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    Aug 21, 2016

    Who Touched My Clothes?

    Passage: Luke 8:26-30

    Speaker: Vivian McCarthy

    Series: What Did Jesus Ask?

    Category: Jesus' Teachings

    Keywords: bold, faith, healing

    In his encounter with the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, Jesus affirms her bold action in approaching him and touching his garment -- an act that would have been met with severe social disapproval. Her bold faith made her well.

    Just last week, someone in our congregation told me a story of a couple of people who had options – important options – laid before them.  Serious, life-altering decisions needed to be made.  It was that moment when the individuals needed to wake up and smell the coffee.  But no one would take responsibility.  No one would take action.  No one would be bold.  In fact, one of the individuals said, “I’ll just leave it in God’s hands.  God will provide.”

    Now, I’m not one to ignore the huge possibilities of God’s power and potential, but the story before us today is one that shows how we have a part to play – how we can either seize the opportunity to exercise faith and do something bold or just sit back and – well, be mousy. 

    Also last week, I read one of the God-sightings on the board in the Narthex.  It said:

    “…in the chemo labs, emergency room and surgery suites at St. Joseph’s Hospital as they keep my husband alive”

    Is it possible that God could have healed this woman’s husband without their going to the hospital, without needing the skills and expertise and caring hearts of the hospital staff?  Well, of course!  But God has gifted those doctors and nurses and researchers to do the work that has kept that husband well – that has saved his life.  Why in the world would we not reach out and touch those who have the God-given gifts to offer healing?

    Wilfredo de Jesús, pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago, is the writer of this week’s chapter in the book What Did Jesus Ask?  He begins his chapter this way:

    There is tremendous power in human touch.  And yet research shows that Americans tend to be a bit touch-phobic.  According to Psychology Today, healthy human touch induces oxytocin, the “bonding hormone,” which is renowned for reducing stress, lowering cortisol levels and increasing a sense of trust and security.  This gives a whole new meaning to the words healing touch.  Jesus, the Great Physician, understood the incredible divine potential in human contact to the extent that in Mark 5:30, he poses a question that makes him seem, at first, a bit haphephobic himself.[1]

    He goes on to point out the responses of the crowd (in the Lucan version of this story) and the disciples – the only ones to speak in the Markan version.  Not me!  Not me!  Then he describes how the disciples begin to criticize the motive behind the question.  Everyone seems to be afraid of being chastised, so they become defensive.

    Why in the world were they defensive?  Remember that a woman who was bleeding was unclean.  She probably had to announce her very private infirmity so that people wouldn’t accidentally brush up against her – like a leper.  Rev. de Jesús says that “her presence in the crowd in iitself was an affront to decency and custom.  She would have had to go to great lengths to conceal herself enough to get anywhere near Jesus.”[2]

    Once again, Jesus sees through the surface issue to the heart of the matter.  There is an urgency in his looking for the person who touched his robe.  “With the same tenacity that she pursues Jesus, he pursues [the woman].”[3]

    Dr. deJesús writes the following:

    [Jesus’] question demands an answer – and gives her a voice.  In spite of her quest to blend in, he calls her out of the crowd.  Jesus elevates her for her amazing faith.  She painfully confesses her secret suffering and hidden healing.  Her testimony glorifies God, and the truth sets her free from the stigma she carried.  ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you,’ Jesus says.  ‘Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’

    …She is (now) … a daughter.  She is reminded of her place in the family, of the unconditional love of her heavenly Father.  With a simple question, Jesus provokes her from fear to faith, from guilt to glory, from pain to peace.  With a simple touch, the woman is healed from a lifetime of open emotional, physical and spiritual wounds.  The edge of a cloak flips her world upside down.[4]

    I have some questions of my own for today:  When did faith become mamby-pamby?  When did we lose the boldness that this woman displayed?  When did we stop expecting things to change when we actually stepped out in faith?  When we were bold enough to reach out and touch Jesus’ robe?  When we were not afraid to defy the crowd and the culture?  What is holding us back?

    Pretty much every time we depend on our faith and move out boldly, new life is the result.  Anybody want to touch Jesus with me today?

    [1] Elizabeth Dias, Editor.  What Did Jesus Ask?  Copyright © 2015 by Time Inc. Books.  From Chapter Who Touched My Clothes? Page 93.

    [2] Ibid., page 94

    [3] Ibid., page 95.

    [4] Ibid.