Do you ever wonder why people send money to a television evangelist so they can get a piece of the cloth he used to wipe his tears?
I knew someone who sent such a televangelist a donation. She didn’t really believe it would work. She just wanted to hope.
History channels have produced shows and books have been written about possible and potential miracles involving a supposed piece of the cross, the Shroud of Turin, Noah’s Ark, or the Ark of the Covenant. Church history records all kinds of promises about these holy objects, and others, that were offered to people who wanted to believe.
Hope has always been one of God’s promises, and false hope has always been a by-product of that truth.
A church leader’s words can’t change God’s
There are some passages, like one in Luke 8, that theologians and Bible teachers will always struggle to explain.
At least, they should struggle to explain these passages. One of the reasons miracles are miracles is that they involve acts of God that transcend what is normal or explicable.
There is a story in Luke 8 that certain preachers have used to offer people hope of healing. It’s in the Bible, therefore it is possible.
Why did touching Jesus’ hem heal the woman?
It isn’t easy to find a theologian that wants to tackle that question. There really isn’t an answer except “It happened”—to her.
It was the second year of Jesus’ ministry, and his popularity was soaring. By now, word had spread about the miracles people had seen, the sermons people had heard, and the hope that Jesus might be the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus is drawing large crowds of people everywhere he goes.
Luke records a time Jesus is walking through such a crowd. A synagogue ruler had pled with Jesus to come to his home because his twelve-year-old daughter was dying. Jesus is very unpopular with most Jewish leaders by now, but a man whose daughter is dying is desperate for any hope. Jesus agrees to go to his home, and Luke says, “As Jesus went, the people pressed around him” (Luke 8:42).
Then Luke describes a miracle within the miracle.
A woman in that crowd had been bleeding for twelve years. Her medical issue would have made her an outcast from society, worship, and even her family.
In desperation, she reaches out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, hoping and believing that it might help. And it does.
Luke wrote, “Immediately her discharge of blood ceased” (Luke 8:44).
Why was this woman healed?
According to Luke, the crowd was large and people were pressing to get next to Jesus. His robe would have touched or been touched by many people. Why did touching the robe of Jesus heal the woman but not all the others who were “pressing around him”?
Why did Jesus sense her touch?
The disciples didn’t understand why Jesus was wondering who touched him. Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” (Luke 8:45).
Blogger’s note: This statement is another reason I am a huge fan of Saint Peter. Luke usually got his information straight from the source. In other words, he probably interviewed Peter and the apostle made sure people knew about another of his less-than-perfect retorts to the Son of God. Peter also made sure Luke had Jesus’ answer to his impertinent question.
How did Jesus know that someone’s touch in that crowd was different from the others?
Luke records Jesus saying, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me” (Luke 8:46).
Jesus’ power to heal
The reason this is a theological conundrum is that Jesus didn’t choose to heal the woman. He didn’t know she was healed until after the fact.
The woman came to him and confessed she had touched his garment. It was then that Jesus told her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (Luke 8:48).
Those words open a can of worms that theologians can’t fully explain, so this blogger won’t even try.
- Was it her faith in Jesus?
- Her faith in God?
- Her faith that even Jesus’ garment could heal?
- Were the others that touched his garment lacking faith?
- Does enough faith heal and not enough faith hinder?
- Why didn’t Jesus know who had touched him and who had been healed?
Those are just a few of the questions that surround this passage. So, why is such a complicated passage included in our Bibles?
In fact, the story is important enough that Matthew and Mark also record the miracle in their gospels.
What if we are supposed to focus on the reason Jesus knew he had been touched rather than the fact that a woman was healed?
What if the moment and message of the miracle are the most important parts of the story?
The message of the miracle
Jesus perceived that “power” had gone out from him. It wasn’t the garment of Jesus that healed the woman; it was the power within Jesus.
It wasn’t the crowds that were healed. God healed the woman that day, and Jesus knew it when God’s power was released through him.
One day, Jesus would look at these same men and tell them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The “power” released through Jesus that day is the power that fills all Christians today. But, it isn’t the power to heal; it is the power that can heal, when God chooses.
Jesus was on his way to Jairus’ home. Jairus was a synagogue ruler and probably the most important, influential person in the crowd. Culturally speaking, Jesus paused from his most important task to show compassion to an “unclean” woman who had not requested his attention but had stolen it.
That day, the culture didn’t define important; God did. The apostle Paul was trying to explain that truth when he wrote about heaven, saying, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
A message about miracles
Two miracles occurred that day: God publicly healed a bleeding woman and privately healed Jairus’ daughter.
What is the message about miracles?
God heals and decides how to heal and who is healed.
The power for healing is the power of God, through his Son, and through his Holy Spirit.
God loves everyone, equally. Some of God’s miracles are witnessed; some are not. Some of God’s people are healed on earth, but most are healed in heaven.
Faith in God is the key, not faith in garments.
Jesus said, “Your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
If you are a Christian, that is your hope, your promise, and your miracle for today and every day. Whatever you are facing, you will be healed—maybe not today, but definitely one day.