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Jun 14 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

June 13, 2010

Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” Mark 5:29-30

INTRO: What I want to do with this story is to:

  1. Go through it once and point out what we typically look for
  2. Then go back to it and focus on what we would typically overlook

Mark does a masterful job of rushing us through this woman’s biography

  • he tells her history in short phrases, strung together with the connective word “and”
  • he introduces into the story this character who lived on the margins
      – the margin of the story (contrasted with Jairus, whose story is combined with hers)
      – margin of society: as a woman, but especially as “unclean”
  • the marginalized person doesn’t “belong” to society
    – she was excluded from normal activity of town, neighborhood
    – she did not enjoy full rights or privileges
    – she was not allowed in certain places

As we watch, she sneaks from the margin toward center; namely, Jesus

  • But even then, she has only marginal contact with him
    Matthew says that she “touched the fringe of His cloak”
  • So she moved from the margin of society only as far as the margin of Jesus’ person
    She did not want a face-to-face encounter with Jesus
     – didn’t want to become a disciple
     – it would seem she wasn’t even interested in his teaching
  • She sneaked up behind him only to steal a touch
    – to steal a healing and then melt into crowd and make her getaway

But before she could get to protection behind a wall of people, Jesus had spun around and demanded to know who touched him
 – he did not allow her to steal what he was willing to freely give
 – he did not allow her to go away with just a touch
Had he let her get away, she may have been healed (“healthy”) but she would not have become whole

It may not be obvious, but same reason Jesus did not let her get away is why he refused to give “sign” (Mt. 16:1-4)
 – Jesus was not willing to commit himself to just anyone
 – he was not going to commit himself to people who were not ready or willing to commit themselves to him

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” John 2:23-25

People come to God, praying, “Give me a pill that will fix me. I don’t want to stop being me, or give up anything, or change anything; I just want You to repair me so I can return to the life I had”
– and they get upset when God doesn’t comply

Surgeons sometimes make demands on patients:
“You won’t get heart transplant if you continue to smoke”
Or, “You won’t get liver transplant if you continue to drink”
Are they unfair or unreasonable to demand that their patients break a bad habit or dependency?
Someone had to die for patient to get a second chance at life
Is it right for me to accept a second chance if I’m going to abuse it?

But if someone is willing to put all their faith in Jesus, then he is willing to take them on as his own

So Jesus didn’t let her disappear into the crowd

  • he didn’t let her get away without facing him
  • he didn’t let her return to margin with her gift, but still a broken person

It is in referring to her as “Daughter” that we discover what Jesus was after: to establish a relationship with her
– this was an act that resulted in a more complete healing–how she became “whole”
She was no longer alone on the margin of society, but she now had a Father and a Brother

So here we have the sort of lesson we typically look for in a gospel story like this one
But Mark includes a detail that may not seem important enough to point out
I’m afraid, however, that if we don’t consider it, we’ll miss something useful

The story hinges on consciousness (or awareness)
Both the woman and Jesus have their moment of awareness
There would have been no story
– if the woman was not aware of being healed, or
– if Jesus was not aware of her touch

Look at the language Mark uses:

  • “and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction”
  • perceiving in Himself . . . power from Him had gone forth”
  • “fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her”

They both demonstrate a “body consciousness” that is very rare for us

We live at a distance from our bodies
This is characteristic of western world under the influence of Greek thought

  • industrial society: the value of body is its function
  • consumer culture: the value of body is “sales”
     – advertisers use it to sell products
     – individuals use it to sell themselves

The result: our body awareness tends to be purely superficial
 – we are overly conscious and concerned with our body’s appearance
 – we are not conscious and concerned enough with it’s experience of life

Antonio Damasio is Head of the Department of Neurology at the University of Iowa, “. . . emotions and feelings are tangibly about the body.”
He says it is likely that prior to Greek influence people, “were able to sense more about themselves than many of us . . . are able to sense these days.”

  • The body communicates with the brain external and internal states
    – the brain makes adjustments according to information it receives from the body: balance, temperature, etc.
    – most of these processes are unconscious
  • Emotions and feelings are physical states
    – emotion doesn’t exist in a special mental category (non-physical)
    “All emotions use the body as their theater”

None of this would have been news to people living in biblical times (see Ps. 38:1-10)
The emotional experience of life was located in body

  • “bones” could shake, Job 4:14; be “vexed,” Ps. 6:2
  • “flesh” can experience security, Ps. 16:9; yearn, 63:1
  • “heart” can be glad, Ps. 16:9; but can also faint, 61:2
  • “bowels” can mourn, Is. 16:11; can agonize, Jer. 4:19

One time Fr. Romuald and I were talking about the graphically anthropormorphic language God used in Hosea to describe his conflicted emotions toward Israel, in which God refers to his “twisted bowels” (Ho. 11:8, Hebrew text). We discussed the use of “bowels” in the Hebrew Scriptures and Romuald explained, “In their anthropology, that’s the deepest way you could feel.”  Then I added, “You could say, ‘God is compassionate,’ but then you’ve lost the visceral language. Or if you say, ‘God is conflicted,’ then you take it back to psychology.”

In describing emotional states, the psalmists and others also spoke of the eyes, ears, mouth, lips, tongue, hands, feet, and liver

  • Their feelings were registered in their organs of perception and locomotion (eyes, skin, hands, etc.)
  • Their emotions were registered in their internal organs and viscera
    And now all of this now has the backing of medical science, which has shown us:
    – what stress does to the body
    – how the body can affect the mind and emotions

Something is going on within your body that deserves attention
But we miss it – Why?

  • For one reason, we are constantly judging our bodies
  • For another, we constantly silence or ignore our bodies
  • And yet another reason is because some of us judge our feelings and emotions (even our aches and pains)

CONC: In Romans 12, Paul makes an ultimate statement about worship, “present your bodies a living sacrifice . . . acceptable”
What does that mean?

  • that we have to get in shape? Live healthier?
  • that we have to clean out all the inner negativity?

Present yourself to God exactly as you are
– with whatever feelings you have

Your body will tell you the truth about yourself
“You’re uptight,” “nervous,” “depressed,” etc.
– the psalmists presented all of these things to God

Spend time in God’s presence listening to your body
Become aware of your physical experience; external and internal
Listen to what your body is telling you and present it to God

And what you discover is that while you’re paying attention to your body,
your awareness enlarges until you and your body awaken to God
Then you will be able to tune in to what Jesus is doing within you

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