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Summary: Reach through the crowds of life toward Jesus.

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Reach out to Jesus

By Pastor Scott Jensen

Matthew 9:20-22

(also Mark 5:25-34 and Luke 8:43-47)

Introduction

In a popular “Saturday Night Live comedy” skit, one of the characters, Stuart Smalley, attempted to console people as they struggled with their issues and dilemmas. In one of the more popular skits, he attempted to counsel Michael Jordan, the famous basketball player, with a non-existent struggle with his athletic ability. In each of the skits, a celebrity guest was “assisted” with advice on how to conduct a self-help program and get back on track. However, by the end of the skit, it was Stuart who was being consoled for his own struggles with inadequacy. He never seemed to feel qualified for the situation at hand. But, even with his own struggles, he always closed this skit with an interesting phrase, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, dog gone it, people like me.”

Today, we’re going to look at another person who struggled with feelings of inadequacy, and the faith she displayed to overcome this obstacle. In the Gospel message read a moment ago, we heard of a woman who struggled with illness for twelve years, fought through the crowds, touched the robe of Jesus, and was healed. I’d like to take a closer look at this faithful woman and the challenges she faced.

The woman in the story was apparently in a hopeless situation. For 12 years she had fought with bleeding that could not be controlled. Levitical law considered a woman who was bleeding to be unclean. Not only her person, but much of what she touched as well. A married woman would not be able to sleep next to her husband, let alone have married relations with her spouse. What she touched would have to be ceremonially washed and sanctified. Because of this, no-one wanted her to touch anything and spread her “dirtiness.” In the eyes of the Jewish people, she was an outcast and treated as such.

The law required her to be scorned by society, excluded from her family and even barred from her husband. In a world where she was only allowed to socialize with Jews, she was denied regular conversations with friends, less they also become unclean. She couldn’t receive a hug to make her feel better. She couldn’t kiss her husband goodnight. She couldn’t touch the ones she loved. She was barred from church and not allowed to participate in temple activities as one had to be clean before going to prayer. Instead, she was condemned to a life of loneliness, segregated to the wayside and scorned by society. Repeatedly she was reminded that she was unclean, dirty, cut-off from society, excluded from family, excommunicated from her church and unworthy to take part in any daily activity with others.

Given this type of hopeless situation, she likely saw every doctor and healer that was available to cure this sickness. She tried home remedies. She sought far and wide for relief. But, no cure was discovered to remove her illness or ease the pain of loneliness. There was no hope to find a cure for her disease and no foreseeable way for it to end.

Unacceptable and lonely, it’s certain that she was severely depressed. Her self-esteem was low. She was nothing. She was un-important. What a way to go through life. No family. No friends. No church. No hope. She was alone and lonely in a world that would not interact with her.

She wasn’t allowed to be around people because of her unclean status and should not have been near any people as she was. She took a chance by going against Levitical law and making the crowd unclean. She humbled herself and fought against the grain to get to Jesus. That was her only hope. You can just image what she must have been thinking. “If only I can reach him, I will be healed. If I can just touch his robe, my illness will leave me. He has the answers to my prayers. Only through him will my problems of loneliness and grief be removed. Only through him will my life get back on track. Only through him can I hope to be loved again.”

This poor woman needed healing: physical, mental and emotional. She needed to be restored and strengthened. She needed a cure and she knew that Jesus could give her that cure. Wow, now that’s faith!

We all have needs

Just like the woman, each, in our own way, requires something to complete us. We have desires. We have goals. Now, our needs might not be as physical as the woman’s in the gospel, but they can be just as pressing on our mind and just as devastating emotionally.

Some of us might be struggling with loneliness as we endure separation from our loved ones. Some of us might be struggling with relationship issues that are bearing heavy on our hearts. Some of us might be struggling with habits and addictions that might be causing even other issues in our lives. Medical problems, financial problems, work related problems. Loneliness and despair. Many of you may have experienced these at one time or another in your life. Some may be dealing with these problems now. Some of these problems may even be caused by other people or even our environment. Sometimes, it’s difficult to see a way out of the situation.

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