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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE
Who Touched Me? - Luke 8:40-48

Senior Pastor Delbert Young, March 25,, 2012
204 North Main Street, LaFayette, GA†30728, www.lifegatechurch.com

We've probably all felt, at some point in time, desperate and hopeless. Some life event happened - perhaps sickness, children problems, occupational problems, impending debt, impending death of a loved one, marriage, so many things. It exhausted you with worry and you were sick with concern. I speak with people daily going through the anxiety of desperation and hopelessness. They've done everything they could, but can't stop it. Desperation and hopelessness robs our life of life. Hopelessness can make life feel not worth living. Despair and hopelessness are dangerous places to be, sometimes bringing suicidal thoughts.

Let's talk about this today. I've been there - not suicidal, but hopeless. You've been there or maybe are there. People you know today are there, if you can't help them, what will happen? I heard this was said at a funeral of someone so hopeless they committed suicide. A relative said, "We all could have done more." What?

As we've seen in our studies, Jesus experienced consecutive days of mostly riding in a boat. He wanted to sail across the lake. A deadly storm attacked them which he stilled. Stepping ashore, a naked monster man full of demons met him which he delivered. The crowd asked Jesus to leave. He got back in the boat and came back across the lake finding a different crowd. This crowd welcomed him with anticipation. We are in a crowd either anticipating Jesus, or in a crowd wanting Jesus to leave. In which are you? In which are your children?

Luke 8:40-43 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then A MAN NAMED JAIRUS, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with him to come to his house because HIS ONLY DAUGHTER, A GIRL OF ABOUT TWELVE, WAS DYING. As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And A WOMAN WAS THERE WHO HAD BEEN SUBJECT TO BLEEDING for twelve years, but no one could heal her.

Jesus was spotted sailing in. A crowd rapidly formed. Within the crowd, we find two very hopeless and desperate people. In every crowd there are hopeless and desperate people. There are some here today. In that crowd, we find (1) Jairus with a daughter at the door of death. (2) A woman with a menstrual disorder hemorrhaging for twelve years. Both were hopeless and desperate.

Luke 8:41-42 ...a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying...

We won't talk much about Jairus today. He'll be our subject next time. The point I do want us to see is Jairus was a ruler of the synagogue and one of the most influential, powerful, and well known men in town. He was in such hopeless despair that he risked his position with the Jews by coming to Jesus. Jairus was financially and socially successful, but this day, his popularity, success, money, and his religion meant nothing. His twelve year old daughter, his only daughter, his "Daddy's girl" was at the door of death. Hopeless and dire situations will always bring life into perspective. All that mattered was his daughter. That day Jairus needed Jesus. Only Jesus could help. The first thing we must remember, and help others see in hopeless times is, like it or not, Jesus is often the only answer. Jesus isn't a religious experience. Jesus is a hope experience.

Luke 8:42-43 ...As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, BUT NO ONE COULD HEAL HER.

Imagine a rock star passing through a mass of teenagers. The crowds almost crushed him. In the midst of the crowds was a bleeding woman, polar opposite Jairus in that city and society. First, she was a woman. Women were not treated well in that society who felt women were only for pleasure, having children, and tending a home. Plus, this woman has hemorrhaged twelve years and, according to the Jewish law, she was defiled and "unclean." Luke, a physician said, "No one could heal her." Mark says she spent everything she had on doctors.

Mark 5:26 She had SUFFERED A GREAT DEAL under the care of many doctors and had SPENT ALL SHE HAD, yet INSTEAD OF GETTING BETTER SHE GREW WORSE.

Luke says it was incurable, but Mark felt doctors were taking advantage. The Old Testament scriptures say,

Leviticus 15:25 "'When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, SHE WILL BE UNCLEAN AS LONG AS SHE HAS THE DISCHARGE, just as in the days of her period.

The passage goes on to say her clothes were unclean. Her bed was unclean. Any chair she sat in was unclean. Anything and anyone she touched was unclean. If married, she would be force to divorce. She was not allowed to enter any place where contact could be made with people. She was a reject. She was excommunicated from synagogue worship. She was much like a leper.

She was the polar opposite of Jairus except in one area - dire hopelessness. Hopelessness has no social parameters. Hopelessness does not observe boundaries - race, financial, nationality, or religion, but neither does Jesus observe boundaries. All are the targets of hopelessness, but all are targets of Jesus. In desperation, she too comes to find Jesus. She didn't care anymore about what would happen to her just as Jairus didn't care anymore what his religion said to him. Both, desperate and hopeless, went to Jesus.

Many people come to Jesus in dire, hopeless, and desperate times. The times were truly bad, but if bad times drive us to Jesus, are they really bad, or are they actually good? If your bad time brought you to Jesus, then it was good, right? When helping people through their times, always realize God will use their dire hopeless time to save their souls even if religious like Jairus, or outcast like this hemorrhaging woman.

Isn't that what church should be - a mixture of both ends and all of society- both those well off and successful and those not so well off, the outcast and the popular. The church should mirror Jesus. It should be a crowd of people pressing in on Jesus. A crowd always includes hopeless people who need to find hope. Maybe we can't heal every sick person, or raise dead people, but we can be a crowd of people with Jesus in the center where the hopeless can find hope. We can't use society's boundaries in church. Dress codes, background, race, social barriers, must not be found here if we are a true mirror of Jesus.

Luke 8:44 She came up behind him and TOUCHED THE EDGE OF HIS CLOAK, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

She came up behind him. She didn't come forward and openly. She was unclean and forced to sneak in. If caught touching a person, she could be arrested and prosecuted. Nonetheless, she got in and she touched the edge of his cloak. Why was the edge of his cloak her target?

Numbers 15:37-39 The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'Throughout the generations to come you are to MAKE TASSELS ON THE CORNERS OF YOUR GARMENTS, with a blue cord on each tassel.

One of those tassels is what the woman "touched." "Tassels" is the Hebrew word tsiytsith {tis-tith} - a floral or wing-like projection, i.e. a fore-lock of hair, a tassel. It was also referred to as the "wings of the garment." Who cares, right? That woman cared. Here's why.

Malachi 4:2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise WITH HEALING IN ITS WINGS. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.

She slipped in from behind targeting a tsiytsith - a healing wing. She reached out in faith and touched - haptomai {hap'-tom-ahee} - to fasten one's self to, adhere to, cling to. She believed Jesus was Messiah. Healing was in his wing - tsiytsith. She fastened herself to it.

Not only was she healed physically. She got her hope and life back! She was restored to society. She was no longer called "unclean." She could marry. She could shop. She could get her hair done. She could feel pretty again. She could now be with her friends. She could go to church (synagogue). She could again have a life - live again.

Jesus came to give us our lives back - life and that more abundantly (Joh 10:10). He does that by giving us our hope back. There are so many hopeless people. There are hopeless Christians. That's mostly who I talk with. It's sad. We've got to tell them to fasten to a tsiytsith.

Though everyone may not experience a physical healing, all can experience a healing in their hope. The thing I can do for a hopeless person is help them fasten themselves to Jesus. I know that sounds trite, but it works and it works every time. Even when a Christian is going through a hopeless time, I've learned they've let go of Jesus and focused on their hopelessness. Focus on Jesus and he will heal the hopeless.

Luke 8:45-48 "WHO TOUCHED ME?" Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you." But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I KNOW THAT POWER HAS GONE OUT FROM ME." Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, "DAUGHTER, YOUR FAITH HAS HEALED YOU. Go in peace."

Jesus did not allow the crowd to condemn her. God recreated her insides. The crowd was pressing against Jesus. Suddenly, Jesus stopped. Everybody runs into the back of the person in front of them as Jesus asked a seemingly bizarre question. "Who touched me?" Peter said, "Do what? You're kidding, right? Everybody's touching you." Jesus said, "No. No. Somebody really touched me. Someone reached into heaven and grabbed me." Have you ever done that?

There's a huge distinction between brushing up against Jesus when simply flowing along with the crowd and actually touching Jesus. God recreates something on our inside when we touch him. The bleeding stops. We live again. Jesus didn't ask, "Who grabbed my tsiytsith?" He said, "Who touched ME?" It wasn't the tsiytsith that healed and gave the woman back her life and hope.

The New Testament mentions objects used to minister: (1) This woman - tsiytsith; (2) Peter's shadow (Acts 5:15-16); and (3) Handkerchiefs touched by Paul (Acts 19:11-12). Oral Roberts called it "a point of contact." I've prayed over and anointed things for people and have seen results. Sometimes people need this. However, it's never the object. Jesus said, "Daughter, your FAITH has healed you" not the tsiytsith. Jesus let everyone know it wasn't the tsiytsith. It was her believing Jesus was Messiah/King, the Son of God. Unless we touch him in that way through faith, we haven't touched him at all. Jesus isn't a religious ornament - a cross worn around the neck, or a tiny statue on the mantle. He's the Son of God.

She came to grab Jesus. Many come to check out church, check out the preacher, check out the nursery, and check out the praise. All that's important, but we should come to grab - haptomai - Jesus. That's when the power - dunamis {doo'-nam-is} - something dynamic - happens in our lives. I watch people come to church in hopeless situations. They grab - haptomai {hap'-tom-ahee} - Jesus. The bleeding stops. God creates something on their inside. Their life and their hope are restored.

This was so personal Jesus said, "DAUGHTER, your faith has healed you [sozo - saved you]. Go in peace." This is the only time Jesus called anyone "daughter." How precious were those words to her! Her intention was to touch Jesus quietly, but Jesus stopped the whole parade, even as important Jairus' 911 situation was, to interact with her. She didn't want to embarrass Jesus. She was no embarrassment to him. I read this true story.

"Mary Ann Bird, in her memoir entitled The Whisper Test, tells of the power of words of acceptance in her own life. She was born with multiple birth defects: deaf in one ear, a cleft palate, a disfigured face, a crooked nose, lopsided feet. As a child, Mary Ann suffered not only these physical impairments but also the emotional damage inflicted by other children. 'Oh, Mary Ann,' her classmates would say, 'what happened to your lip? 'I cut it on a piece of glass,' she would lie. One of her worst experiences at school, she reported, was the day of the annual hearing test. The teacher would call each child to her desk, and the child would cover first one ear, and then the other. The teacher would whisper something to the child like 'The sky is blue' or 'You have new shoes.' This was 'the whisper test'; if the teacherís phrase was heard and repeated, the child passed the test. To avoid the humiliation of failure, Mary Ann always would cheat on the test, secretly cupping her hand over her one good ear so that she still could hear what the teacher said. One year Mary Ann was in the class of Miss Leonard, one of the most beloved and popular teachers in the school. Every student, including Mary Ann, wanted to be noticed by her, wanted to be her pet. Then came the day of the dreaded hearing test. When her turn came, Mary Ann was called to the teacherís desk. As Mary Ann cupped her hand over her good ear, Miss Leonard leaned forward to whisper. 'I waited for those words,' Mary Ann wrote, 'that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life.' Miss Leonard did not say to Mary Ann, 'The sky is blue' or 'You have new shoes.' What she whispered was, 'I wish you were my little girl.'"

God said to her, "Daughter... you're no embarrassment to me." God's that way with you and me. We are no embarrassment to God. God stops the whole parade to interact with us and refuses to move until he can.

Mary Ann was born into a life of rejection and humiliation and hopelessness. That changed forever when Jesus "stopped" for Mary Ann through Miss Leonard. Mary Ann got her life back. Mary Ann felt "unclean" and untouchable by society. Yet, she said, "Those seven words that changed my life." It was just a whisper - seven words from one person. I get to do that sometimes. I wish I could do it more. Sometimes, it's not so much what we do that gives people their hope and life back. It's often what we say - a whisper from Jesus.

What more could have been done for the young man I mentioned earlier who, because of hopelessness, committed suicide? Could a whisper from the right person, any person, have made a difference?

I want to challenge us all. Jesus stopped the parade for the woman with the issue of blood. Sometimes we need to stop our parade of life and whisper into the ear of a hopeless person. Is there someone needing hope today for whom you could stop your life and "give a whisper?"

Long, Thomas G., Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian.† San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004, pp.85-86.

 

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