by The Rt. Rev. Daniel R. Morse
Trinity Season 2007
The main subject of these verses is the miraculous healing of a sick woman. Great is our Lord’s experience in cases of disease! Great is his sympathy with his sick and ailing members! The gods of the heathen are generally represented as terrible and mighty in battle, delighting in bloodshed, the strong man’s patrons, and the warrior’s friends. The Savior of the Christian is always set before us as gentle, and easy to be entreated, the healer of the broken hearted, the refuge of the weak and helpless, the comforter of the distressed, the sick man’s best friend. And is not this just the Savior that human nature needs? The world is full of pain and trouble. The weak on earth are far more numerous than the strong.
But that is not all that we are to notice here. This woman has been bleeding for 12 years, and as we have learned in our studies in Sunday School, according to the Old Testament laws she was unclean. This meant that anyone who touched her would become unclean until they went through the long process of ritual cleansing. That is to say, according to the old way of life under the curse of sin, uncleanness is transferred simply by coming into contact with something or someone who is unclean. Those laws of uncleanness were symbolic of death that has come upon the whole world as a result of sin. But this story shows us that since the coming of Jesus Christ it is not uncleanness caused by death that is transferable, but the exact opposite.
When this woman touches Jesus it is life, not death, that is transferred. Jesus has cleansed the world and all that it contains by the radical evolution caused by his life, death, and resurrection.
Then as if to make that point very clear the Gospels tell us that Jesus performed this miracle on his way to a man’s home to raise his daughter from the dead. That is, it does no good for Jesus to spend a few months healing sick people if he is only going to leave them to die eventually. What kind of good news is that? No, Jesus has real good news—that he has come to conquer death—and so he heals a sick woman on his way to reversing the real terror—death itself.
I. What misery sin has brought into the world
We read of one who had had a most painful disease “for twelve years.” She had “suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better, but rather grew worse.” Means of every kind had been tried in vain. Medical skill had proved unable to cure. Twelve long weary years had been spent in battling with disease, and relief seemed no nearer than at first. “Hope deferred” might well “make her heart sick.” (Prov. 13:12)
How amazing it is that we do not hate sin more than we do! Sin is the cause of all the pain and disease in the world. God did not create man to be an ailing and suffering creature. It was sin, and nothing but sin, which brought in all the ills that flesh is heir to. It is sin to which we owe every racking pain, and every loathsome infirmity, and every humbling weakness to which our poor bodies are liable. Let us keep this ever in mind. Let us hate sin with a godly hatred.
II. How different are the feelings with which people draw near to Christ
We are told in these verses that “many people followed” Jesus, “and thronged him.” But we are only told of one person who “came in the press behind,” and touched Him and was healed. Many followed Jesus from curiosity, and derived no benefit from Him
One, and only one, followed under a deep sense of her need, and of our Savior’s power to relieve her, and that one received a mighty blessing.
We see the same thing going on continually in the Church at the present day. Multitudes go to places of worship; and fill pews. Hundreds come up to the Lord’s table, and receive the bread and wine. But of all these worshippers and communicants, how few really obtain anything from Christ! Fashion, custom, form, habit, or the love of excitement are the true motives of the vast majority. There are but few here and there who touch Christ by faith, and go home “in peace.” These may seem hard sayings. But they are unhappily too true!
III. How immediate and instantaneous was the cure which this woman received
No sooner did she touch our Lord’s clothes than she was healed. The thing that she had sought in vain for twelve years, was done in a moment. The cure that many physicians could not effect, was wrought in an instant of time. “She felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.”
We need not doubt that we are meant to see here a picture of the relief that the Gospel confers on souls. The experience of many a weary conscience has been exactly like that of this woman with her disease. Many have spent sorrowful years in search of peace with God, and failed to find it. They have gone to earthly remedies and obtained no relief. They have wearied themselves going from seminar to seminar, and church to church, and have felt after all “no better, but rather worse.”
But at last they have found rest. And where have they found it? In the same place this woman found hers, in Jesus Christ. They have ceased from their own works. They have quit looking to their own efforts for relief. They have come to Christ Himself, as humble sinners, and committed themselves to His mercy. At once the burden has fallen from off their shoulders. Heaviness is turned to joy, and anxiety to peace. One touch of real faith can do more for the soul than a hundred self-imposed routines. One look at Jesus is better than years of sack-cloth and ashes. May we never forget this to our dying day!
IV. It is good for Christians to confess before men the benefit they receive from Christ
We see that this woman was not allowed to go home, when cured, without her cure being noticed. Our Lord inquired who had touched Him, and looked around to see who had done this. No doubt He knew perfectly the name and history of the woman. He did not need anyone to tell Him. But He desired to teach her, and all around Him, that healed souls should make public acknowledgment of mercies received.
There is a lesson here which all true Christians would do well to remember. We are not to be ashamed to confess Christ before others, and to let them know what He has done for our souls. If we have found peace through His blood, and been renewed by His Spirit, we must not shrink from acknowledging it, whenever it is proper. It is not necessary to blow a trumpet in the streets, and force our experience on everyone’s notice. All that is required is a willingness to acknowledge Christ as our Master, without flinching from the ridicule or persecution which by so doing we may bring on ourselves.
V. How precious a grace is faith
“Daughter,” says our Lord to the woman who was healed, “your faith has made you whole: go in peace.”
Of all the Christian graces, none is so frequently mentioned in the New Testament as faith, and none is so highly commended. No other grace brings such glory to Christ. Hope brings an eager expectation of good things to come. Love brings a warm and willing heart. Faith brings an empty hand, receives everything, and can give nothing in return. No other grace is so important to the Christian’s own soul. By faith we begin. By faith we live. By faith we stand. We walk by faith and not by sight. By faith we overcome. By faith we have peace. By faith we enter into rest. No other grace should be the subject of so much self-inquiry. We should often ask ourselves, Do I really believe? Is my faith true, genuine, and the gift of God?
May we never rest till we can give a satisfactory answer to these questions! Christ has not changed since the day when this woman was healed. He is still gracious and still mighty to save. There is but one thing needful if we want salvation. That one thing is the hand of faith. Let a person only “touch” Jesus, and he shall be made whole.