Summary: The lady with chronic bleeding stole a cure from Jesus, who commends her great faith. We learn from her to come as you are to Jesus, believe the impossible, and receive Jesus' healing. True faith never limits God but is open to whatever God wants to do.
Stealing a Cure
I meet a lot of Veterans at the VA who are in chronic pain. Some of you are in chronic pain. You have hurt for so long you don’t remember what it is like NOT to hurt. Sometimes you allow that pain to drive you AWAY from God. “Why won’t you take this away? Why won’t you heal me?” I’m going to suggest today that you allow that pain to drive you TO God, not away from him. Let’s learn from the woman in today’s story. First, if you want to “steal a cure,”
1. Come as you are
This woman had been bleeding chronically for twelve long years. Her condition made her perpetually “unclean” in Jewish law. This meant that she couldn’t be around other people. She had to shop alone. She had to eat her meals alone. She couldn’t go to church or any other gathering. She had to stand at a distance from everyone else. If she was married, her husband could divorce her since she couldn’t have children. If she wasn’t yet married, no man would want her as his wife. She had to announce her unclean status whenever others approached. It was a terribly lonely state to be in, socially unacceptable, kind of like the walking dead.
Yet, she came as she was to Jesus. Verse 27 says, “When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.” She violated Jewish law to be in the crowd in the first place. And to touch a holy man, a rabbi, that would render him unclean for the day as well, which could bring her a strong reprimand. She was taking a great risk here, a risk of rejection, which tells us something of her desperate state. She was absolutely desperate for a cure! And she got one.
Think about this: Jewish thinking of the time said if unclean meets clean, then unclean contaminates clean, and clean becomes unclean. That was why she was doomed to a life of quarantine, of excommunication. Yet, she came as she was to Jesus. And this time, when unclean met clean, clean made unclean ... CLEAN!
That is what Jesus does for each of us. Billy Graham’s autobiography is entitled, “Just as I am.” His consistent preaching message over time was, “You come to God just as you are. You don’t try to get cleaned up first. Why? Because none of us can get clean enough for God. We are all sinners. Our best hope, our only hope, is to come to him just as we are. Bring all your sin to him, all your needs to him, all your worries to him, and allow him to clean you: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. The Apostle Paul described the interchange that happens when unclean meets clean in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We who are unclean come to Clean, and Clean makes us clean.
Folks, let your desperation drive you TO God, not away from God. Throw yourself at the heels of Jesus. Reach out to the hem of his robe. Bring everything you have to the one who is our Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. And allow him to purify you, body, mind, and soul. And when you come, like the lady in the story,
2. Believe the impossible
Catch her motivation. Why did she take such social and legal risks to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment? Verse 28 tells us: “Because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’” And verse 29 gives us the result: “Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
This woman had tried it all! Every doctor, every cure, every mail-in magazine ad, every online promise, every prescription drug, every over-the-counter med, every herb and vitamin, every procedure, every exercise. And nothing had worked. In fact, she just got worse! You know, sometimes you can see the personality of the gospel writers behind the prose, how God used real people to preserve these accounts for us. This story is in all three gospels. If you look at Luke the doctor’s account, you notice that he is a little softer on the doctors. He leaves out the part about her just getting worse with their help! But some of you know that feeling: you do everything you’re told, and nothing improves; in fact, it just gets worse.
There is something about this woman’s faith that catches the eye. She just knew that all she had to do was touch Jesus. She didn’t need his attention. She didn’t need his touch on her. She didn’t need his time. She just needed to touch him, and that would be enough. The people back then had some supernatural beliefs about the touch of a holy man, what that touch could do. Just as people today are sometimes impressed with the touch of someone famous. Yet, there was more to this woman than superstition. Evidently, she realized that Jesus was the real deal. He was God’s man. And she knew, she just knew that God could heal her. And God did, evidently even without Jesus’ conscious participation.