Soon, the man limped back, tattered and stunned, assuming he must have misinterpreted the message. He repeated his question to the sage. 'Which way should I go to achieve success?' The sage again pointed silently in the same direction. The man obediently walked off once more. This time the 'splat' was deafening. When the man crawled back, he was bloody, broken, tattered, and irate.
'I asked you which way I should go to achieve success,' he screamed at the sage. 'I followed the direction you gave me, and all I got was splatted! No more of this pointing! Talk!'
Only then did the sage speak: 'Success is that way. Just a little past splat.'
The women who dared to touch the cloak of Jesus made it just a little past splat! She slipped through a crowd believing if she only touches the hem of Jesus’ cloak something amazing would happen. I am reminded of Isaiah’s description of seeing a vision of the Lord in the temple in Isaiah 6 hundreds of years before the earthly life of Christ and Isaiah is overwhelmed, all he sees is the hem of the robes of God almighty and he falls down declaring himself to be dead ~ “woe is me. I am ruined” Isaiah cries out (Is. 6:5). This woman, too, recognizes the power of God almighty embodied in Jesus Christ ~ rather than declaring herself dead, if only she can touch him, she will be changed, transformed. Just a litte past the splat of her life!
Most Christians quit growing in their faith too soon. They quit. There are obstacles ~ they run out of energy. We become complacent. We need to get just a little past the splat. But the splat is hard. Somebody hurt us. A commitment did not work out. Our plans are delayed because of life. How many adults would have liked to continue on in school, but life happened, and they never made it back. How many people are sidetracked in their service to the Lord, life gets in the way, there are obstacles.
Vance Havner said: “If you are a Christian, you are not a citizen of this world trying to get to heaven; you are a citizen of heaven making your way through this world. ” There are always obstacles in this world. Last spring I had to smile at Pastor Jack Mumford. Before he accepted a new position in Tustin, we had made some amazing and awesome plans for this church that were going to revolutionize the whole world J. As we began to lay the groundwork, problems rose in different areas of Sumas, we were distracted because we had to attend to other things, sort through stuff. I remember smiling when one day Jack said to me, “how come plans seem so right, but then other things get in the way?” He knew the answer. It’s called life, it’s called obstacles. God wants us to work our way through life.
Two questions: 1. What are the splats the woman overcomes to reach Jesus? 2. What does life look like just beyond the splat?
SPLAT ~ the woman is unclean! She is bleeding. There are many old testament laws against uncleanness ~ stay away from those people. Example: (Leviticus 15:19, 25-27). The past month or two we have another word handed to us conveying the idea of being unclean ~ EBOLA. Stay away. Isolate. Unclean. The book of Leviticus clearly identifies this woman’s bleeding condition as one which made her unclean…untouchable.
The woman made it just past the splat of her uncleanliness and touched Jesus. She could have been condemned for contaminating Jesus, but instead Jesus cleansed her and made her whole. What makes you unworthy in the eyes of society? your own eyes? Maybe it is that crazy thing you did in your past. Maybe it is your position in society. Or a reputation deserved or undeserved that you cannot shake. Maybe it is your race, the place you live, the lack of ability to fit into expectations of your group. Here is the thing about Jesus. A lot of people give up because they want society to change so they fit in. Jesus says, no, come directly to me, and I will change you from the inside out. If you’re waiting for the community to change so you will fit it, you will stagnate in your faith.
SPLAT ~ a large crowd is pressing forcefully upon Jesus: “As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him” (Luke 8:42). Getting to Jesus would have been no easy task for anyone. I am guessing the crowd parted, allowing Jairus, the synagogue ruler from last week’s message, direct access to the Savior. But they would not have done so for anyone of a lesser status.
Nobody notices you. You think you are a nobody. A crowd is in front of you. People quit growing in their faith because of the crowd between them and Jesus. The crowd may be a real obstacle in your path, yet the Lord knows who you are and is waiting for you. “Who touched me? Jesus asked (Luke 8:45). Go just beyond the splat of the crowd because Jesus knows who you are and will receive you!
SPLAT ~ The woman is weak. It might have been one thing for a woman to get through the crowd to Jesus who was in top physical condition. But this woman suffered from a long sickness, one which would have worn on her, making her weaker and weaker.
In our fast paced demanding world we run out of energy quickly. “Tomorrow I’ll spend more time with God” we say, but tomorrow never comes.
SPLAT ~ the woman did not want to be noticed. The woman had to reach Jesus by forcing her way through a crushing mob in a way that did not draw attention to herself: READ Luke 8:47. Upon touching the Lord’s garment, the woman was instantly healed. But the Lord wanted more for her! No doubt she intended to remain unnoticed as the crowd continued on, but Jesus would not have it this way. Astounding the disciples, Jesus stopped and inquired as to who touched Him. READ Luke 8:45.
Jesus was determined. The woman needed more than a healing ~ she needed to be changed in her spirit. I titled this message, a miracle within a miracle ~ I had in mind the bleeding woman interrupting the procession to go and heal Jairus’ daughter. As I worked out the details for this message, I think there is a more significant meaning: Jesus was not content with a mere outer healing of the woman and then let her go anonymously back to her quiet life. Jesus drew attention to the woman ~ READ Luke 8:45, then he went beyond the miracle of healing, blessing her life with peace ~ READ Luke 8:46. The miracle within the miracle is the peace of God. If the Lord touches your life and you go back to business as usual without anything else changing, as this woman thought she wanted, then you have not received the fullness of what God wants for you. An outer healing must be accompanied by an inner transformation for maturity to take place.
Let’s go just beyond the splat. This is why the words of Jesus are so important: “your faith has healed you, go in peace.” Beyond the splat is healing and peace. A miracle of healing and another miracle of peace! This is where need to go…beyond the splat! overcome obstacles to discover healing and peace! Why did Jesus single the woman out?
Just beyond the splat: Jesus would not allow the woman to have a second-class healing. Notice the changing position of the woman. Before the Splat she is behind Jesus, trying to stay out of sight. Just beyond the splat she is at the feet of Jesus, she came “trembling, and fell at his feet.”
Just beyond the Splat, Jesus did not want the woman to feel guilty. If Jesus did not talk to her she would have gone home healed but guilty. Jesus’ words, “Go in peace,” gives her permission to go home without second guessing herself. The year Sally and I were married we lived in an upstairs apartment of an old house. I had a ten speed bike I no longer wanted. One night I purposefully left it unlocked right outside our door, knowing it would be taken. The next morning it was gone as I expected. Ever since then I have felt guilty for not putting a free sign on the bike instead of setting up the unknown person to “steel” the bike. Jesus made sure the woman knew the gift was free. Jesus chose to heal her,
Just beyond the splat. Why did Jesus single out the woman? He did not want the woman or anyone else to misunderstand the real cause of the woman’s healing ~ her faith. If Jesus had not identified faith as the true source of the woman’s healing, it may have been thought to be more like magic…. “If I touch Jesus I will be healed.” Jesus wanted to underscore faith. The woman acted on what she believed. Faith is putting hands and feet on what we believe!
Just beyond the Splat, Jesus did not allow the woman’s faith to be anonymous. A lesson I learned from Pastor George Teshera when I served an internship with him in the early 80s ~ when somebody made a commitment to the Lord, he would give guidance in disciplines to grow in their faith such as reading the Bible, finding a church home, etc. And then he always told them, “Before this day is over, tell at least one other person the commitment you made today.” Pastor George wisely knew the importance of not keeping your new faith/new commitment to yourself.
The reason Rom. 9:10 says, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Because it is a personal decision that you make known to people around you….When you make it to the other side of the splat, your life is so changed that the people around you will know there is a difference… the miracle within the miracle is that Jesus enlarged the healing to include a transformation of her life so that the world would know that she was a woman of faith.
Luke 8 has been a challenge to grow in your faith. The bleeding woman is an ordinary person transformed by Jesus Christ. She shows us what it means to go through the obstacles of life, making it through her own unworthiness, the crowd demanding Jesus’ attention, her weakness, and her desire to remain anonymous. She was healed when she touched the hem of the master’s cloak.
Then the more amazing miracle within the miracle took place. Jesus singled the woman out and completed the woman’s inward transformation. On the other side of the splat, Jesus showed the woman how important she was, relieved her of guilt by assuring her the healing was a gift of grace, commended her for her act of faith as the reason for the healing, and openly applauded her in public as he sent her on her way in peace.
Don’t let the obstacles of your world stop you from going directly to Jesus. You will grow in Christ as you make your way just beyond the splat ~ your own weakness and sense of unworthiness, feeling small and helpless in a crowd, your own desire to be changed just a little bit. May you grow in your faith as you experience the miracle within the miracle, outward and inward transformation. May the words of Jesus ring true in your life: “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” Amen.