Summary: Our reaching out and touching Christ can profoundly change our lives and the lives of those around us. Would we care to step out of our circumstances, cultural and societal pressures, relying on God in faith to do the impossible for us?
Opening illustration: Healing of a Hindu gentleman [in the Middle-East] who opened his house for prayer and became a Christian at his time of deepest need and crisis.
Introduction: The story of this woman has always fascinated me for nowhere else in the scripture can we find a healing literally stolen from Christ. What we have here is the power of faith, the kind that does not wait for approval. Now, I wonder if there is a place of such faith in our everyday lives today when the norm is an endless petition often with intentions of subduing the heavens into giving in to what we want for ourselves. Others, of course, with courage seek to receive the will of God but nevertheless wait for what God will give. The woman literally grabs it from Christ. She took it without Christ’s permission.
I believe that there really is such a place for that kind of faith in our lives today. However, most important is the discernment of what it is that we want for ourselves. It is never an act of pride to believe that we shall receive when what we wish for ourselves is what God wills. In fact, it is humility of the heart that makes us believe, knowing that He truly loves us, we need nothing more from Him for whatever we wish for ourselves is already ours for the taking.
(A) What does it take to touch God?
1. Our DESPERATION/PROBLEM(s) [v. 25]:
Here was a woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years (an overdue long-lasting problem). According to Jewish law (Leviticus 15:25-27), she was declared to be unclean. That means, she was to be cut off from attending the synagogue service of worship and also cut off from her friendship patterns. She was to be ostracized from being part of Jewish society. We also learn from Biblical historians that the Jewish Talmud describes eleven different cures for this common disease. We can imagine the devastation of being declared unclean for twelve years. That means, she had been living in isolation for a long, long time.
Many people don’t doubt God’s ability to heal; they doubt his willingness to heal someone as “worthless” as themselves.
Illustration: To illustrate the futility of money to solve our problems, author Harvey McKay says: “If you have a problem that money can solve, you don’t have a problem; you have an expense.” We are talking about a problem man can’t solve but God alone.
2. Life CRISIS [v. 26]:
Many people today have similar experiences. That is, many people visit a great variety of doctors, trying to find a cure. Many people today spend much of their money on doctors and become medically poor. Many people today do not get better but worse. In ancient days with ancient medicine, we cannot even begin to imagine the primitiveness of medical treatment and its consuming costs. This woman had spent all of her earnings on medicine and was worse for it.
“Pliny’s Natural History reveals the generally low condition of medical science in the world at that time. Physicians were accustomed to prescribe doses of curious concoctions made from ashes of burnt wolf’s skull, stags’ horns, heads of mice, the eyes of crabs, owl’s brains, the livers of frogs and other like elements. For dysentery powdered horses’ teeth were administered, and a cold in the head was cured by kissing a mule’s nose.”
From Jewish writings, such as the Talmud, we learn of some of these ‘cures’: “One remedy consisted of drinking a goblet of wine containing a powder compounded from rubber, alum and garden crocuses. Another treatment consisted of a dose of Persian onions cooked in wine administered with the summons, ‘Arise out of your flow of blood!’ Other physicians prescribed sudden shock, or the carrying of the ash of an ostrich’s egg in a certain cloth.”
To add insult to injury (literally) this woman was also subjected to tremendous social pressures. The nature of this woman’s illness fell under the stipulations of Leviticus 15, whereby she would have to be pronounced unclean. As such she had been an outcast for twelve years. She could not take part in any religious observances, nor could she have any public contact without defiling those whom she touched. She was also forced to be separated from her husband and abandoned from society.
Last of all, this pathetic woman has lost all of her financial resources. Mark tells us that she had spent all of her money on doctor bills, with no relief - indeed, with added affliction. And in those days, there was no such thing as a malpractice suit. Her problem was beyond extremity.
The lady came to Jesus as a last resort. She had tried everything, every doctor and every possible remedy on earth to cure her. This was her last chance ~ Jesus Himself. She was never disappointed.