Friday, May 21, 2010
Luke 8:40-48, “A Touch of Desperation" A Bible Study Devotion.
Luke 8:40-48, “A Touch of Desperation" A Bible Study Devotion.
Read Luke 8:40-48
In this story we see two people who ask Jesus for help. For this study, we will concentrate on the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. It says that this woman was like this for 12 years and nobody could heal her. It says in Mark that she tried for many years, many different ointments, potions, doctors, etc and none of them helped her. In fact, they made her worse. In this culture, this woman would have been considered unceremoniously "unclean." She would have to do some ritual to cleanse herself after she stopped bleeding in order to be acceptable to society. After 10 days, she could be considered "clean." Nobody could speak to her, touch her, be with her, acknowledge her, etc until she was "clean." Of course in her case, the bleeding did not stop for 12 years, so she could not get "clean." She was a social outcast who desperately wanted back into society. We know this because she tried many things to get clean. It says in Mark that it took all her money and she was at the end of the rope. Not only that, in this culture, it was not just her who was "unclean." Anyone who touched her became "unclean." Anything that she touched became "unclean." For instance, if she sat down on a chair, the chair was unclean. If someone else then sat on that chair, they would be unclean and shunned from society for at least 10 days while they did the ritual to get clean. You can imagine how lonely she was and desperate for acceptance. Ok, so what are we talking about here? One woman with her "unclean" problem? Yes. ...but we are also talking about me and you and everyone else that has a "sin" problem...
Notice all the ways that her story is our story:
Being "unclean" affected every part of her life. This followed her around where ever she went, who ever she talked to, whatever she did, the uncleanliness was there. It infected every aspect of her life. Just like sin in your life.
This ailment of hers was degenerative. It progressively got worse and worse. Just like sin will do. At first the sin is so small you might not even notice it. Then, after you give in a few times, it gets easier and easier to justify your actions until finally you become hardened to it.
This uncleanliness was costly for her. It cost her all her money, all her relationships, everything she touched. Just like sin in your life will eventually do. If you do nothing about your sin, in the end, it will destroy you.
This uncleanliness was embarrassing for her. Just like sin in your life. Many times our sin is something that only we and God know about. If other people found out, it would be very embarrassing for us.
There was nothing she or anyone that she sought could do to cure her. There is no good deed you can do. There is absolutely nothing that you can do to make up for your sin and heal yourself.
And most important of all, this uncleanliness separated her from her friends, family, and all of society. Sin separates us from God. God is Holy Holy Holy and cannot be with sin. They are oil and water. So if you carry sin, you are separated from God. You will eventually be separated from everyone and God's society (Heaven.)
So that is the problem, now back the story... This part is amazing... Put yourself in this scene. When you see what happens here, you will see an "Oh Wow!" moment. Understanding this scene is what makes Bible study so incredible. There is a huge crowd. People are everywhere. There are no body guards. There is no stage with a partition. There is just Jesus and tons of people all pressing together to get to him. It is a big mosh pit. Jesus is being touched and shoved and squished from all directions. There would be no way for any of us to discern one shove from another. Jesus is not saying, "back off. Give me some room. I can't breathe here!" He is just letting it all happen. Then somehow this girl crawls through the bustling crowd and manages to touch the very end of his "clothing." It is not even him that she touches, just the end of his robe. Instantly Jesus stops and turns around, and says, "Who just touched me?" Imagine being there. Everyone looks around with a dumbfounded look on their face. They look from one another as if to say, "duh." Finally one of them has the gumption to add, "...ah, Jesus, people are touching you all over..."
However, this touch was different and of course Jesus knew that. This girl, after all else had failed, finally decided to turn to God for healing. She thought, "If I can just touch him, I will be healed." (Mark) She tried to fix her problem for 12 years and had just made it worse. She did all she could and it was not enough. She finally realized that what could heal her was to fall on her knees and find healing with Jesus. Instantly her bleeding stopped. This is the only way to heal the sin in your life. There is nothing else that can be done. It is only through God's grace that you can be made "clean." You can either learn the hard way and try yourself for 12-20-50 years, or you can learn the easy way from the example God gives us in this Bible story.
That alone is a good lesson, but there is one more thing and it is my favorite part of the story. Remember that she is "unclean." Anything she touches is "unclean." Nobody will talk to her, be with her, even acknowledge her, because in this society, they would then be shunned too. But what does Jesus do? This is the order in the Bible: She touched him. She was healed. ...Then Jesus asked, "who touched me." He could have let her go and be healed in quiet. Undoubtedly she would not want to draw attention to herself because she was "unclean." She would have certainly touched many people on her way to Jesus through the crowd. But Jesus did not do that. He publically calls her out. He says, “Who just touched me?” She says, “I did Lord.” Then he calls her "daughter." As if to say, "Hey crowd, this woman whom you think is unclean, just touched me, and I'm proud of her. She has faith, and she is my daughter." He not only acknowledged that she had touched him, but he builds her up in front of the crowd. He says, "I got your back." ...Ain't he great?
Written by Chris Vasecka
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