Following my stroke in 2012, the doctors thought it necessary that I be on a blood thinner—Aspirin. But I wanted to return to normal, as much as I could, and an opportunity to travel came up. I checked with the doctors and they were ok with it, but wanted me to take another blood thinner. This one was super fun as it required shots in the stomach! Good times! The morning of the trip, I managed the shot. Put a Band-Aid in place and headed for the airport.
Steph, my wife, was able to be see me to the gate and I boarded for what turned out to be an uneventful flight. We landed and I started to get ready to leave the plane and noticed something on my shirt. In fact, it was rather significant. It was a growing spot of blood. My blood! It was looking like I had been stabbed! Well, this is inconvenient. I hope nobody notices this. I need help.
I crouched off the plane and into the nearest bathroom…with everybody else on the plane! I needed to do a quick exam and reconnoiter the situation. I discovered that I had bleed through my bandage as well as my shirt and was still bleeding, through the shot hole! I moved up to the sink and casually start trying to deal with the blood on my shirt and tuck in some paper towels to stem the bleeding. I am hoping that nobody is noticing the mess, but I need help…
Sometimes we don’t want to be noticed, but we need to be noticed. We need attention because we are in trouble. In a world of flash and novelty and popularity, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Nobody seems to notice the ordinary or those in trouble because they are so focused on themselves and their own mess. It is in the quiet hidden mess that we need help and hope. It is in the quiet mess that we wonder…am I noticed? Does anybody care?
In this short three-week series, we will see that while we may not be noticed by the world, we are noticed by God. In our ordinary, messy, sometimes mundane, lives, He shows up with help and hope! If you have your Bible or electronic device, meet me in Luke 8. Let’s consider three questions you should ask when you don’t want to be noticed, but you need help.
First, let me give you some background and context for today’s story. In verse 41, an important man named Jairus approaches Jesus asking for help. He is urgent because his only daughter is very sick and is dying. Jairus is a ruler of the synagogue. He is important and a leading figure in the community. We tend to expect God to do important things for important people, but what about me? I don’t have a big title or an important role, but I do have big problems and big needs. I don’t necessarily want anybody to know, but I want to be noticed. I don’t want pity, but I would like some relief. To Jairus, Jesus seems to respond immediately and starts a journey with him. But it is not a fast journey.
Luke 8:42b—As Jesus went, the people pressed around him.
This is not surprising as Jesus was a curiosity and everyone wanted to get a glimpse of what He was up to. The crowd Pressed or “crushed” Him. Imagine a thick mass of bodies pressing in, the pace is slow and difficult.
Now, the story…there is a second person who needs urgent help. It is a nameless woman who has no title and no desire to be noticed. Here is the first question you need to ask when you don’t want to be noticed, but you need help.
Are You Willing To Take A Risk? (43-44)
Luke 8:43—And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone.
We are introduced to a woman who has been dealing with an illness for 12 years! It is some type of abnormal discharge, likely uterine bleeding. Here is the big issue with her situation, it would violate Jewish purity laws—she would be viewed as “unclean.” Not only was this a physical inconvenience, it had social consequences.[i] The “unclean” person is basically banished from all social contact.[ii] She would be restricted in her community interaction. (Note—to touch an “unclean” person is to become “unclean” yourself). She would have been shut out of fellowship and religious life. It would be both embarrassing and inconvenient. Her life would be one of isolation.
And though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone—human options have been exhausted and now she is desperate, seemingly out of options. She is out of hope. It is hard to imagine your future beyond your current circumstances. She has spent all her money in search for relief. We all have spent our money on things that do not work.[iii] What are you spending your money on in search of relief? In search for satisfaction and fulfillment? What would you risk?
Luke 8:44—She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.
Trying to be stealthy and unnoticed, she works her way through the crowd, thinking—what do I have to lose? She reached out and touched the fringe of his garment. This is likely a tassel on the end of the square garment that was thrown over one’s left shoulder and hung down the back (Numbers 15:38ff).[iv] Its purpose was to remind the Israelites of their covenant with God and to obey the commands (Numbers 15:38-39; Deut. 22:12). Perhaps it reminded the woman of God’s mighty power as well.[v] What she was doing was risky. She was among people and touching them and reaching for Jesus. Are you willing to take a risk? Are you willing to be stretched beyond your comfort zone? Are you willing to be moved well beyond what you believe reasonable, fair, or convenient? This unknown lady took a risk.
She risked and reached and here is the result: and immediately her discharge of blood ceased—it worked!!! Wow! We are often surprised when something actually works. Are you willing to take a risk? There is a second question when we don’t want to be noticed, but you need help.
Are You Reaching For The Right Resource? (45-46)
Luke 8:45—And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!”
The woman was trying to escape notice. She knew the religious people in the crowd would have been angry if they knew her story and that she was infecting them with her uncleanness. Jesus knows power has gone out. He is not seeking knowledge, but is asking for the person to reveal herself.[vi] All denied—No one stepped up to admit anything. Peter responds—Seriously? Are you kidding? How are we supposed to know, since you are being squeezed from every direction![vii]
Luke 8:46—But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.”
Jesus is God. He is sovereign. He knows, He is not seeking information here. Jesus wants to bring the woman out into the open. He knows that doing so will be good for her, but necessary for her that her healing be widely known.[viii] Now the woman is desperate, but undoubtedly humiliated by her illness, and wants relief and anonymity.[ix] She took a risk and reached for Jesus. In our moments of desperation, when we need relief, we will reach for something that we think can help us—fix us, numb us, change us or our circumstances. There are a lot of wrong things to reach for. There is only one right thing to reach for, Jesus.
Apparently, I do not react well to certain medicines. It was spring break and I was supposed to go to the beach with a friend. The Thursday before the trip and had my wisdom teeth removed. That pretty much ended the weekend for me. My Dad was trying to help me in the house and I started to feel light headed and was reaching for a recently fell tree stump to steady me. As I was leaning towards it, Dad said: “Don’t touch that it is covered with resin!” I adjusted my lean and ended up on the ground. My helpful Dad said he would go unlock the door and return to help. Reaching for the wrong thing may put you in a position that you do not desire! In fact, you may be in a worse position than where you started.
Jesus is the way. Reach for Him. In Him, you will find the fulfillment and satisfaction that you are looking for.
Are You Willing To Declare Your Transformation? (47-48)
Luke 8:47—And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.
What must she be thinking? Not going “unnoticed” anymore. Her actions are no longer hidden. She is exposed. The woman approaches Jesus in a manner that shows respect and a desire for mercy. Before everyone, she explains what she had done, why she had done it, and how she had been healed. Everyone now knew[x] her story of sickness to wellness, from unclean to clean, from unhealthy to healthy.
NOTE: Jesus has initiated and the woman has responded. She responded to an opportunity to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Have you responded? How should you respond?
Romans 10:9-11--because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
If you desire positive transformation in your life, respond to Jesus by…
Then—go public with your story of His goodness in your life. What has He done to transform your situation? We are living in a dark world that desperately needs help and hope. Your story will bring light to others. It is vital that you declare His goodness, kindness, and favor to you to others! Realize the opportunity for a connection with Jesus did not come without a cost. His words seem to indicate that the healing of the women cost Him something.
Luke 8:46—I perceive that power has gone out from me
Understand—rescue and redemption always have a cost. There is a price to pay. Jesus willingly paid it for you!
1 Peter 3:18--For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
Luke 8:48—And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
Following the woman’s declaration, Jesus responds with gentleness. He calls her daughter—Which not only shows value, it also reveals that she is now part of the family of God. She has been restored physically, socially, and spiritually.[xi] She went looking for physical relief, but got something more, something greater! Sometimes our aim and expectations are too low. God wants to do much more than we can imagine. Look how Eugene Peterson captures the idea in The Message.
Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)--God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Your faith— “Faith has nothing to do with confidence in some magical properties attached to Jesus’ clothing but is trust in the divine power working through Jesus and God’s will to bring healing to brokenness.”[xii] Her faith was a fledgling faith. At this point, probably uninformed and misguided.[xiii] Nonetheless, she risked, she reached, and ultimately declared the result.
Perhaps your faith is weak or limited or maybe even on life support. Remember this: Tim Keller: “It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you.”[xiv] This means you do not have to have it all figured out to put your trust in Jesus. You do not have to be beyond all your fears and doubts to begin a journey with Jesus. What are you putting your faith in? What are you trusting to deliver you, to satisfy you, to fulfill you?
The woman has been healed completely. She is well and can go in wellness, completeness, in peace. The path to healing was a little surprising though. HEALING COMES THROUGH REVEALING! What is your next step?
1. Is there a risk I need to take?
Admitting need for help?
Are you robbing others of the blessing of blessing you?
2. Do I need to evaluate the resources I’m reaching for and relying
Who or what are you leaning on?
Are you connected to a community of believers…really?
3. Do I have a story to declare?
There is power in a story.
Imagine your future if you take your next step of faith.
This sermon was originally preached at Connect Church on October 13, 2019..
[iii]R. Kent Hughes, Luke, vol. 1 in the Preaching the Word series (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1998), 319. [iv]Morris, 178. [v]Garland, 367-68. [vi]Hughes, 317. [vii]Garland, 368. [viii]Morris, 179. [ix]Hughes, 317. [x]Morris, 179. [xi]John MacArthur, Luke 6-10 in the MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 2011), 234. [xii]Garland, 368. [xiii]Hughes, 318. [xiv]Tim Keller, The Reason For God (New York, Dutton, 2008), 234.