By Nicole VanGelder Lately I have been pondering a familiar story. It it the story of the woman who reached out, touched Jesus and was healed of a problem she had dealt with for 12 years. I read it recently and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. I’ve known the story for years, celebrated it even. But, for the first time, I imagined what it would have been like to be one of the other people in the crowd.
In case you aren’t familiar, let me recap. Jesus has a crowd of people following Him. In the crowd is a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years. (Which, by the way, would be terrible enough in our day. It was much worse for her because or the Jewish law/culture.) Not only did she have this problem, but she had spent all her money on doctors and had only gotten worse. When she heard of Jesus, she believed that He could heal her if only she could touch His clothes. So, that’s what she did. She pressed through the crowd and got close enough to touch the edge of His garment. When she did, she was healed. Jesus, feeling the power go out, stopped and asked who it was that had touched Him. The disciples thought this was a crazy question. There is a crowd of people around Him. What does He mean, who touched Him? Lots of people are touching Him! (Imagine yourself in the mall the day after Christmas. Or, have you ever gotten on a subway in Seoul? Jamey spent in South Korea. I went over to visit him twice and your sense of personal space changes.) But the Lord knew that this was a different thing altogether than the crowd around Him brushing up against Him. He looks around and the woman confesses it was her. She is afraid, but He tells her faith has healed her and she should go forth in peace, free from her suffering.
What a great story! What a miracle to celebrate. But, what about the other people in the crowd? That’s the thought that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. Here’s why:
There were all kinds of people around Jesus. Is it possible that this woman was the only one that needed a healing touch from Jesus? I don’t think so. I’m guessing there were people in that crowd in need of physical or emotional healing. People in need of hope for a specific area of their life. Yet, only the one was healed.
Maybe the problem was Jesus. Maybe the power that went out of Him to heal the woman depleted His power to much and so He had nothing left to give anyone else. Except, right after this He raises a young girl from the dead. So, oops. That can’t be it.
I’ve been around Jesus all my life, really. I became a Christian at a young age and don’t remember a time when I didn’t know about Him, know Him. I grew up in church, in a Christian family. I have been around Jesus. But, the question I am asking myself is this: Am I simply one of the crowd, close enough to touch Him, but not receiving what He has for me? Or, do I have the faith of the woman, risking to touch Him with my need exposed, expecting Him to heal me? It took risk for her to touch Him. We know this because when He asks who touched Him, she is afraid. But, her fear didn’t stop her.
You see, faith isn’t the absence of fear! Quite the opposite, actually. Faith is reaching out in spite of your fear. It is in moments of fear that you can really show your faith. Like love, faith is often reduced to an emotional feeling in our minds. (And it can be that! And when it is, that is awesome!) Faith is shown in the way we behave, not in our emotional state.
Faith is shown when we aren’t simply content being near Jesus (although that is so very, very good!). Faith is when we move past our fear and reach out and touch Jesus, expecting miraculous results. We already know that Jesus has what we need. We are already close to Him. The only thing left is to stir up our courage, reach out in faith, and let our lives be transformed by His power.
He is a good God. He has what we need. He even wants to give it to us. Let’s reach for it and see what happens!
Like what you read? More from Pastor Nicole can be found on www.NicoleVanGelder.com and www.JoyFilledHome.org.