14 June 2010

Jesus Cleans the Unclean

Luke 8:40-48

What do we truly know about ourselves?  What do we truly believe about Jesus?  Is what we have done consistent with our stated answers to those two questions?

As we have already seen, faith is addressed a lot in Jesus' ministry.  What is faith?  The writer of Hebrews defines it as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  The Christian faith is the assurance that Jesus came so that we may have life and have it in abundance.  The Christian faith is the conviction that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

As the old saying goes, "Talk is cheap."  It is easy to tell people what we believe, but it is entirely another to live what we tell others what we believe.  Do we believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life?  Do we really believe that Jesus is the one who was sent to save us?  Is he the Messiah?

This is why the account of the faithful woman who suffered from bleeding for 12 years is such an important account.  According to the Law, anyone who had a bodily discharge of any kind were to be away from the general population because they were unclean while that discharge was occuring.  This may seem like a cruel law, but it was made for the health of the general population.  Today, we would call this quarantine.

According to Dr Luke, people had tried to cure the woman of her hemorrhaging without success.  What hope must have filled her heart when she heard about this new teacher who healed all manner of ailments.  She came to believe that Jesus could heal her.  If she could ask him, he would heal her.

But there was a problem, she wasn't the only one who wanted to see Jesus.  By now, what Jesus was doing was known throughout the region.  And, just as the woman must have feared, there was an entire crowd pressing around Jesus when he returned from his journey across the Sea of Galilee.

What could she do?  She wasn't allowed to be around others and certainly not in a pressing crowd.  If someone discovered her and found out that she was hemorrhaging, she would be found guilty of breaking the law and endangering the public.  She would be punished possibly to the point of death.  She knew Jesus could heal her, but she didn't know how he would react to what she had to do to get to him.

She apparently had so much faith in the healing power of Jesus that she knew that all she had to do was touch him.  Nobody, not even Jesus, had to know that she was there.  She would bravely go low through the crowd and touch him and she would be healed from her twelve years of isolated suffering.  In this respect the crowd is an advantage since all kinds of people were touching Jesus, so surely he wouldn't notice.

She had faith in Jesus.  We know she had faith because of what she did and what she risked.  She was right in her faith and she was healed.  But, she was also wrong and he did notice.  Being caught by Jesus, she had to confess what she did and why she did it.  What relief must have filled her heart when she heard after she begged Jesus for mercy, "Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace."

After he said those words, her faith in Jesus grew stronger because she truly understood who he was.

What do we truly know about ourselves? What do we truly believe about Jesus? Has what we have done consistent with our stated answers to those two questions?

Father, I want to believe.  Please help me with my unbelief.

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