It’s been my joy to study, in particular, the Gospels. This is the fourth gospel that we’ve done together here. We have spent nearly twenty-five years in the gospels, and I never ever tire; I never grow weary of the magnificence of Christ. Usually I get a week to prepare a sermon, but I’ve had three weeks to work on this one. And I could keep you here until you fell out of the window and died, and we had to raise you from the dead like Eutychus; but I won’t do that. So we’ll have to break this portion of Scripture into two parts, this week and next. It’s inexhaustible the treasure of Scripture. What a joy for me the last few weeks to have literally been saturated with the truth of this text.
Mark 5, starting in verse 21. Mark 5. It is a text that is contained in Matthew. Matthew records it in chapter 9, and Luke records it in chapter 8. There are two miracles in the passage from verse 21 to 43, and they are interestingly arranged. It is another one of those Mark sandwiches. It is a story within a story, a miracle within a miracle. And usually I read the full text; and that is a delight, and a joy, and a privilege, and a responsibility to do. But in this case, in the narrative, I would rather allow the narrative to unfold itself to us. And so we’ll move through it together verse by verse, and then we’ll complete it next Sunday: Mark chapter 5, beginning at verse 21.
Now before we approach the text, just a larger context for you. Anybody who understands the Bible, anybody who understands the Holy Scripture knows that the human race fell as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve; and that mankind in total was catapulted into sin. Sin has released a deadly, pervasive force into the world that infects and affects every human being. We would go so far as to say it literally dominates every human being to the degree that every human being is, in fact, a slave of sin. Its force is so corrupting that it pollutes every faculty of man, and every thought of man, and every word of man, and every act of man. The force of that corruption spirals down even in the life of man, careening man into sickness, into sorrow, into suffering, into death, and finally into everlasting hell. And all the way along are the accompanying griefs and sorrows.
Since this is universally the case, the greatest question facing us is, “Is there escape? Is there any hope for deliverance from sin and its horrendous and everlasting consequences?” Well, the Bible gives the answer; and the answer is a resounding, “Yes. Yes.” There is a Deliverer; there is a Rescuer; there is a Savior. There is one, none other than Jesus Christ the Son of God.
Mark began his gospel in chapter 1, verse 1, by telling us that this book is the beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ the Son of God. That is Mark’s purpose in writing. It was also Matthew’s purpose, Luke’s purpose, and even John’s purpose. They all have the same goal, to declare to the world that the one Savior from sin has come, and He is none other than Jesus Christ the Son of God.
The four Gospels then lead us to one great, final conclusion, recorded in John 20, verse 31, that sweeps back over all four of them: “These things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have eternal life in His name.” Four Gospels written with the purpose of giving evidence, proof concerning the fact that Jesus is the one and only Savior from sin.
It is He, say the prophets and the apostles, who will reverse the curse. It is He who will crush Satan, and send him and all his legions eternally into the lake of fire. It is He who will destroy all sickness, all sorrow. It is He who will destroy even death itself, and give to those who believe in Him everlasting life forever in the new heavens and the new earth, which He Himself will one day create.
Who is able to such a massive, mighty work? Who can destroy demons? Who can destroy disease? Who can destroy death? Who can create? Only one. Only one. One who has power over demons, power over disease, power over death, and even power over the creation itself. One who can control wind. One who can control water. One who can create organs, limbs, food. One who can destroy, as it were, Satan and all his legions, gives evidence of His power to do that by dismissing with a command an entire legion of demons that had taken up residence in a maniac in Gadara. This is the one.
Power over disease, that is repletely evident in the New Testament record of the Gospels, one healing after another to the degree that He banishes illness from Israel for the time of His ministry. Power over demons again and again, week after week, day after day displayed. Power over death as well. And here in the text before us, Mark’s first recording of a resurrection: the one who gives life to demonstrate that He is the life.
The miracles then were Jesus’ self-revelation, the disclosure, the manifestation, the verification of His person by His power. To go along with that unparalleled power was unparalleled pity, unparalleled pity. There could have been so many ways in which Jesus could have demonstrated His deity in displays of power. He could have done powerful things of all kinds; but He chose expressions of power that were connected to delivering people from the sufferings of life, whether it was hunger, whether it was the fear of drowning, whether it was demon-possession, or whether it was disabling and even deadly disease. That power was accompanied always by pity; for the expressions of His power were filled with mercy toward human pain and suffering.
Again summed up in the wonderful, familiar words of John, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” So here again, another time in Mark’s account, chapter 5, verses 21 and following, we see both the power and the pity of our Lord made manifest. The main miracle here is a resurrection. But in the midst of that resurrection, there is a miraculous interlude that adds momentum to the expression of Jesus’ power as we move toward the great act of raising the dead.
It is an unforgettable account, both stories are so memorable, you, if you’ve not heard them before, will never forget them. It is, as I said, a miracle within a miracle. It looks at the Lord Jesus Christ, and sees in Him again the deity, the power that belongs only to God, and the passion that is equally His characteristic.
In the prior verses, verses 1 to 20, we saw His power over demons. Here we see His power over disease and His power over death. In the prior passage, the storm that He stilled, we saw His power over the creation itself, the wind, and the water. So in just this brief section of Mark, the full power of Christ is on display, and in each case express in pity toward those who are fearful and threatened.
Now there are so many ways to approach a story like this, but let me give you a few hooks to hang your thoughts on and to hang your narrative on as it moves, and I want to do it from the vantage point of the person of Jesus. I want to look at this with a perspective that I think will help us know how we are to live in the world, we are to minister in the world. He gives us a pattern that we can follow.
First of all, His accessibility, His accessibility. He is not like many religious leaders who live in ivory towers, who seclude themselves, protected from human contact, the hoi polloi. His entire ministry is spent in public. His entire ministry is spent in the streets, in the highways, on the hillsides, in the fields, in the synagogues, in the homes, by the sea, with only occasional retreats into isolation for the purpose of rest, for the purpose of instruction and explanation to His disciples, and sometimes for the purpose of being alone with His Father. But He always came back to the crowds. It was to them He had come, and it was to them that He would reveal Himself.
It wasn’t easy. They hounded Him. They crushed Him. They restricted His movement. Mark has told us earlier that they kept Him from even being able to eat a meal. They actually went further than being a serious nuisance; they threatened His life. On occasion they actually tried to kill Him. Even in His own town they wanted to throw Him off a cliff. But nonetheless, He was still accessible to them.
This is how the story begins in verse 21: “When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore.” This gives us the transition from the prior story.
Now let me just make it really quick. Jesus had, in the prior story, been on the eastern side of the Lake of Galilee, where He had confronted the demoniac who was possessed by a legion of demons, and sent them into a herd of swine, who then careened into the lake and drown. People there didn’t want Him. They told Him to leave their country. The only one who wanted to be with Him from that region was the demoniac who asked to come with Him, and He said, “No, stay here, and go throughout this area, and tell everyone what I have done.” He was really the first commissioned preacher of Christ, and he was a Gentile who had been possessed by a legion of demons with no training formal or informal, except the few hours he had spent with Jesus by the sea.
Jesus then left that place, got in the boat with His disciples – that’s how verses 18 to 20 end that section – and came back the six miles across the northern tip of the Lake of Galilee to the western side of Capernaum from where they had begun. And they brought the boat to the shore near the town itself.
And, of course, when they arrived, a large crowd gathered around Him. He is a celebrity. He is the one that people want to be near all the time. It is not a fascination with some kind of personality, it is a fascination with His power. They are stunned by His teaching; nobody ever taught like He taught. You know that since He is the Son of God, He is the most lucid, clear, profound, and yet accessible teacher who has ever opened His mouth and taught, and has spoken absolutely the truth. But it wasn’t that in particular that drew the very stone-cold hearts of these people, there was a fascination with His power.
I suppose it’s not unlike those occasions on a Friday night when I had to go the emergency room, because somebody in the church has become seriously ill, or been harmed in an accident, or some student at the college has had an automobile accident and is in serious condition, and I’ve gone into the emergency room. And generally speaking, they tell me Friday nights are the worst nights, and it’s jammed with people who want help. They’re not sure of even the outcome. They’re certainly not sure that there’s anybody in that hospital that’s going to heal them in an instant and they’re going to walk out. But they’re there, desperate for help. One can only imagine what the crowds were like in a situation where there were no hospitals, there was no effective medical care; and the person that they were surrounding could actually heal them from any disease and every disease in a split second.
We’re not surprised that there were tens of thousands of people not only from Capernaum, but from all over the surrounding area who came. They were always there, and they wanted Jesus in their country. They wanted Him there because they wanted His healings. Different than the Gentiles in Gadara by the town of Gerasa; they didn’t want Him at all. They told Him to go away.
Luke says they actually all had been waiting for Him. He had gone the previous day overnight; now He’s returning, and they hadn’t moved. They wanted help for their suffering. They weren’t particularly interested, for the most part, in responding to His message; but they did want the healings that He was able to do. I suppose you could say they were the first pursuers of a prosperity gospel: “Give it to me, and give it to me now.” No thought for the eternal, only the temporal, for the most part.
But in the midst of that selfish, self-righteous, fickle crowd, there were two people who stand out. Their story is a great benediction to us; and it shows us that there were those people who did have true faith in Jesus. I think these two were likely part of the 500 believers gathered after the resurrection who saw the risen Christ in Galilee.
They’re an interesting duo. They have no relationship to each other. There’s no reason they would even know each other. But they’re brought together in the text of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They’re two, a man and a woman; one rich, one poor; one respected, one rejected; one honored, one ashamed; one leading the synagogue, the other excommunicated from the synagogue; one with a twelve-year-old daughter dying, and one with a twelve-year-old disease suffering. They remind us of what Mary had said in her Magnificat in Luke 1:52 when she said, “God was a Savior who brought down rulers and exalted those who were humble.” Here is a perfect illustration of that.
The man is the ruler, the woman is humble. He is brought low, and she is lifted high: the ruler and the outcast. And so the scene is set, verse 22, for the accessibility of Jesus. “One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and seeing Him, fell at His feet.” Jesus was immediately accessible. There were no intermediaries. Did He have disciples? Yes. Did He have identified apostles? Absolutely. We know that already. But they didn’t screen Him. He was accessible.
Luke actually adds, because this is such a strange thing for a synagogue official to do, Luke says, “And behold!” An explanation. This is shocking; this is startling; this is surprising. Why? Because a synagogue official would be connected, intimately connected to the religious establishment; and the religious establishment was in the hands of the Pharisees and the scribes. They were the ones who pretty much determined what life in a synagogue was like. It was their theology that had become the theology of the populace. And we know how they felt about Jesus. They hated Him, resented Him, and had already begun to plot His death.
And though this man is not a Pharisee or a Sadducee, he’s not an official in terms of religion, he’s not a scribe, he’s not a rabbi. He is a synagogue official. What does that mean? Well, it means that in each synagogue there was a man or a group of men who acted as the caretakers, or the overseers, or the administrators of synagogue life. They weren’t necessarily the teachers; they, however, were the ones who cared for the scrolls, and cared for the facility, and administrated the facility, and organized the synagogue school. They had oversight responsibility: supervising activities, appointing readers, prayers, teachers, et cetera.
The man who received this honor would be a man who was respected: a religious man, a man of devotion, a man of mature leadership; a non-clerical, local official in the synagogue in Capernaum, selected by all the people to be a part of a group of elders, usually from three to seven, who would give leadership. He was the epitome of the Capernaum religious establishment.
Did he know about Jesus? Oh, yes. Oh, absolutely he knew about Jesus. Jesus had done many, many miracles in Capernaum, and notable miracles that could not possibly miss the grapevine. Even the ones that this man didn’t see, he would have heard about, like letting a man down through the roof of a house, healing him and forgiving his sins, and a myriad more day, after day, after day in Capernaum.
And, by the way, he may have been in the very same synagogue where an incident occurred, in chapter 1 recorded by Mark, verses 21 to 28, where Jesus came into the synagogue, was teaching in the synagogue, and in the middle of His teaching, a demonic power spoke out of a man’s mouth and identified Jesus as the Holy One of God. In fear and terror, the demon exposed himself saying, “What business do we have with You? You are the Holy One of God.”
By the way, the only testimony you’re going to hear as to the deity of Jesus Christ is from demons, until you get to the last chapter of Mark, or the next to the last chapter. There’s no human that identifies Him as God until the centurion who was a Gentile says, “Truly, this was the Son of God.” The only testimony you have that explicit prior to that comes from demons. Yes, the disciples at the midpoint of Mark do say “You’re the Christ.” They were struggling to really know fully who He was; the demons knew for sure.
Did the demons’ testimony ring true although coming from a deceptive and lying source? It was the truth that the demons spoke, coupled with the miracles that Jesus had done and the testimony of this supernatural power that this was the Son of God, and the immediate acquiescence of that demon to the commands of Jesus to abandon that man. Was that all part of the work of God, the work of the Spirit of God in the heart of this leader?
It’s really surprising that he came to Jesus. It gets even more surprising when he arrived, because he came up, and seeing Jesus, fell at His feet. That is clearly out of character for a synagogue leader, especially when he’s falling down before someone that the religious establishment wants dead because they believe Him to be a heretic. He fell at His feet. Matthew records it in chapter 9. You’ll read in there “worshiped.” The verb can mean that; it can mean that.
I believe this is true homage from a genuine heart. I think his posture of falling down shows his humility, his need, his desperation and also his faith. And that comes out in what he says, verse 23, “And implored Him earnestly, implored Him earnestly,” – begging, pleading – “saying, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.’”
He, as far as we know, had never seen a resurrection. We don’t have any of them occurring in Capernaum before this. He believed that Jesus could heal his daughter who was dying. You say, “Well maybe he only believed that He could heal her if she was sick, not if she was dead.” No. Matthew compresses the later information that came as they were moving toward the house that the daughter had died into a statement that the man, no doubt, said later, “My daughter has just died. But come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.” No. He believed Jesus could heal her. He believed that Jesus could raise her from the dead.
I mention this because I want to emphasize the fact that this man’s faith was in Jesus Christ. Couldn’t believe in the cross, it hadn’t happened. Couldn’t believe in the resurrection, that hadn’t happened. What could he believe? He could believe that Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Holy One of God as the demon had said. He was the Son of God as He Himself claimed to be. He was the Messiah. He could have believed as Jesus had taught them to believe, to believe in Him as the Son of God and the Redeemer of Israel and the Savior of the world, who alone could bring redemption from sin. The gospel of the kingdom which Jesus had preached day after day after day in that very town, that was all there was for him to believe.
But those kinds of things, while they fall short of the full understanding on the other side of the cross, would be the same situation exactly, for the publican who beat on his chest and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” And Jesus said, “That man went home justified.”
Or the man possessed of a legion of demons who has one encounter with Jesus, a few hours surely of instruction concerning the gospel of the kingdom, wants to go with Jesus because he doesn’t want to live another day without Jesus, and Jesus says, “Stay here and be an evangelist.” The same day that that man was converted and delivered from a legion of demons, he was turned into an evangelist. They believed what had been revealed to them. They really are examples of Old Testament believers who come penitent, dependent, needing mercy to the one who alone has divine power, and can give divine life and forgiveness.
Did the synagogue ruler, Jairus, also know that Jesus had claimed to forgive sins and made that claim most reasonable in the healing of the man let down through the roof? All of these things he had been exposed to. Listen, we have to believe, dear friend, that Jesus preached a sufficient enough message to bring salvation to those who believed it.
He had reached that point and he didn’t care anymore what the religious establishment felt about him. He would take that. He had something bigger that had gripped his heart. He had a daughter who was nearly dead. And she was twelve-years-old, as we find out later in verse 42, which means she had reached the wonderful age where she was eligible for marriage, ready to be an adult, ready to begin her life as a wife and a mother. And this was the most anticipated time in a girl’s life, and should have been filled with joy and hope, anticipation. But she is very, very ill. She is, he says, “At the point of death.” Luke says she was dying, she was dying. And later on, the message comes in verse 35, “Your daughter has died.”
This reality is an agonizing thing in the heart of Jairus; and so he goes to Jesus, and Jesus is accessible. How grateful he was that Jesus was not like a modern healer, incarcerated on the twelfth floor of a five-star hotel, while he has his agents down with the hoi polloi crowd picking out the people who will show up in the healing line, and making sure they don’t have any physical defects. He is accessible.
Secondly, He is available. That digs a little deeper. Accessible to be touched and contacted, to be spoken to, available to give Himself, take His time, His energy, His effort. This moves a little deeper; and we see that in verse 24: “And He went off with him.” He just stopped everything in the midst of this mass of people and became available to this one man, even though the large crowd was following Him, and pressing in on Him. It wouldn’t be easy, frankly, for Him to get out of the crowd to the house of Jairus, though obviously He lived in Capernaum, and that was nearby. But nonetheless He made the effort. It would be an effort to leave the crowd and become available to this one man.
I can’t even begin to imagine the demands that were placed on Jesus. And as I said, there were times when He couldn’t take it anymore and He did retreat because He was weary and exhausted. But the Creator walked with people. The Gospels are filled with the stories of His availability to individuals.
Jairus’ heart was breaking. But that wasn’t all that was in his heart. He had faith in Jesus. There is no doubt in the statements that he makes. He says, “Come and she will live. Whether she is sick or dead, she will live if You come.”
And so Jesus goes. And here you see the pity that’s always connected to the power. I love Matthew 12:20, which basically quotes Isaiah 42:3, “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench.” When someone is bruised and battered and broken, and the flame is about to go out, He doesn’t break that person further, He doesn’t blow that wick out; He comes to bring rest, and strength, and restoration. I love that.
Matthew 14:14, “He was moved with compassion.” Mark 1:41, “He was moved with compassion.” Mark 8:2, “I have compassion on the multitude. Matthew 9:36, “When He saw the multitudes He was moved with compassion.” So much compassion in the heart of God for those who suffer.
The man’s faith was to be tested on the way to the house, however. According to verse 24, they’re off to the house. His heart must have been beating with joy as he anticipated that his daughter would be well as soon as they reached the house. And on the way, there is an interruption. Let’s call this His interruptibility. That’s a virtue that all of us have to work at a little bit. We get going in one direction for a noble cause, right? We get going in one direction for a very, very noble cause. Noblest of all causes in the case of our Lord. And yet He is interruptible. On the way to Jairus’ house, with the crowd following, that means He was moving in the middle of a mass of people, pressing in on Him. Here comes the miracle inside the miracle.
A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years appears in the scene. Now this woman is described in a lot of detail. In fact, there are seven participial phrases used to describe this woman and her condition, a very extensive description. To simplify it, she is a female who has a bleeding problem, and she has had this bleeding problem for as long as Jairus’ daughter has been alive. She’s had this bleeding problem since Jesus was about twenty years old.
Now we don’t know what caused it, Scripture doesn’t tell us this. Lots of possibilities. She was having a constant loss of blood, hemorrhaging. That would involve a loss of strength. A female kind of problem like that would certainly cause embarrassment, the danger of death, severe physical effects.
There was more than that; that alone would have been enough. But on top of that, there was an Old Testament law to consider. According to the twelfth chapter of Leviticus, verses 3 through 8, and the fifteenth chapter of Leviticus, verses 19 to 27, a woman was unclean for seven days after such an experience. Here was a woman who was unclean for twelve years. She could never be clean, never.
What did that mean? An unclean, defiled woman couldn’t go to the synagogue, couldn’t go to the temple. She was an outcast for twelve years. If she touched her husband, he was unclean. If she touched her children, they were unclean . If she touched her friends, they were unclean. If she touched a stranger, he was unclean. What was life like for her? There was no way to become ceremonial clean.
By the way, that law of seven days of cleansing ritual was designed by God to be an illustration of what sin does. There were lots of symbols in the Old Testament, in the ABCs of God’s disclosed revelation, and one of them was that the laws of clean and unclean were symbolic ways to demonstrate how sin soils, defiles, and corrupts. It was just a constant, constant, constant reminder. This woman never was able to rise beyond that; constantly, ritually defiled, unable to touch anyone without passing on that defilement, according to the Old Testament. Sad, sad lady.
Verse 26 tells us what she had tried to do. “She had endured much at the hands of many physicians,” – some of you may be able to identify with that – “endured much at the hands of many physicians, had spent all that she had,” – and now she’s in poverty – “was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse.” That is not an advertisement for the first century Galilean medical association. They didn’t help. But you do understand, don’t you, that no one was ever actually cured of a disease until the last few years of the nineteenth century, because they didn’t even understand the pathology of disease or illness.
So physicians didn’t really help; and the more elevated ones, according to the Talmud, used some kind of toxins and astringents to supposedly help things like this. But the more common formulas you will be very surprised at. The prescription for a woman who had this problem, according to the Talmud, was to carry the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen bag in the summer, and to carry the ashes of an ostrich egg in a cotton bag in the winter. Or carry a barley corn found in donkey dung, or drink wine with alum and crocuses, or wine with onions. Not very helpful. No wonder she couldn’t get any help.
By the way, Mark says that; Luke left that part out. Luke, being a physician, exercised some discretion, and Luke says she was incurable. But nonetheless, she had spent all of her money, whether on the famous doctors who served the rich, or the fakers who exploited the poor, the result was the same; all her money was out of her pocket into the physician’s pocket, and she was worse.
She had heard about Jesus’ healing power. She believed it. She violated the acceptable boundaries of her tradition and the Old Testament, and she went to the crowd. And she would have had to have rubbed herself against people – who knows how many – defiling them all ceremonially, although her disease was not contagious, but ceremonially as she worked her way through the crowd.
Trying to avoid disclosure and further embarrassment and resentment by the people, verse 27 says, “After hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak,” hoping to avoid notice, but with a strong faith. To overcome her natural embarrassment and fear of public shame, she kind of sneaks her way in – maybe she had her face covered – and she touched His cloak. Luke says she touched the fringe of His cloak.
According to Numbers chapter 15 verses 37 and following, the Jews were to put tassels on the bottom of their cloaks, to mark them as those who belong to God. And you remember the Pharisees, wanting to parade their supposed devotion to God, enlarged their tassels, according to Matthew 23, and verse 5 – a part of their hypocritical ostentation. But Jesus wore the traditional robe with the traditional tassels on the bottom.
The word “touch” is actually “to cling to,” “to grasp,” “to hold on to.” She says to herself in verse 28, “If I just touch His garments, if I just grasp His garments, I will get well.” Again, there’s no doubt here. There’s no lack of faith. There’s no equivocation. “If I can just cling to the fringe of His robe, if I can grasp it.” And it would be a desperate clutching with all thoughts swirling in her mind about being where she shouldn’t be, contaminating people, the embarrassment of it. But if she could just hang on to that, she believed she will get well.
This is not superstition about a robe. This is not some kind of magic. The healing was instant, verse 29. “I will get well,” she said. Why did she have such confidence? Because of the many healings that had been done. And you remember the Bible tells us that He healed all who came to Him. In other words, “I don’t have to expose myself publicly. I don’t have to be seen. I can crawl in on the bottom, on the ground, under the vision of everybody and just grab a tassel, there’s so much power in Him.”
“Immediately the flow of her blood,” – Luke says – “the hemorrhage was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her infliction.” Time froze, the world stood still for her in that moment. The bleeding stopped. The physical problem was solved.
But not the social. And what about the spiritual? What do we see here about Jesus? He was accessible; you could walk right up to Him. He was available to go into your life to the degree that you needed Him there. And He was interruptible. But I want to add another word, it’s a fourth word and it’s the last point I want you to see. He was really indomitable, indomitable. I love that word. That means He took charge of this woman’s destiny.
There’s a relentlessness in Him right now. Verse 30 again begins by repeating the word “immediately.” “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?’”
It’s an amazing revelation, absolutely amazing. Immediately she was healed, and immediately Jesus felt the power go out of Him. That’s a stunning reality, an amazing revelation.
Listen, His power is personal. I think we can think of God as some kind of massive, cosmic force. We can maybe overextend the notion of His impassability. To say that God is impassable means that He is not effected by what men do or do not do. But that does not mean that He does not feel every expression of power, whether it’s power expressed in grace, or power expressed in wrath, whether it’s sanctifying power, glorifying power, justifying grace, He feels the power. Luke 8:46 says, “I was aware that power had gone out of Me.” The expulsion of divine power that comes from Him into the life of that woman, Jesus actually experienced. He experienced the power flow that created the woman’s body new; it replaced the old with a brand new organ system.
This is rich insight into the reality that our God is not detached. He is not unfeeling in the sense that He has no personal connection to us. While He is unaltered by what men do, He is still personally engaged in every act of power. I told you, people like to say I have a personal relationship with Jesus. Let me tell you something. Everybody who has ever lived has a personal relationship with Jesus. He is personally involved in their redemption, or He is personally involved in their judgment. Every expression of power and every expression of deliverance is an experience that He feels. No one receives His power into his life without His personal involvement.
When the Bible talks about Him holding up everything, upholding, Hebrews 1, “upholding everything by the Word of His power,” that is something He personally does. He is not some kind of emotionless, unfeeling, divine force, bringing it down for the sake of time to where we live. We know that we are called, and justified, and sanctified, and one day glorified by a living union with Jesus Christ. “So that I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” He is fully involved in my life, working out His spiritual work of salvation to its fullness and final completion in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who is intimately involved in my life.
This is what it means to be in Christ, doesn’t it, in living union with Him. This ends all magic, all superstition, all healing by touching relics and television sets, nonsense. The work of the living Lord on behalf of sinners is personal. He felt the power flow out of Him when He healed that woman. He felt the power flow out of Him when He saved you. He feels the flow of power into your life as He sanctifies you. And He’ll feel the power that takes you into glory. This is intimate, personal involvement with every one of us. And He feels the power of His judgment that falls on the ungodly.
But for this woman, whose heart He knew, because in John 2:25, it says He knows everything that’s in the man’s heart, a woman’s heart. But on this occasion, He has more work to do; and this is what’s indomitable about Him. This woman had a place in the purpose of God, a place in the family of God. This was one of the chosen, this was one of God’s sheep. Remember John 10, “My sheep hear My voice. They know Me; they don’t listen to strangers.” And here He is about to call one of God’s chosen, whom the Father is drawing, to Himself.
This is the indomitable attitude of Christ who is never satisfied with a superficial answer, but presses all the way to the issue of salvation. A good lesson for us in our accessibility, and availability, and interruptibility, always objective should be that we don’t know what He knows who the elect are to bring the truth of salvation to those people in need.
So with that in mind, He says, “Who touched My garments?” He didn’t ask the question for information, but to draw her out of the crowd. It could be phrased, “Who are you who touched My garment?” He is pursuing the sinner. Luke 19:10, “He’s come to pursue, to seek, and save,” the inexhaustible grace that seeks not the sinner’s temporal fulfillment, but spiritual fulfillment. Here is irresistible grace. This is irresistible grace. This is the effectual calling. This is the irrepressible, resolute, resolved, undaunted Savior, seeking the soul of one whose name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world.
Well, His disciples, in fashion true to form, said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” This is a pressure situation. The verb here, sunthlibō. Thlibō means “to compress,” “to jam.” Sun, that adds the preposition at the front that intensifies it.
He’s crushed, crammed in by this crowd. And the obvious question from a human viewpoint – because, listen, there’s been no dialogue, right? In the story so far, we know what she thought, and we know what He thought; but nobody said anything, so nobody knows. She knows she’s been healed; He knows she’s been healed. He knows there’s more to do in her life, just as there was more to do in the demoniac’s life on the other side of the lake; and that’s why they went over there. He wasn’t finished with her either. But only the two of them knew, and she didn’t know what the end of the purposes of God were yet. She could have gone away healed.
But there was more. It would have taken, perhaps, time for her to convince people that she was not unclean anymore. Bringing her out of the crowd and declaring her to be clean would then open up the doors for her. But there was something even beyond that. “Jesus” – verse 32 – “looked around to see the woman who had done this.” Used the word peri, which we use for “perimeter.” He just looked all around to find this woman. And finally she was willing to reveal herself. Luke adds that everybody was denying, “It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me.” “But the woman fearing and trembling of what had happened to her.” Let me stop there for a minute.
This is not the fear of embarrassment. This not the fear of hostility from the crowd, because she touched them in the process of getting to Him. This is holy terror. This is holy fear. She’s not afraid because of her offense, she is afraid because she’s aware of what has happened to her. And what has happened to her is she has just been healed in a split second, and she knows it, and she therefore knows what Jesus had been saying all along, and what Mark is trying to let us know, that this is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. She is in the presence of divinity or deity. This is not human embarrassment, she got pass that. This is holy fear.
This is the kind of fear that Manoah had when he came home and said to his wife, “We’re going to die because I saw the Lord.” Or the fear that Ezekiel had, terrifying him so that he falls into a kind of semi-coma in the first chapter of his great book. Or the fear that Isaiah experienced in chapter 6 when he had a vision of God high and lifted up, and the antiphonal proclamation of the angels that He is holy, holy, holy, holy, and he pronounced a curse on himself. Or the kind of fear that sent John the apostle after his first vision to the ground like a dead man.
And by the way, it’s the very same kind of fear that we saw back in chapter 4, verse 41, when they were coming across on the lake and the storm came, it says they were afraid when Jesus stilled the storm, verse 41, “They became very much afraid.” They were more afraid of God in their boat than the storm outside their boat. It’s intimidation by the presence of deity.
And that becomes more evident in what she does. “She came and fell down before Him.” Everybody knew what that meant. You didn’t do that unless you were bowing to someone greater than yourself. Jews didn’t bow to anybody. They didn’t bow to anybody. They didn’t have a king. They bowed only to God.
She collapses, fully aware of the terror of being a sinner in the presence of the Lord, a posture that begs for mercy for her sin. And then she has the opportunity to make a public confession. In verse 33, she told Him the whole truth. Told her whole story: the confession of her sickness, the confession of her faith, the confession of her healing, the confession of her need for mercy.
In fact, Luke says, “She declared it in the presence of all the people.” So everybody around heard about her story. This is an open public confession, isn’t it? She’s confessing Him before men, and to be confessed before His Father in heaven.
How do we know this was a real conversion? Again I tell you, she believed everything that could be believed of what Jesus said, as far as we know. But the capstone comes in verse 34 in His response: “And He said to her, ‘Daughter.’” Hmm, daughter? There’s a word to dispel fear, isn’t it? This is the only time in the New Testament that a woman is so addressed by Jesus: “Daughter. Daughter.”
Matthew chapter 9 says He added, “Be of good comfort, relax, rest.” “How can You call her Your daughter? Is she a child of God? A daughter of God?” “Yes, your faith has made you well,” says the text. The Greek verb is sōzō, “to save.” It’s the word used in the Scripture for salvation. “Your faith literally has saved you.”
There’s another word for strictly healing, iaomai. This word, I think in this case, needs to be translated the way we’re used to translating it: “saved.” Jesus healed the people who had no faith; He healed people who had faith. But Jesus doesn’t save people with no faith. This woman seems to demonstrate a faith which brings her into the category of being a child of God, addressed as, “Daughter, your faith has saved you,” He says. And then this: “Go in” – what? – “peace.” Jesus doesn’t throw that around. Peace belongs only to those who have made their peace with God.
Here is a woman who has a need, knows there’s no answer on a human level. Here is a woman who is humbled. She knows she’s a sinner. She lives with the symbol of her sin every day of her life for twelve years. She has literally gone through all of the ceremonial things that you can imagine again, and again, and again. The idea of sin and corruption is clear to her. She can’t do anything about it.
She comes in faith, unwavering confidence that He can heal her. And then she knows whose presence she’s in, and falls at His feet in worship, and is called a daughter, told to be comforted, affirmed that she can “go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” Recovered back to health, recovered back to society, recovered back to her family, recovered back to the synagogue and back to God.
Life had been hard for her. The word “affliction” here, mastigos, it means “a whip,” “a lash,” and “a scourge.” It’s the word used for the instrument by which Jesus was scourged. She had lived a very hard life; and now everything was new. Eusebius, in his ecclesiastical history, refers to a statue of this woman, said to be erected on the side of her house. She’s associated with this story in tradition.
Listen, aren’t you glad that our Lord is accessible to you whenever you need Him, available to get involved in your life? Aren’t you glad that He cares about you in a personal way, and that He is interruptible? No matter what He’s doing, He will always respond to you when you come to Him in prayer. And He’s inexhaustible really in completing spiritual purpose in your life.
Do you understand that He comes to you in an indomitable, inexhaustible, and relentless work that is being done. And Philippians 1:6 says, “When He begins it, He” – what? – “He finishes it, He finishes it,” if you believe. “And that’s why these things are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing might have” – what? – “life in His name.” Now, meanwhile, Jairus stands by; and we’ll get to his story next week.
Father, we thank You for the time that we’ve been able to spend today with our Lord. We’re thankful for the blessedness of moments spent on the shore of Galilee, as it were, moments spent with this man and his broken heart over his daughter and his faith in Christ, and with this woman and her expression of faith. We’re so thankful that the Scripture lives. How wonderful it is to go back, not to bring the Bible into modern times. What a travesty that is. But to go back and relive the scenes so the Scripture means now what it meant then.
We thank You for the work that You’re doing in our lives. We thank You that by a holy decree of sovereign God, salvation was planned for us, and Your power has gone out to make it happen. Power has flowed from You through the work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate us, convert and transform us, and now to sanctify us, and one day to glorify us. For this we give You praise, in Christ’s name. Amen.
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