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May 2 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

May 1, 2011

And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.” But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me. Luke 8:45-46 (read Lk. 8:40-56)

INTRO: Some stories in the Bible require long explanations

The differences between their time and culture and ours are as so great, without explanation we miss the point of the story
– other stories, the elements are so familiar, we step into them and instantly feel at home
– today we encounter two stories that immediately open to us

A man emerges from the crowd and falls down before Jesus
– he is not the first, nor will he be the last parent to feel helpless regarding a child
– but before his crisis is resolved, a desperate woman sneaks up behind Jesus and steals a touch

Not only are these stories easy to follow, but we enjoy them
– once the scene begins we are hooked – we want to hear it

  • Why does this important man trash his dignity?
  • Why does this woman want to touch Jesus, yet hide from him?

We are drawn into the drama of their lives because we, too, are human and therefore desperate, and lost, and lonely
– we are looking for the answer, or wisdom, or help

The beauty of all this is that through their stories, we come closer to person of Jesus
– we get to know him better
– and in their stories we begin to see more clearly our own story with Jesus

Let’s look at the characters

The crowd
As with all crowds, is an assortment of different types of humans who melt into the group
– in a couple of ways, this crowd looks like the church

  1. They had been waiting for Jesus
    – in general, the church waits for Jesus’ return (Php. 3:20)
    – more specfically, when the church meets, it is Jesus we hope to encounter

    – after all, churches offer people many different things: a program, an education, a title
    – how important is it to you that when here, you encounter Jesus?

  2. When Jesus returned, they welcomed him
    – we can assume they were happy to see him, that they wanted him and accepted him
    – it is with worship that the church welcomes the presence of Jesus

Nevertheless, the crowd is not all that easy to classify
– the word “welcome” appeared earlier in this chapter in verse 13, where the people whose hearts were like the rocky soil “received the word with joy” – and we know that the plant that grew up there did not survive
I would not make this comparison between the crowd and the parable of the soils because of a coincidence regarding one word
– heading toward Jairus’ home, the crowd made movement difficult for Jesus
– the Greek word translated “pressing against,” is found only one other time in all of Luke’s writings, and that is in verse  14, where the thorns choked the life out of the plant that grew up among them
– here is Jesus, the “Prince of life” bringing the life of God to a dying child, and his progress is being choked by the crowd
– and even though these people are touching Jesus, they’re not being healed
Perhaps Luke placed the parable of the soils before these two stories to provide us a way to observe and interpret the crowds that flocked to Jesus
– like the seed and the soils, the crowd represents a potential
– the individuals in the crowd are capable of going in one of four directions

The last crowd to appear in the chapter is a different one – neighbors and family members mourning for the dead girl
– but soon they go from weeping over Jairus’ daughter to laughing at Jesus – rejecting his word

So the crowd is mixed and we do not really know how those in it will ultimately respond to Jesus
– when Luke leaves us hanging like this, it is because he is putting the question to us
We ask, “What happened to those people?”
– Luke’s answer is, “We are watching you to find out, for you are that crowd and the next decision is yours”

Jairus and the woman
Two people: one comes to Jesus out of the crowd and the other hides herself in the crowd

Here we find the kind of contrasts that Luke likes to highlight:

  • male and female (as with Simon and the “immoral woman, 7:36-50)
  • named and anonymous
  • a ruler and an outcast
  • a synagogue official and a woman who was excluded from the synagogue
  • one fell at Jesus’ feet and the other came up behind Jesus
  • one “declared in the presence of all” how she was healed and the other was instructed to “tell no one what had happened”

Yet Luke throw these two people together in a way that reveals how much they share in common:

  • they both fell down before Jesus (vv. 41 & 47)
  • Jesus addressed the woman as“Daughter” and Jairus came to Jesus regarding his daughter
  • the woman had suffered for twelve years, while Jairus’ daughter was twelve years old
  • the woman and the girl were both healed with a touch
  • they both experienced immediate healing
  • in both cases, Jesus made a connection between faith and being made well

Their role in the stories is insignificant – they are simply there
– but they are there, observing, experiencing, and learning
This week while reading in Acts 9, I was struck by the way the healing of Jairus daughter is re-enacted

  • like Jesus, Peter was “implored” to come to Joppa where a saintly woman had died (Acts 9:36-38)
  • when he arrived, he sent everyone out of the room, as Jesus had
  • he spoke two words to the woman, “Tabitha arise” as Jesus had spoken two words to the girl, “Talitha arise” (Talitha is Aramaic for “little girl,” whereas Tabitha was the woman’s name, see Mk. 5:41 & Acts 9:40)
  • Peter took Tabitha by the hand as Jesus had taken Jairus’ daughter by the hand

– it was almost as if Peter followed Jesus’ actions step-by-step

In the middle of all these characters: Jesus

The Hero

What is the point of these interesting, intertwined stories?

It is more than healing or the fact that Jesus has the power to heal
– something happened that went beyond physical healing

Notice: verse 48, “your faith has made you well,” and verse 50, “only believe and she will be made well”
– these statements deserve close attention

Later on in the New Testament, Paul uses a word that for him defines God’s work in a believer: Salvation
– this s the same word translated “made you well” and “made well”
– I hope that seeing this helps broaden our idea of salvation; it is

  • living in a state of righteousness before God with our sins forgiven – our minds no longer haunted by guilt (Lk. 7:48-50)
  • restoration to physical health
  • restoration to a sound mind (see vv. 35-36, where “made well” is also “saved”)
  • restoration of relationships
  • restoration to normal social involvement and interaction (the woman could return to her social world, no longer “unclean”)

God is concerned with the wholeness of the total human person; our hopes, fears, needs, cravings, temptations – all of it
– it is not only your soul God wants to save nor is salvation something that lies only in the future
– God saves the whole person and it began in your life when you met Jesus at the cross

Fundamentalists have done a great disservice to Christianity by promoting a Greek philosophy of humans
– that a person can be broken into separate units and compartmentalized
– one part of the person (the material part, the body) is bad, flawed, and corrupt
– another (the spirit) part is good, perfect, and pure
Fundamentalists tend to extend this bifurcation to every aspect of life
(e.g., one’s career and public education is secular and apart from God while everything that goes on within their church and subculture is holy and related to God, Sunday is devoted to God while the other days are spent “in the world,” and so on)
We were not created as separate pieces glued together and that is not how God treats us nor is it our experience of his work in our lives (1 Thes. 5:23)

The greatest commandment, when Jesus was asked about it (Lk. 10:27), boiled down to loving God

  • “with all your heart” – feelings, emotions, will, devotion
  • “and with all your soul,” – inner, spiritual life
  • “and with all your strength” – the body
  • “and with all your mind” – intellect, thoughts, ideas
  • “and your neighbor as yourself” – our relational network

The only part of the self we are required to shed is the sinful part, which is not part of our true self at all
– it is the false self with its illusions, it’s desire to be god, it’s need to control

To be made well (saved) is to become whole and we are growing into this wholeness
– God is doing this so we can live as he meant for us to live
– even after we receive healing, it is still a lifelong journey to wholeness

About suffering . . .

We naturally assume that suffering is something negative, but it is mostly neutral
– whether its effects are negative or positive depends on how we respond to it

Suffering brought the woman to Jesus
Suffering brought Jesus to the home of Jairus

Gerald May observed, “If we are truly open to the Spirit’s potential, we will be able to acknowledge that pain and pleasure, joy and sadness, success and failure–all these things may work either for or against our growth in spirit.”

God draws as close to us in sorrow as he does in laughter, in hardship as in comfort, in the storm as in the calm
– on the positive side of suffering, if it is great enough, it just might destroy my illusions
– for example, the illusion that I can save myself  (see Job 40:10-14)

CONC: Through these stories, Luke has given us a gift

With faith, comes possibilities
– without faith we have impossibilities and pipe dreams

Faith prays: Sometimes it begs, other times it is a silent touch

Remember the disciples in the storm when Jesus asked, “Where is your faith?”
– what Luke has made clear, is that faith is found in Jesus
– and faith in Jesus grows and is formed through struggles

Faith is what brings us to Jesus, but even as we’re coming to him, we have to hold on to it because forces in this world try to knock it out of us
– those forces tried to knock it out of the woman as she pushed through the crowd to Jesus
– those forces tried to knock it out of Jairus when his servants arrived with the news, “Your daughter has died”

Faith goes to work and produces results when it connects us with Jesus
– when we touch him or he touches us and divine power flows from his heart to ours to make us whole

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