It's Not Magic
Intro – A lady had dressed up in a genie costume for the office Halloween Party. When she went to leave, her car would not start. As she walked away, a colleague pulled up and asked what was wrong. She said her car stalled. He said, “Well, just fold your arms -- and blink!” If you remember I Dream of Genie you know what he meant. Magic! Triggered by an exaggerated blink!
That’s God to many people – magic! That’s religion. Blink, and God is obligated to do His thing? God as a magic dispenser. That’s the issue Jesus addresses in our text. Luke is continuing to show Jesus’ authority -- answers for skeptics. Here we have 2 stories in 1. Jesus starts off in v. 40 toward the home of Jairus whose daughter is deathly ill. But He gets interrupted and responds in a wonderful way to a woman with a great need.
I. An Insoluble Problem
V. 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.” There is no human cure for this woman. She has tried everything. What even she doesn’t know is that hers is a 2-fold issue.
The physical problem is obvious. She had a discharge of blood -- a persistent uterine hemorrhage. The cause is unclear, but it was serious and over 12 years no one had been able to help. Mark 5:26 adds that she: “ had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.” This dear woman had lost her health, her wealth, and her hope to this physical malady. She had an insoluble physical problem.
And it was deeper than physical. According to Lev 15:19-30 she was ceremonially unclean, could not go to the temple or synagogue. Anyone or anything she touched was also unclean. This was not a moral issue; it was simply one of many means God used to teach that nothing short of perfection could come into God’s presence. Applied to a woman’s monthly cycle.
But for this poor woman, the condition never ended. For 12 years she had been ostracized, incapable of human contact, including a sexual relationship, by law. Had she been married, she was probably divorced by now. Num 5:1-3 required isolation, equivalent to leprosy for one in her condition: “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Command the people of Israel that they put out of the camp everyone who is leprous or has a discharge and everyone who is unclean through contact with the dead. 3 You shall put out both male and female, putting them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camp, in the midst of which I dwell.” This woman lived with constant embarrassment, humiliation and isolation. Normal life is impossible. She is shut out from fellowship and religious life. Worse yet, tradition of the Pharisees was brutal. They taught that such a hemorrhage (the literal word used here) was the result of personal immorality. This was false, not part of the Mosaic code, but it was the belief of the time. So you can imagine the physical, emotional and spiritual strain of this outcast from decent society.
This depicts the spiritual state of everyone less than morally perfect. Sin defiles and destroys. Outside Christ we are like the man who moved to a retirement community in Florida. His son called one day and asked about the age of the people who lived there. Dad responded, “They are old.” After a moment’s thought: “In fact, I would say that their average was deceased!”
That’s the average age of those outside Christ. Deceased. Those outside of Christ are as Paul describes “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). Bad news! But there is a solution. It is the same as for this woman. It is not a creed or an improved morality or a ritual. It is the incredible, incomparable Person of Jesus Christ. That’s where this woman found healing and so must we.
II. An Incomparable Person
V. 44, “She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.” Don’t you love the simplicity of the cleansing power of Jesus? But that simplicity keeps many away. They don’t believe it’s that easy. But so it is. This woman’s faith shows 2 wonderful characteristics of this incredible, inexplicable, incomparable Jesus.
A. His Healing Supremacy
Note, she was fixated on touching a tassel, a reminder of Num 15:37-39: “The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. 39 And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.” We all have wandering hearts! God He prescribes to Israel visual reminders of the need for holy living – the tassels. Tassels were attached to the 4 corners of a square outer garment which was arranged so a couple of the tassels hung down the back. The Pharisees wore large ones to show compliance. This was the woman’s target as she came up behind Jesus. She came from behind to avoid embarrassment. She is not trying to steal a healing, but to guard her privacy. As a last resort, she’s trying to tap the magical powers that many believed attached to tassels of holy men.
Now, a Jewish person hearing this story would be thinking, “No, no, no, no! Do not touch Him! He will become unclean!” Anyone she touches will become unclean – a reminder that sin defiles. But Luke wants the skeptic in all of us to see that with her touch, rather than Him becoming unclean, she becomes clean. “Immediately her discharge of blood ceased. Amazing! Jesus is more powerful than the defilement of disease and sin. When we come to Christ in faith, He is not defiled by us, we are cleansed by Him. That is the good news! Jesus has power over sin. That’s what Luke wants Theophilus and all of us to see. Sin’s alienating power meets its match in Jesus of Nazareth.
John Wesley was mugged one night. He had little money, but as the thief left in frustration Wesley called, “Stop! I have something more to give you.” “Say what!?” He said, “Sir, you may live to regret this sort of life. If you ever do, here’s something to remember: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin!’” That’s a precious promise from I John 1:7. The thief scowled and hurried off, but Wesley prayed that the Word might not return void. Years later Wesley was greeting people after a service when a stranger approached. He was a successful businessman and believer; he was also the long forgotten thief. Of his transformed life he said, “I owe it all to you.” Wesley quickly replied, “Oh, no, my friend, not to me, but to the precious blood of Christ that cleanses us from all sin.” All sin. All sin. Does that sink in, Beloved? Is all your sin forgiven? Have you met the Christ who can take away all sin?
B. His Heartwarming Summons
Pix the scene again. Jairus asks for help and Jesus says, “Lead on.” Jairus does so with urgency. But they are hardly alone! V. 42: “As Jesus went, the people pressed around him.” It’s a circus. Everyone jostling for position. Think leaving a sold-out Coors Field – fighting for a spot at the elevator or escalator. That’s the scene! And amidst all the chaos, Jesus suddenly stops and asks, “Who was it that touched me?” Who touched me? Are you kidding?
Who touched you?! Jesus gets two answers – both brilliant. First everyone says, “Who touched you? Well, nobody touched you.” They “all denied it.” But then Peter, ever the spokesman, says, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you! Who touched you?! Are you kidding? Everybody touched you?” So what is it? Everybody or nobody?! Well, no one touched Him on purpose but with all the pushing and shoving everyone touched him. See Peter whispering to John, “What gives?!”
But what I want us to see is that in the midst of all that confusion when faith reached out to Jesus, He knew it – immediately! Faith never goes unnoticed. Jesus stopped everything to find the one person who had touched Him in faith. One person’s faith captured His undivided attention. Don’t you love that? Neither the urgency of the mission, nor the chaos of the surroundings deterred Him from acknowledging the faith of one person. Jesus loves individuals. Yes, God loves the world. But I’ll tell you what, He also loves you – specifically!
Now, v. 46: “But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” (Someone’s tapped Jesus’ divine power. “What?” Jesus doesn’t know who? He knew. So what gives? Why ask, “Who touched me?” Why? He’s eliciting a confession of faith. She wants anonymous; Jesus wants a confession. Exactly what He gets, 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.” This is so touching. He asks, and she puts aside all personal reserve and humbly responds. Like Rom 10:10, “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Faith saves; outward confession shows the reality of saving faith. This is one of the reasons that Jesus instructed baptism – to provide a clear, immediate, outward expression of true faith. By His question, He was giving a heartwarming summons to one particular individual to express faith, and she willing put her pride aside and responded. That’s what saving faith does!
Aren’t you glad Jesus stopped to find one person? Aren’t you glad that Jesus will always leave the 99 who don’t care to find the one who does? That’s why Luke interrupts one miracle account here with another one – to show that Jesus loves individuals. In a faceless multitude, He finds one woman’s faith.
We’re an increasingly nameless society, aren’t we? To the bank, you’re a #. When I worked at Rockwell in college, I got my paycheck by number. Your freshman class? 400 others. You’re just a number – a faceless crowd. But not to God. Faith captures His attention every time. Turn to Gen 6. Humanity is a faceless crowd of evil. Gen 6:5, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” It’s a faceless crowd – united in their selfish, evil, hard hearts and God’s going to wipe them out. But v. 8 “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” Why? He believed. Isn’t that good? God never misses faith. He’ll stop heaven and earth to respond to faith.
In Acts 8, revival breaks out in hostile Samaria under Philip. Acts 8:6, “And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did.” Hundreds coming to Christ. But look at v. 26, “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place.” God interrupts a revival to send the preacher to one man -- in a desert place – one man who didn’t understand his Bible. So God interrupted the revival – hardly a 21st century method, wouldn’t fly in our numbers infatuated, success crazed modern environment -- but representative of God’s love for individuals – to save the Ethiopian eunuch. Isn’t God good?
And I’ll tell you what, if you have never received Him, He’s looking for you, too? Lu 15:7 says, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Your faith can set all heaven on fire. In a world of billions, God has time for one! I love how one man said it: “God loves each one of us as if there were only one to love.” Don’t reject such love. Remember the son – There’s room at the cross for you. There’s room at the cross for you. Though millions have come There’s still room for one. Yes, there’s room at the cross for you. Come to Jesus.
III. An Indelible Protestation
One more clarification. V. 48: “And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” That is a crucial. Your faith has made you well. Why is that important? Because the woman was confused on that issue. She thought touching the tassels of a holy man would bring healing. Mark 5:28 enlightens us: “For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” Jesus cannot let this go, thus His final comment to her, “Daughter, your FAITH has made you well; go in peace.” “It’s not magic; it’s faith. Your faith has made you well.” In all that jostling, Jesus was touched by many with infirmities who did not experience healing. It wasn’t the TOUCH; it was the FAITH that unleashed the power of God. When Jesus said, “I perceive that power has gone out from me” He’s not suggesting that He was a walking healing machine – touch Him and Zap! all would be well! No -- it was the faith that had opened to floodgates of His healing power.
But far more important than the physical healing was the spiritual rebirth. When Jesus says, “your faith has made you well”, He primarily has spiritual healing in mind. How do we know? Two ways. First He calls her “Daughter.” Daughter! Think how that sounded to this castoff. It’s the only time in the NT that Jesus calls someone Daughter. What is He suggesting? He is pointing to her new status as a child of God. Remember John 1:11-12, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him (most of that day’s crowd would melt away when it became obvious He had come to kick sin out, not the Romans. They didn’t think they had a sin problem, only a Roman problem. So they rejected Him. But v. 12 goes on) 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” By using the word daughter Jesus is welcoming her to the family of God. Her faith was small and even confused, but it was all that was needed. Daughter!
But Jesus also says: “go in peace.” She wanted healing; she got peace! What is that about? It is about sins forgiven making peace with God. Jesus anticipates the truth of Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Nothing is more important than peace with God – sins forgiven, relationship restored, future assured. It would have been worth continuing with a physical disability to have that, but this woman got both. It wasn’t magic, Beloved; it was faith.
Conc – Linus is kneeling by his bed praying one night when Lucy walks in. Linus says, “Lucy, I think I’ve made a new theological discovery!” “What is it?” she asks. Linus replies, "If you hold your hands upside down, you get the opposite of what you pray for." That’s just exactly how some people look at God. They see Him as a magic dispenser machine. They just need to figure out how to manipulate Him. And all the time God is saying, “It’s not what you do. It’s who I am. You cannot manipulate me. You can only trust me. It is your faith that makes you well, that relieves your guilt and purges your sin. It is not baptism or church membership or taking Communion or walking 900 miles on your knees. It is not magic; it’s not turning your hands upside down; it is not some thing you do, it is some One you believe in.” Jesus said in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” So I ask this morning, do you know Him. Have you accepted Him by faith and made Him Lord of your life? If not, why not now? It’s not magic that saves; it is faith in Him. Let’s pray.