewarded. It is rewarded in fact. Immediately this woman was well. The flow of blood stopped on the spot. But also she was made well in feeling: "she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering" (v. 29). She not only was well, she knew that she was well. She realized inwardly that she was permanently healed and profoundly healed, not only from the symptoms but also from the disease causing them.
Jesus not only wants you to be spiritually whole, but to know it—to know that the threatening failure of yesterday will never return.
Jesus Responds to a Believing Touch
Jesus distinguishes between superficial and meaningful touches. Scholars debate whether this cure was voluntary or involuntary on Jesus' part, whether He knew the woman's condition in advance or not. We cannot settle this. We can know that Jesus is so filled with power to make whole that any touch of personal faith is powerfully rewarded. We must understand the difference between the superficial and meaningful touch. There is always a crowd at church around the name of Jesus. But simply touching the church building, the pew, the activities, and the traditions is not to touch the Lord Jesus Himself. It is not to touch things connected with Him but to touch Him that makes the difference.
Jesus desires that we confess Him when He makes us whole. Jesus looks for our response. He does not desire to save us from ourselves by an impersonal religious transaction. He desires a permanent relationship with those whom He heals. We cannot steal healing behind His back and go away without Him.
We may fear public confession of Christ. This woman feared to identify herself because of her natural inclination. She had a disease that brought her personal shame. Notice that Jesus did not ask her or desire her to state what was wrong with her—He simply wanted her to confess that He had healed her.
The Lord Jesus confirms our wholeness when we confess Him. His public confession won His confirmation: "Your faith has healed you." Hidden discipleship lacks that assurance. But He gave her even more. "Go into peace" [Shalom]" (v. 34). He sent her out with total, personal well-being. He will do the same for you if you touch Him by faith and confess openly His healing.