A Touch Brings New Life
Psalm 139:1-6 Hebrews 10:19-25 Luke 12:40- 48
Look at your hands for a moment. God has placed within those hands the power for you to bring new life into the lives of others through a simple touch. A touch on the shoulder of one who’s discouraged, brings new life. A touch in the hand of one whose afraid brings New Life. A touch on the back of one who is stumbling backwards, brings stability and new life. All of human life begins with a touch of something to small for us to see with the naked eye. The touch of a sperm and an egg, brings about possibilities that only God could dream of making into reality.
We are celebrating the touch of the power God in giving birth to a new church. We have spent the last few weeks in labor pains in order to bring forth this new part of the kingdom of God today. Every child has a personality uniquely its own. Every church will be different from every other church. The vision of New Life is to touch people and to empower them with new life by bringing them into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus made the declaration once, I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly. It’s not God’s will for us to view life as something to be dreaded, but rather as a gift from God with unlimited possibilities for God to work in and through us. Jesus’ gift of life is not something reserved simply for heaven. His life is available to change people today. He brings new life offering it to anyone who wants to make a change.
One day Jesus was very busy and there was a large crowd around him. But in the midst of this assembly was a man whose daughter was in need of a touch from Jesus. He begged Jesus to please come and go with him because his daughter of just twelve years of age was very ill. The man’s name was Jarius and he was a leader in one of synagogues. When Jesus saw this man and heard his plea his heart was moved to compassion, and he got up to go and bring new life into the heart of Jarius and into the life of his daughter.
New Life Fellowship is to be a church, that no matter how large it gets, it will always have compassion for the one. One person’s pain will always be felt in the heart of God. Jesus left the abundance of the crowd because a 12 year old girl was sick. He gave up the opportunity to speak to thousands, just to go and see about a little girl whose name we never even learn. I wonder what became of that child. Everybody matters to God. When God calls you to do a work for him, remember it does not have to be something that everybody else calls great. Just as Jesus was sent to leave the group, for the one, you may likewise receive that call in order to bring new life into the lives of others with your touch.
As Jesus went on his way, he could hardly get to her because the crowd was hindering his movement. The Scriptures tell us they were pressing in on Jesus so tightly that they were crushing him. The sad thing is they were crushing Jesus, but not touching him. Oh yes they had their hands reaching out to touch him, much as people do today when they go wild over some music star, or political personality, or some movie star. Some consider it a badge of honor to say, "oh I touched so and so." Jesus never came to be considered a super star, for us to brag about as though he was merely a Michael Jordan or a Tom Cruise or a Janet Jackson. No Jesus is only important to those who know that deep down inside they have a need in their lives that only he can fill.
New Life Fellowship will never be a place of superstars. Ministry here will always be team ministry. The goal is not to simply fill up pews and have the crowds be entertained. Our goal is to bring people into the reality that it is not enough to simply see Jesus at a distance or to admire him from afar. Just like Jarius came to Jesus and said Lord, I have a need will you come with me to my house. We expect people to come to worship because they have a need in their lives. They come with the expectation of taking Jesus home with them to bring new life into their situations.
Jarius had a religious background and was considered an outstanding member in the community. He was held in high esteem by others. He was a ruler of the synagogue. But those things were not what got Jesus’ attention. Jesus focused on Jarius because Jarius knew that he had a need that only Jesus could feel and he had faith that a touch from Jesus could make all the difference in the world.
On that same day, there was a woman in the crowd whom we will call Angela. Angela was a woman who was physically weak, emotionally tired and financially bankrupt. She had been suffering from a flow of blood for the past twelve years going from doctor to doctor in search of a new life but finding none. To add to her physical comfort was the declaration by the law that her flow of blood made her unclean spiritually.
As an unclean person she could not utilitze the gift of touch God had placed within her hands because for her to touch someone, she would make them unclean. For anyone to use their power of touch upon Angela would make the person unclean. For it says in Lev 15:25-27 "’When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. Whoever touches them will be unclean; he must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening.
She could not simply just talk to any old body about her medical condition because it was a private and personal matter. There she was in the midst of the crowd. If the people had of known it was her in the crowd, they would have yelled all kinds of insults at her to get away from them. This woman had done all she could for her situation. It had been going on for 12 years, and she had spent every last dollar she had on medical bills. There was nowhere else for her to turn.
At the same time Jarius and his wife were celebrating the wonderful gift of joy in the birth of their new daughter, Angela was beginning a 12 year period or agony and nightmare in her life. But some twelve years later, this outstanding leader in the community and this social and religious outcast are converging on the same Jesus for help. At the foot of the cross everybody stands on equal grounds.
New Life Fellowship is to be a place with its doors open to everybody who recognizes a need for Jesus Christ. We want to be a church where money and social status is not of significance nor a requirement of ministry. We want to be a place where the color of your skin is neither an advantage or disadvantage when it comes to being used by God. We believer its possible to see people as sisters and brothers in Christ, without the distinctions the world would have us to embrace. In a city as divided by race as we are, one of the gifts we can model is that in the eyes of God race does not matter. Our goal is for this to be an interracial church. If we need to change our music to include Hispanics, Asians, Blacks and Whites, then let’s do it. Everything is up for change except what’s spelled out in the word of God.
We will not consider anyone to be too good for us and certainly no one is to bad for us. Like the woman Angela coming to Jesus, we all realize we have some issues that are going to need to be changed. Christ offers us new life, and that means living in a way we have not lived in the past.
Angela believed in the power of touch. She had not reached out and touched anyone in so long of a period of time, but she believed in her heart, if she could just touch Jesus things would change. Others may have put her down and shouted unclean, but she believed Jesus would receive her uncleanness and all. She wanted a change. She wanted new life. Jesus and faith will not do us much good without being open to changing our situation.
It cost Angela to fight her way to get to the spot where Jesus was coming. If she had of done nothing, she probably would have died with that flow of blood. If she had simply sat back and prayed, it would not have changed her condition. Angela needed to see where was Jesus, and how do I get to him. She did not care what others might think. She did not care if others thought she ought not to be there. Her goal was to get to Jesus and to just touch Him.
She struggled through the crowd and pushed folks as well as any man could have and made it to Jesus. She had to catch up from behind to get to Jesus. The moment she touched the edge of Jesus’ cloak, she felt a power go through her and her bleeding instantly stopped. She found the New Life that she had been looking for for the past 12 years. Just a touch from Jesus made all the difference. You may be struggling with some kind of an addiction today, but I want you to know that a touch from Jesus can make all the difference in what the rest of your life is going to be like.
Not only did she feel the touch, Jesus also felt the touch. He felt the power of love and compassion reach out of his body to extend new life. He immediately asked the question "Who Touched Me." Looking around, the crowd that was pressing around him had pushed him beyond Angela’s reach. And though many people were reaching out to touch him, when Jesus’ asks this question with such authority they become afraid and deny that they had touched Him.
Even the disciples are somewhat annoyed by the question. Peter enlightens Jesus on the situation. "Jesus what are you talking about. Don’t you see all these people here are pressing on you. What do you mean who touched you. They are all touching you."
It is so important to see that you can be right in the presence of Jesus and be touching him without ever really touching him. Jesus is going to be present in every worship service at New Life Fellowship, but whether or not you touch Him will be dependent on how you come to worship. When you come with a sense of need, you will touch Him. But if you come just to come, you might say oh it was a nice service, but that’s all you will get.
Jesus looked back at Peter and said, "now wait a minute Peter. I know exactly what I’m talking about. Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me." Jesus had a reason for making such a big deal out of this. He knew who it was that had touched Him, and why it was she had touched Him. For years Angela had lived in the shadow of society, not wanting to be identified or known. She has experienced one of the greatest moments of her life. What thoughts race through her mind. Is Jesus going to rebuke her for an unauthorized touch? Is he going to ask her for payment?
Her initial joy is replaced with an overwhelming sense of fear. She comes forward trembling. The moment someone recognizes her, they probably whisper "it’s that unclean woman, she touched Jesus. No wonder he asked the question." Whispers and murmurs rush through the crowd. Angela falls at the feet of Jesus and she tells her whole life story. She then gets to the part of touching Jesus and how she had instantly been healed. No doubt tears running down her face. But she gave her testimony of the goodness of God in her life.
New Life Fellowship is to be place where everybody can tell their story of how they encountered Jesus. Even when we are afraid to share our faith, we want to be like Angela where the goodness of God, out weighs the fear that may be in us. Jesus wanted to be the confirmation to Angela’s testimony. You see if she had not have come to Jesus and confessed up, she would have gone away with all the social stigma and religious stigma that she had come to Jesus with that afternoon. People would have still referred to her as that unclean woman. But by giving a public testimony she declared where it was she stood in terms of her faith. She was not going to be a secret follower of Jesus from a distance. When we come together as a church, somebody ought to have a testimony of what the Lord has done for them.
Jesus looked at this woman who had just received new life and said "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." All those other touches of Jesus that took place that day were missing the faith, that Jesus was going to make a difference in their lives. All those other people had been content just looking at Jesus. But Angela wanted more than just a look. The Angela’s faith was rewarded, wonderfully so. Her faith caused Jesus to meet her face to face; her faith in Christ brought her new life. She was called, “Daughter.” This was the only time Jesus ever called a woman, “Daughter.” What a distinct privilege! It meant she had become a child of God’s. The phrase "has healed you" is a translation of the word that means “to be saved.” (Healing is a symbol of salvation; see 5:20-26.) So, she had a healed body and a saved soul, and she went out in peace, all because of His word brought on by a touch.
Jesus took time out to care for a woman, that everybody else had pretty much written off because He loved her. In that brief period of time of dealing with Angela, word came to Jarius not to bother Jesus any longer because his daughter had died. But not even death can stop Jesus from providing new life. Jesus saw the pain and discomfort that welled up in Jarius when he got the news. Jesus told him, don’t be afraid, just believe and she will be healed.
When Jesus arrived on the scene, he told the people to stop the wailing because the little girl was only asleep. These professional mourners laughed at him, but Jesus ignored them. Jesus took Peter, James, John, Jarius and Jarius’ wife into the room where the little girl lay dead. He took his hand and touched the little girl’s hand and said, "My child get up." Her spirit returned to her and at once she stood up. New Life had entered her body through the touch of Jesus Christ. Jesus called Angela his daughter. He calls this little girl, my child . Both were fully included in the family of God.
The little girls parents were astonished at what Jesus had done in raising their daughter. But Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. He did this so that this child could have a normal life, rather than be pegged as a celebrity who was risen from the dead. Jesus does not necessarily need superstars to build his kingdom. He wants ordinary people who are willing to surrender themselves to the power of God.
New Life Fellowship is going to be a place where all of God’s children can come together in worship because of what Jesus has done in their lives. God has you here today with an opportunity to make your life count for God. The birth of this church is going to bring new life into the lives of many people as we lead them to Jesus Christ. God needs people who are willing to reach out and touch others as well as people who realized they need to be touched. We need you to make a difference. There is a tremendous future ahead for this church. What role is God going to have you fulfill to equip and enable you to be a giver of new life.