"It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." FAITH! Although we display faith daily, it is something we will probably never be able to make sense of or never be able to fully understand. But the Bible clearly states, "Without it, it is impossible to please God." No one's faith will be tried and tested like that of a Christian. So as disciples of Christ, we must continually strive to reach great faith. And, it's not going to be easy! But whom better to learn that lesson from than the original twelve disciples? They went through all the varying degrees of faith. Strong faith, no faith, weak faith, little faith, and eventually great faith.
The disciples had walked with Jesus almost three years, yet they really didn't realize who Jesus actually was. Because many times, Jesus would tell them to do some things or Jesus would do some things or say some things that they really didn't understand. But it's a great thing we can step out on Faith in Jesus without really understanding.
For instance, after Peter had fished all night and caught nothing, Jesus told him, "Launch out into the deep and let your nets down for a draught." Peter, being a master fisherman, he knew that once the sun was shining on the waters, that was the worst time to fish. So he really didn't understand why Jesus had told him to do that, yet, he did it anyway because he had a little faith in this man called Jesus. And as we're reminded, it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains. So Peter really didn't have to understand as long as he had that bit of faith. According to the Scriptures, Romans 10:17, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Faith comes by hearing the word of God. Although Peter wouldn't fully realize it until later, he had heard the words of God; and those words, at the time were, "launch out into the deep." And you know the rest of the story, they caught so many fish that the boats were sinking. That is what faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ can do.
Throughout the Bible, there are many of these types of faith stories with like results, where battles were won because of someone's faith; blessings were bestowed because of someone's faith; bodies were made whole because of someone's faith. And not all times was the faith displayed by the persons receiving the blessings. One of our regular Sunday School Scripture states, "Through faith the elders obtained good reports." Many people and generations were blessed because the elders displayed faith in God. A servant was healed because a centurion displayed faith in Jesus. A widow's son was raised from the dead, not because of her faith, but because Jesus displayed faith in Himself, in His Father. And then there were times when Jesus specifically told others, "Thy faith hath made thee whole."
Bartimaeus was a blind beggar on the street corner every day. One day he heard a loud noise and trampling feet. He asked somebody, "What's going on; what's all the excitement?" He was told Jesus of Nazareth is passing by with a multitude of people following Him. Now, this would have been an opportune time for Bartimaeus, more people meant more coins in his box. But he passed up that opportunity for an even greater one when he cried out in faith, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" And because of his faith, he was able to look upon Jesus as Jesus said the words, "Thy Faith Hath Made Thee Whole." Because of my faith, I want to believe that whole not only meant physically healed. Before the healing, Bartimaeus knew his place and that place was a street corner. But after the healing, he had his sight, was able to leave that street corner and follow Jesus which would lead to his spiritual healing as well.
The one of the ten lepers who returned to give thanks to Jesus had cried out from a distance, "Jesus, have mercy on us." That leper knew his place; and his place was at least one hundred paces away from Jesus. But because of his faith, he was able to fall right at Jesus' feet as he heard the words, "Thy Faith Hath Made Thee Whole." And I want to believe that whole meant a new spiritual relationship between that Samaritan and that Jew.
Today, my story is going to focus on one of my favorite faith stories of the Bible, where a woman knew her place; but out of desperation, she forgot it. But because of her faith, she was also able to hear the words, "Thy Faith Hath Made Thee Whole." I'm talking about the woman with the "bad issue of blood". This story is a miracle that happened on the way to a miracle. Jairus, a synagogue ruler had approached Jesus asking Him to come to his home to heal his little daughter who was lying at the point of death. While Jesus was on His way there He encountered the woman with the bad issue of blood.
There are two things that struck me as amazing right away in these two stories. First of all, they both involved the number twelve; and while twelve was a very short period of time in one story; it was a very long period of time in the other story. Jairus' little daughter was only twelve years old and she was dying. That is a very very short period of time for someone's life to come to an end. The woman with the bad issue of blood had been suffering and bleeding every day for twelve years. That is a very very long period of time for someone to suffer. The second thing is Jairus' degree of faith. Jairus displayed much faith in coming to Jesus; but it wasn't the great faith that the centurion had. The centurion had sent Jesus a message saying, "I'm not worthy for you to be in my house, but if you'll just say the words where you are, my servant will be healed." Jairus' faith required that Jesus come to his home to heal his daughter. If it had not, then maybe Jesus wouldn't have been on that road and maybe the woman with the bad issue of blood wouldn't have had that opportunity to come to Jesus. Some people call those things coincidence; but I choose to call them God's providence because I know it's God's will that all people are saved, even if they suffer from a bad issue of blood.
So Jesus is on His way to Jairus' house and He is followed by the disciples and a multitude of people. And when I say multitude, I mean that they are so crammed packed around Jesus that He could hardly breathe. This is why sometimes He just had to escape the crowds and go off into the mountains; for His own safety. So they are walking through the streets when all of a sudden Jesus stops and asks a question. Again, this is something that the disciples don't understand. He asked, "Who touched my clothes?" The Scriptures says the disciples rebuked Jesus. I can imagine them thinking, "Are you serious? Who touched you? Out of all these people here we supposed to know who touched you? Come on Jesus, Be for real!" But, Jesus wasn't asking a question to gain knowledge. He's omniscient. He already knows everything. He knew who touched Him. And He knew that the touch was different than any other touch He had received while walking through that crowd. He knew He had received a "touch of faith". And He knew that "touch of faith" was not to His body, just to His clothes. He knows every little detail about every little thing. Isn't He amazing! His awesomeness just blows my mind!
So the disciples are standing there baffled by a question that wasn't really a question at all, because what Jesus was saying in so many words was, "the woman who touched me, it's okay to come forward. Show yourself." And the Scriptures says she came forth trembling with fear. She had a right to fear. She had forgotten her place! She wasn't supposed to be in that crowd. According to the law, way back in the time of Leviticus, this woman was unclean. And anything she touched or came in contact with, she defiled, she made unclean. So can you imagine how these people would feel about this woman sneaking her way into the crowd among them. And not only that, but touching Jesus, their Master, their Savior, their teacher, their healer, technically making Him unclean? They probably would have wanted to stone her to death. But here Jesus in all His love, mercy, and kindness tells her "it's okay, come forward, you have a story to tell." And what an amazing story it was!
This poor woman had been suffering from a blood disorder that would be something like a menstrual cycle that had not stopped in twelve long years. Because of this disorder, this plague, she was a broken woman. And when I say broken, I mean it in every sense of the word. She was broken physically because the disease was very debilitating. Her poor body had just wasted away to nothing. If she was one age, she looked twice that age. She was a pitiful sight to behold. She was broken emotionally because she could not have a normal relationship with any of her family or her friends. And a man was totally out of the question. We have some women that can say they are looking for Mr. Right; this woman couldn't even find Mr. Wrong. To all of male society she was ostracized. She was an outcast! No one wanted to have anything to do with her. She was separated from everyone. She was all alone. And what's worse than that is she was broken spiritually. She could not go into the temple; she could not go into the synagogue to worship. She was separated from God; and there is nothing worse than being separated from God. But through it all, this woman had hope. She was determined to find someone to heal her. And because of that determination, she was also broken financially. She had spent every dime she had on doctors; only for us to hear from Luke, that "no physician could heal her." And maybe she wasn't supposed to be healed by any of those physicians.
This woman had gone to some of the best doctors in that day. And although their remedies would sound like quack remedies to us, they were some of the best cures for a bad issue of blood. They had crushed the alum, crocus, and gum together and put it in wine for her to drink; they had boiled the persian onions in wine and given that to her to drink; they had mixed the different kinds of herbs with wine and given it to her to drink; they had even tried the scare remedy, where they put this woman in the middle of the road with a glass of wine in her right hand and had someone to come up from behind her to try to frighten the disease out of her. But none of these remedies worked. In fact, Mark tells us, "her condition grew worse." And I can imagine so. On top of the blood disorder, she was probably now an alcoholic, drinking all that wine!
But, what would seem like a hopeless situation now, still was not. This woman had heard of a man. A man who healed lepers, made blind men see; lame men walk; dumb men talk; a man whom she would come to know as the Great Physician, Doctor Jesus. A doctor who would not cost her one red cent; a doctor who wouldn't tell her, "if you had just come to me sooner, I probably could have healed you." But, a doctor who would tell her, "Thy Faith hath made thee whole."
So this woman, whom some books call Veronica, waited in the wings to see Jesus. And can you imagine her distress in seeing Jesus surrounded by a multitude of people? But, what initially seemed bad was meant for good. The multitude provided her with the cover she needed to reach Jesus undetected. As she worked her way through that crowd, there was no malice in her heart; and there were no thoughts of defiling the people whom she brushed up against. She was desperate and her only thoughts were, "If I could just touch His clothes I shall be whole." Veronica was stepping out on her faith! And her faith, although it was imperfect, made her whole. For as soon as she touched the hem of Jesus' garment, she was healed. The Scriptures say, "And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up." The bleeding stopped without a single word being spoken from the mouth of Jesus. But Jesus, immediatedly knowing that God had allowed virtue to flow from Him, asked, "Who touched my clothes?" That was His way of bringing this woman into an open confession and a more intelligent faith. The Scriptures say, "she came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth."But He already knew the truth. He knows everything! And He knew how to bring this woman into a more intelligent faith without reprimanding her.
As I mentioned earlier, Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Through her faith, Veronica hoped that she would be healed and could quietly sneak away. And if Jesus had not asked the question, then she would have left there with only a physical healing and a superstitious belief that magical powers flowed from His robe. The healing wasn't in the robe, but in the Man wearing the robe! Doctor Jesus! Hallelujah!
So do you wonder now why none of those other physicians could heal this woman? She needed more than physical healing. She had been separated from God! She needed Spiritual healing as well. And no one but Doctor Jesus could tell her, "Daughter, be of good comfort." In front of thousands of people Jesus had called this woman, Daughter. He was letting them all know at that very moment, Veronica was called into a relationship with Him and had been accepted into the Royal Family of God. There was nothing to separate her from God or anyone else any longer. Jesus also told her, "Go in peace." This actually means go into peace. In other words, "Be thankful for the physical healing, but as you leave, enter into the peace which I, The Prince of Peace came to bring to all those who trust in me.To all those who don't understand but are willing to step out on faith in me." What a Wonderful Savior!
For those of you who may not know, while Jesus was spending this time healing Veronica; Jairus' little twelve year old daughter died. Although that would be another story, it ties in with Faith. Can you imagine how much more Jairus' faith and the faith of the multitude would grow when Jesus would raise the little girl from the dead, rather than just heal her from the point of death? It was God's will that all those people have great faith in His Son!
And that is still God's will today! Faith is the only way to please Him. Yet, when problems arise in our lives, we don't think of faith. We look for cures in other problems. We need to stop trying to find a cure in alcohol; alcohol is a problem itself. We need to stop looking for a cure in gambling, drugs and anything else that makes the problem go away temporarily. We need to step out on faith and find the cure in Doctor Jesus.
In closing, I remember, and I'm sure most of you parents will remember doing this also. When my boys were little, I used to put them up on the table, the countertop, or any high place and I would stand back with open arms and tell them to jump. And they jumped with no fear. They knew their mother loved them and would not let them fall. Although it was impossible for them to understand, they were displaying faith. Should our faith be any less than a little child's faith? Isn't God's love greater than any mother's love? Yes! So no matter what kind of problems we are going through, no matter how high they seem to be, we need to have faith enough to jump into the arms of God, lay our heads on His bosom, and listen as He softly whispers, "Thy Faith hath made thee whole."
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