Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Faith Healer ........................ Parables 171

June 28, 1989

Did you hear about the woman who bit into a hard candy and it cost her thousands of dollars? Pain shot through her ear and then her whole head. She thought it would go away. But it didn’t. The first doctor told her nothing was wrong and put her on tranquilizers. She decided to change her lifestyle, but two sessions of dance exercise jammed her neck and back muscles. Again, doctors informed her nothing was wrong.

Everywhere she went, the diagnosis was the same. Finally, she tried a dental specialist who discovered a misalignment in her jaw. Two years of specialized treatment freed her from nearly ten years of pain.

Frustrating? I guess. We expect much more from modern medicine. Her story made headlines but was probably not uncommon. Here’s another one:

The woman: Jewish. Her age: Unknown. Her symptoms: Twelve years of hemorrhaging. History: Many doctors. Financial resources: Depleted by medical bills.

Her wealth didn’t secure the best medical attention or a cure. Instead, her condition grew steadily worse. To deepen her distress, there was no Medicare, no painkillers, no tranquilizers, or anti-inflammatory medications. She suffered without any kind of chemical relief or medical insurance.

Finally, this woman heard about a faith healer. She decided she had nothing to lose, in spite of two problems complicating her situation. One was that in those days, Jewish men considered women on the same low level as slaves and Gentiles. This Healer was a Jewish man. He might refuse to help her. Secondly, her “female” condition was an embarrassment.

But, after some thought, she decided to find the Healer and just mingle with the large crowd reported to have gathered around him. At first, she may have reasoned He would notice how pale she looked and maybe reach out and touch her. Then she thought if he was really as powerful as people said He was, she could simply touch His robe, without any attention drawn to herself. That would be easier. She decided to do it. She gathered her garments about her frail body, draped her veil across her face, and set off through the streets of Capernaum.

It didn’t take long to find the Healer. The noisy crowd was following Him as He walked with one of the rulers of the synagogue. As they passed by, she slipped into line behind Him, scurrying to catch up. Quickly, as the throng pressed and jostled, she reached forward and touched His robe.

The result is found in Mark 5: 29, “Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.”

She was ecstatic, eager to go home and begin living again. She turned, pressing against the crowd, struggling to reach the edge of the mass of people. She had no desire to be noticed. But her wish to remain anonymous was not granted. “At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’”

The disciples were incredulous. How could He ask such a thing with so many people pushing against Him? But Jesus knew the touch of faith. He persisted. The woman halted, uncertain for a moment. Then she realized that any man who had this kind of healing power could not possibly shame her. She fell at His feet and told Him her story.

Jesus, true to her hope, gently said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

The Greek word translated “well” is not quite the same as our English word. It means both physical and spiritual wellness. So Jesus did far more than heal this woman’s chronic physical condition. He healed her chronic spiritual condition too, and blessed her with complete wholeness.

Ancient and modern medicines both have their drawbacks. Even at their best, spiritual healing is one kind of cure that is beyond them, but it is not beyond Jesus. He still offers wholeness to anyone who will bring his or her need to Him.

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