“…your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
– Luke 8:48
The story found in Luke chapter 8 about a woman healed of her bleeding is one that most people from a church background are familiar with. We have heard it referenced in sermons, and maybe have read through it a few times.
I was in the same boat, never really giving pause to this story, until after I was saved. I remember reading the story’s account in the gospel of Mark a few months after my salvation and it hitting me like a glorious ton of bricks. What I saw in that moment was that I was once just a person in the crowd, but now I’m the one who has been healed!
It was not long ago that I finally sat down and dove into this passage and spent some time studying and writing on it. What a joy it was and I’m very excited to get to share it here in a 5 part series.
Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.
As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” – Luke 8:40–48
When we read these verses in Luke 8:40–48, we can see them on the surface for what they are, Jesus using his divine power to heal a women’s physical suffering.
This woman has been suffering for 12 years from a condition that could not be corrected in her body, and Jesus simply altered her physical state to heal her. He did not preform a surgery or prescribe a medication, but by His power, changed her from incurable to cured. What a display of his power over creation!
While this event alone is enough to capture our awe, I believe there is something beyond the miraculous physical healing for us to see displayed here. That is what I aim to draw out and show in this series. To turn the diamond of scripture and let us see this story through a different facet. To look at this, we need to take a moment and think on what Jesus’s ability to physically heal means.
In the gospel accounts of Jesus’s life we see several times his power to heal and restore physically by overpowering sickness, infirmities, and disease. But why is he showing us this?
It is certainly an affirmation of his divine nature, but I think there is another layer to it. Think of where sickness, infirmities, and disease come from? In the beginning death was not part of God’s creation. Then in Genesis chapter three we see death introduced as the world is broken by the effects of sin.
Do people die from sickness and disease? Of course they do. Every sickness and death faced in this world is a direct result of a broken world that our sin has created. The effects of sin start to kill us from the day we are born, and in this story we see Christ’s power over those effects in the physical healing of this woman. That is the facet that I want to look through as we walk through this story. To see God’s power to heal the brokenness our sin creates.
As we do this, I will go through the various elements of this story and try unpack the people involved and the events that took place as we look at this story in a way that perhaps we have not before.
The Crowd (The Unbelievers)
The crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him… As Jesus went, the people pressed around him.
Why were these people here?
Perhaps the crowd was intrigued and curious about Jesus. Perhaps they came to be entertained or maybe it was fascination. Perhaps some wanted something from Jesus, or to see him do something miraculous.
There is a good chance these people had heard of or even seen some of the amazing things that Jesus had been doing, and for whatever reason they were there, I’m confident in saying it was not out of a desire for Christ. Rather it is likely out of infatuation with his power or a desire for what he may do in their midst.
Why is this important? Because we see the same situation today. Many people are intrigued by Christ and are interested in him. Some even see him as the potential relief of their ailments. Perhaps he is a salve to comfort their guilty conscience. They see him as a social experiment, or an additive to their existing philosophy or belief system.
There are many people that want the benefits and awe of Christ, without wanting Christ himself. RC Sproul’s sharing of Thomas Aquinas’ observations expounds on this:
“Thomas Aquinas [observed] that to the naked eye it may seem that unbelievers are searching for God or seeking for the kingdom of God, while they are in fact fleeing from God with all of their might. What Aquinas observed was that people who are unconverted seek the “benefits” that only God can give them, such as ultimate meaning and purpose in their lives, relief from guilt, the presence of joy and happiness, and things of this nature.” – RC Sproul
In this world, and within our churches, there are many people that are all over and around Jesus. People standing right next to him, but with hearts and minds far from him. They seek nothing of him for the sake of who he is, only for what he can offer. They worship his promises and provisions as their idols, and could do without the provider of them.
I’ve seen this type of thinking first hand, not only in my life, but in my son’s also. It used to be that every time he was going to see my parents, he knew some sort of gift or toy was sure to be there also. It was not long till his excitement to see them was not to be with them and enjoy them, but to receive and enjoy a thing. His love for going to see them, was not a love for them, but a selfish love for himself.
There will be many people in churches this weekend that want to sit and play with a shinny new toy, one that will likely be losing its appeal within a day or two after leaving, rather than sitting, standing, singing, listening, or praying in awe of the one who loves them. The one who can meet the deepest needs of their heart and satisfy them forever!
One of the main reasons for this is we see ourselves as the most beautiful and desirable thing in the universe. But when your eyes are opened to see the glory of God, in his holiness, you see how undesirable, sinful, broken, and dead you are. That is when Christ’s beauty shines forth, in his ability to forgive sin, and make us alive!
Sadly however, the North American church is full of people that have never seen Christ. But they come wanting his benefits, just as this crowed in Luke 8 did. We see people who were the same way in the scripture.
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. – Mark 10:17-22
The rich young ruler did not come wanting Christ, he came wanting to gain eternal life while also keeping his idol close to his heart. Jesus does not call people to come to him and bring their idols along for the ride. He calls us to repent from their sin, to destroy the things that will never satisfy us, and to run to that which will forever meet our deepest needs.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:57-62
Jesus turned away the half hearted. We cannot come to him on our own standards, telling God what following him will be like. We do not assert ourselves over him, no, we come to him willing to abandon all for him, because he is everything to us!
Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. –Psalm 73:25-26
This is the attitude of the believer! The one who says I don’t long for the benefits that help me here on this earth, I long for you Christ!
There is nothing wrong with enjoying the benefits of a relationship with God, however if you want the benefits without the relationship, there is huge problem. And that relationship with him is not one that we enter in on our own terms. It is through a genuine repentance from our sin, and following of Christ for who he is, the glorious King of Kings!