************ Sermon on Luke 8:40-48 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 24, 2006
"She Touched Him?!"
I A Sick Woman
A Jesus has been asked by Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, to come and heal his dying daughter. Luke tells us that "as Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him" (Lk 8:42). In that crowd is a woman who has been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She is desperate. We know from the Gospel of Mark that she has suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and has spent all she had; in fact, she was lavish in her spending. No expense was spared in her attempt to be healed. Yet, instead of getting better she has gotten worse (Mk 5:26).
B Her problem is not only physical. Under the ceremonial laws of Leviticus 15 she is considered unclean and is treated almost like a leper. Because of her uncleanness she is not permitted to take part in temple or synagogue worship. Her family and friends and acquaintances keep away from her because if she touches any of them they are considered unclean as well. This poor woman is a pariah, an outcast, to the synagogue, to the community, and to her family. No wonder she is desperate. No one wants her, not even her God.
C As the crowd presses around Jesus she gets close to Him and simply touches the edge of His cloak. She knows she cannot come straight to Him. If she comes openly, the people who know her might not allow her to get close to Jesus. So she has to sneak up on Jesus as part of the crowd jostling Him and surrounding Him. Furthermore, she does not want the embarrassment of explaining her illness in front of everyone. So, she prefers the secret touch.
What happens when she touches Jesus? The Bible says, "... immediately her bleeding stopped" (Lk 8:44).
II Who Did the Touching?
A This sounds kind of magical, doesn't it? All you have to do is touch the Master. Touching the Master leads to the automatic flow of healing power from Him to the sufferer. One chapter earlier Luke has this to say:
(Lk 6:19) and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.Again, it sounds like magic.
The Bible is very clear here. Luke says, "She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak" (Lk 8:44). "Who touched me?" asked Jesus (Lk 8:45). Jesus did not ask this because He did not know the answer. After all, He knows all things and sees all things. All that the woman did was touch the edge of Jesus' cloak. This was not something an ordinary person would feel or be aware of. I wouldn't realize it if someone came up behind me and lightly touched the hem of my suit jacket. But Jesus knew someone did this and He even knew who did this. "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me" (Lk 8:46).
"Who touched me?" Jesus did not ask this out of ignorance. He did not ask this because He wanted to know the answer. Jesus asked this to make a point. Jesus asked this to demonstrate His grace and His mercy.
Let me get at this by asking a question that may surprise you. I want to ask, "Who really did the touching?" Our answer to this question shows that this woman's healing was not magical; rather, it shows that the healing took place by grace and through faith.
Who really did the touching? Jesus says, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me" (Lk 8:46). Let there be no mistake about it, this power is the "power of the Lord" (cf Luke 5:17). The power of the Lord does not flow involuntarily from one person to the next. The power of the Lord is not summoned by magic. Man cannot call it whenever he wants. Man cannot manipulate it or control it.
Balaam and Balak tried to do this. Four times they tried to summon down the curses of God upon Israel. They discovered they cannot curse those whom God has not cursed and they cannot denounce those whom the LORD has not denounced (Numbers 22-24).
Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli the High Priest, also tried to do this. They thought that if they took the ark of the covenant into battle against the Philistines, the Lord God would give Israel the victory. They thought God's power and honor was tied to the box and could be controlled and manipulated (1 Sam 4).
Remember Simon the Sorcerer? He wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit so that everyone on whom he lay his hands may receive the Holy Spirit. Peter condemned him for thinking he could buy and control the gift and power of God (Acts 8:19-23).
God's power is never out of God's control. In our Bible reading the original Greek makes plain (by its use of the perfect) that God's power was deliberately sent out from and by Jesus. In other words, it was Jesus' intention, His plan, to heal the woman.
Who really did the touching? Knowing what we know about the power of God we have to say that it was a case of Jesus touching the woman rather than the woman touching Jesus. And it was by grace that Jesus touched her with His power. It was by grace – pure, wondrous, beautiful grace – that the woman was healed by the wonder-working power of God.
B Who really did the touching? Not only did God's wonder-working power flow to the woman by grace but, says Jesus, it was also through faith. Notice what Jesus says to the woman: "Daughter, your faith has healed you" (Lk 8:48). She was healed by grace and through faith. Jesus touched her with His power and by faith she embraced that power.
By this time in His ministry lots of people have heard of Jesus. They follow Him from place to place. Luke tells us that
(Lk 4:40) ... the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.Everyone, it seems, wanted to touch and be touched by Jesus. This woman too has obviously heard of Jesus. And, when she hears He is in her town she decides she has to touch Him. And, she believes that when she touches Him the power of God will cure her.
(Lk 5:15) ... the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.
(Lk 6:17-19) He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, (18) who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, (19) and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
Who really did the touching? Jesus did – by grace. And the woman did – by faith.
III A Healed Woman
A What happens when the power of God, by grace through faith, flows from Jesus to the woman? Jesus uses the word "peace." He says to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace" (Lk 8:48).
Peace. Peace means wholeness, fullness, the Hebrew concept of Shalom. This woman is made whole and full. We can identify three areas in which the woman is given peace: she is given peace with herself, peace with her people, and peace with her God.
First of all, she is given peace with herself. Luke tells us that "... immediately her bleeding stopped" (Lk 8:44). She has gone to doctors for 12 years. She has spent a fortune on them and now is broke. But none of them were able to help her. Now, however, with a simple touch, she is healed. Oh, what a blessed relief. No more cramps. No more pain. No more agony. No more doctors. No more treatments.
B Secondly, she is given peace with her people. Do you notice what Jesus does? He makes her do the one thing she does not want to do. He makes her explain to everyone her bleeding and unclean condition. You can imagine people shrinking away from her as she says this. But she hastens to add that she has been instantly healed.
Why does Jesus do this? Jesus wants the people in her town and synagogue, He wants her family and neighbors, to know she is no longer unclean. He wants them to know so they will no longer shrink away from contact with her. He wants them to know so they will no longer treat her as an outcast. He wants them to know so they will welcome her back and allow her to worship and shop and visit and do all the things she would like to do but cannot do as long as she is bleeding.
Jesus welcomes her back. He treats her like one of His children. He calls her "Daughter" (Lk 8:48). Jesus treats her as someone important, someone significant, not someone to be avoided at all costs. He stops to give her His undivided attention. In Jesus we see God's compassion for, and interest in, the small people of the world.
Do we recognize what this means, what this really means, for us today? When someone is touched by Jesus by grace through faith they become one of God's acceptable people. We have people today who are as much an outcast as this woman was in the days of Jesus. I think of prisoners and ex-prisoners, I think of AIDS patients, I think of abusive fathers and husbands, I think of alcoholics and drug addicts. All of these people – and more – are considered outcasts by today's world. But if they know Jesus, we need to welcome them. Let me illustrate this by something I found in the November 1988 issue of Moody Monthly:
She pleaded on the phone, "My son is dying of AIDS. Will you please come and pray with him?"
"Yes," said the senior pastor of a large metropolitan church.
"Oh, thank you, thank you," the woman sobbed. "You're the fifth church I've called."
"What happened to the others?"
"Two hung up on me. One outright refused. And one didn't answer at all."
Once someone has been touched by grace through faith they are to be acceptable to and fully welcomed by the Christian community. The church never turns away anyone who is led by the grace of God to repent and believe. Regardless of race or color, regardless of the sins they have done, regardless of the theological or political positions they may hold, regardless of their social or economic class, once a person has been touched by grace through faith they are to be accepted and welcomed by the church.
C Thirdly, the woman is also given peace with God. Her physical healing is symbolic of an inner spiritual healing. "Go in peace," says Jesus. Among Jews at the time of Jesus this was said in much the same way that we say "Good bye" today. But from the lips of Jesus it means more – much, much more. It means this woman, by grace and through faith, has been given the fullness of Christ's salvation. Not only has her body been healed, not only has she been restored to life in the community, but she has also been forgiven of her sins and now is promised life everlasting.
It is fair to say that by grace and through faith this woman's life has been changed. It has been changed forever. Jesus touched her by grace and she responded to Him through faith and never again will her life be the same.
Now I need to ask, have you met the Master? Has He touched you by grace and have you responded to Him through faith? Has He changed your life like He forever changed the life of a poor, suffering woman?
My prayer, my brothers and sisters, is that you can say, "He touched me. I met and touched the Master."
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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