2019-3-24 If I but Touch Him…

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          March 24, 2019

“If I but Touch Him…”
Mark 5:25-34

My boyhood pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Lavonia, Georgia, Dr. Joe Renfro, was compelled time and again to declare to me this fact about our church, “I’ve never seen the beat for sickness.”  He was right.  Many of our folks endured physical sickness generally—and sometimes a fair number of our people were sick at one time.  Yet I’d like to invite him up sometime—and show him the beat.

Virtually every pew here today, and every household regularly here (including my own), holds someone who suffers physically—or has recently.  In many of these instances, the health condition is serious—and whether relatively serious or less so, some of us have suffered for a long time.  Our God speaks to our souls about this today from His Word—and I, for one, am exceedingly glad.  I hope you will be too as we hear this portion of God’s glorious Word of life to our needy souls.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

Jesus, to put it mildly, is thronged about.  A great crowd (5:21, 24) surrounds Him and presses against Him.  The larger context (5:21-43) opens with Jesus attending to Jairus, whose daughter is very sick.  As Jesus goes with Jairus to his home to care for this ailing daughter, a crowd follows—as does a certain woman in it.

Mark, by the Spirit, tells us that she has a discharge of blood—of twelve years’ duration.  Can you imagine the distresses she must daily—yea, moment by moment?  She likely is pale—and anemic—from the chronic blood loss.  She likely has lost strength—if not in fact downright weak—due to the years of insufficient blood supply.  The years of fighting this condition likely has weakened her immunity, and, thus has rendered her more prone to other sickness—thus further breaking her health.  We cannot help but sympathize with her in her condition.

She has spared nothing in her efforts to get well.  She has spent all she has to obtain treatment.  She has suffered at the hands of many physicians.  Yet, despite all of this, she is no better, but only worse.  Can you imagine her feelings about this?  She no doubt is disappointed and discouraged over this.  Certainly she hoped for better before now.  Yet she has heard of Jesus—and, presumably, what He has done for others—and the Spirit of the living God draws her into His presence.

She came up behind Jesus displaying her God-given faith with her words, “If I but touch even His garments, I shall be made well.”  She doesn’t need Him to stop what He is doing.  She doesn’t need to be singled out for special attention—though, as we read, these things will come.  She needs His healing, and she trusts that a simple reach-out-and-touch from her side will effect the cure.  She touches Him, and the hoped-for healing comes.  Immediately her flow of blood dries up, and she feels in her body that she is free of her disease.[1]  We with her may cry, “Hallelujah!” now—but the full force of that phrase must wait a brief time.

Jesus immediately turned about in the crowd and asked, “Who touched My garments?”  The disciples are incredulous.  They ask their Master, and ours, “You see the crowd pressing around You, and yet You say, ‘Who touched me?’”  Yet Jesus knows, and states (in Luke 8:46), that power has gone from Him.  Jesus’ question, of course, is rhetorical.  He, being God incarnate, knows all things, and He knows who touched Him.  He merely intends to elicit a response—which is not long coming.  Also, though power flows from Jesus to the woman, this loss of power is apparent only.  All power is His, and He has an inexhaustible supply of it.

At this exchange between Jesus and His disciples, the woman confesses all—and that with fear and trembling.  Jesus relieves her fear, addressing her tenderly and calling her “Daughter.”  He declares her well through God-given faith in Him.[2]  Then, as His parting word for now to her, He speaks peace to her troubled soul.  Thus, she leaves Jesus’ presence healed in her body and with peace flooding her soul.  Now that is wellness indeed.

How often have we felt—for ourselves or for loved ones—like this woman in her former condition?  We expend time, and substance, and effort in order to procure healing—and yet healing does not come.  We expend these, further, over a long period of time—and yet healing does not come.  What shall we do?  In short, let us bring the thing—the sickness, the weakness, the injury—to Jesus.

Let us bring the thing to Jesus not as a last resort, but as first act.  Let us not come to Him with everything and everyone else fails, but let us come to Him at the first hint of trouble.  The woman came not earlier, because she had not earlier opportunity.  We have immediate, unimpeded access to God our Healer through the new and living Way, Jesus Christ.  Let us come, and swiftly, when in need of His healing.

Let us come also trusting Him for the healing—in His time, in His way.  It may be that God wills to do a spectacular work of healing in your life and in the life of your loved one—through apparently extraordinary means.  If He work in this extraordinary way, then let us receive with thanks and praise His Name.  God, however, may will your healing in due course through apparently ordinary means.  If this be the case, then may He grant to us the patience pleasing unto Him—that we may tarry with hope and joy until our healing may come.

We must deal with one more aspect of God’s physical healing—and this may well be the elephant in the room today.  What if we are called to bear a physical thorn for long duration—like, possibly, Paul—perhaps even to the end of our earthly days?  This is the decree that none of us wants to hear—and, yet, one so luminous in Christ as Paul did in fact hear this.  Hear the entire exchange from the Lord through Paul: “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  If he calls us to bear our infirmities long-term, then He supplies His grace and perfects His power in our weakness.  In that state is great strength in Christ; God sees to it.

Now let’s apply at an even higher level.  Let’s apply to our souls’ health.  Let us remember that only Jesus can heal and cure a soul’s fundamental sin sickness.  We cannot atone for our sin.  It will kill us, and we cannot by our own resources wipe the sentence of death away.  Moreover, we apply elsewhere for ultimate relief for our sinful condition in vain.  Only Jesus can save us—but, by His grace, He does, upon our Spirit-moved, faith-empowered, cry for salvation.

Moreover, once in Jesus, He can heal those internal pains that we have incurred over the years—what I’ve heard called our secret scars.  He can heal of the sin we commit, the after-effects of it, the effects of others’ sins against us, and so much more.  Bring that thing—or those things—to Jesus too.  May He lead us to reach out to Him for His healing touch, and may we know—beyond any doubt—that He has touched us for His glory and our healing.

AMEN.

[1] The Greek word here rendered disease (mastix [mastix]) is more commonly rendered flogging—and doubtless the woman felt whipped or flogged by her long-term serious condition.

 

[2] Mark uses the Greek verb sodzo (swzw) for the woman’s healing.  The word can be translated saved, rescued, or, as here, healed.

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