Meet the Woman Who Couldn’t Stop Bleeding

A woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years, who had spent all she had on doctors and yet could not be healed by any, approached from behind and touched the end of his robe. Instantly her bleeding stopped.

45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are hemming you in and pressing against you.”

Luke 8:43-45

I had to touch Him. I had to reach out and somehow get His attention. It was no longer an option. I bled all the time and it wouldn’t stop. There was no one else who could stop this, no doctor, no medicine. I was so desperate. It had to stop, it was killing me.

I had spent so much money on so many doctors.

I had nothing left. Each doctor promised a cure and my hopes were always dashed. A few days ago I heard about Jesus, I heard about His power to raise the dead and heal every disease. I don’t really know why, but I somehow knew He could heal me.

Perhaps this was really it, I thought. There was a big problem though, I was ritually unclean and all that I touched was unclean. The temple was off-limits and I had been cut off from sacrifice and forgiveness. In my darker moments, I remember thinking that perhaps God really had forsaken me?

After all, it had been 12 years.

What I had to do must be done secretly. I knew I just had to touch this man. I would have to wriggle my way through the crowd to get close enough. This wasn’t right and if I couldn’t get close enough I somehow knew I’d be taken to task for my foolishness.

But oh I was so sick and weak.

Just a touch was all I needed. I knew the He had the power. I just knew it. So I listened and tried to understand His busy itinerary. I must figure out how to get to Him, you see, everything depended on that connection.

It somehow worked. I just managed to grab just the tassel of His ceremonial head covering (ironic isn’t it).

And immediately the flow stopped. Just like that! I felt it and knew what happened.

Christ is the Good Physician. There is no disease He cannot heal; no sin He cannot remove; no trouble He cannot help.”

    James H. Aughey

   

The Blessing of the Children

Luke 18:15-17, KJV

15 And they brought unto Him also infants, that He would touch them; but when His disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

16 But Jesus called them unto Him and said, “Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God.

17 Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”

We were wrong (like usual it seems). I guess that we were trying to maximize Jesus’ ministry. We meant well, but He needed organization. That was our “ministry.” We simply felt that Jesus’ time was our concern, and as His disciples we wanted Him to connect with those who really mattered.

The parents were bringing their children to be blessed by Jesus.

“It was the custom for mothers to bring their children to some distinguished Rabbi on the first birthday that he might bless them.”

William Barclay

Jesus made it clear that these children needed to be the focus of our ministry. Our efforts were not to be centered on adults, rather it was misguided thinking that we direct Jesus’ work to be focused and redirected. These little ones were in the way.

Up to now, Jesus’ work was for adults. There were lepers, demon-possessed, paralyzed, tax-collectors all waiting for His ministry. Somehow we overlooked the needs of little children. Again, we were wrong, misguided, and ignorant of the walk of the true believer.

And sure enough, Jesus explained what we were missing. Children were to become our focus. They were the ones who we were to emulate and esteem. The radical thing to us was understanding that these ‘little ones’ were that significant. This was a powerful jolt.

“Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”

Luke 18:16-17, The Message

This was astounding! It was nothing less than another radical thought from our Teacher. Accepting this wasn’t easy, but Jesus was crystal clear. We dare not think otherwise, but to believe this was against all we thought we understood.

Jesus understood that childlikeness was the only way we could enter His Kingdom.

Trust me on this–we believed otherwise. Up to now, we assumed that maturity meant sophistication. It was all about right thinking and good theology that God was looking for. We assumed that being simple wasn’t quite what Jesus wanted from us. Rather we believed the opposite.

Children were now to be our examples. Their simpleness was to be our guide–it was the Kingdom of God’s doorway into true discipleship.

“Part of the exquisite beauty of salvation is its simplicity. Any man, woman, or child can come to Christ with absolutely nothing to offer Him but simple faith-just as they are. Salvation requires nothing more than childlike faith-believing that Jesus Christ died for my sins and accepting His gift of Salvation.”

Beth Moore

Discipleship Can Hurt

Luke 9:57-62, NIV

57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

There’s to be no whitewashing the way of discipleship–there’s no glamour, no special recognition–no acclaim in it. I guess this is the “real” way of being His follower. The path Jesus has for me demands I give Him my whole heart. Heart enough to turn it all to Him. Heart enough to give Him total commitment.

Jesus seems to make it hard–we can see this in His responses to each prospective disciple. His statements to each possible follower seem harsh, difficult, and a bit “unreasonable,” but He doesn’t receive these men unless they do what He says.

Discipleship demands that we give up what we hold dearest.

What happened to these three “would-be” followers? Did they return home dejected and frustrated? To follow in Jesus’ footprints means we give up our personal agendas, and turn our backs on what is closest and dearest. We must renounce everything, and give Him preeminence over all.

These are hard verses with profound implications. But this passage is given to us for a reason. We dare not minimize what it means to be a disciple. We must grasp the plow with both hands, and we can’t look back.

“Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. Unless he obeys, a man cannot believe.”

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Meet the Demon-Possessed Boy

Luke 9:37-43

“On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God.”

All of this takes place immediately after Jesus’ transfiguration. He has shown Himself to be God, wrapped tightly into manhood–He’s fully and completely the Word made flesh. He is the Creator, and He is holding the universe together. Who really can fathom this?

Full of power, but also completely covered with incredible compassion. He meets this desperate man, a man who is carrying incredible weight, a burden that had taken over his life. Jesus steps into a theological circus, after all, the Scribes had shown up, and the disciples were disputing with them. The terrible need of the demonized boy had been forgotten.

The disciples had tried to free him, they really had.

But between the gathering crowd and the arguing Scribes, they were overwhelmed–completely out of their element. Defeated, they didn’t know what to do. (Isn’t this a description of much of today’s church?)

The father of the demonized boy was incredibly desperate. He watched the bizarre scene unfold yet knew he had no other answers. He despaired but continued to wait. What else could he do, there were no other options. He really tried to wait for Jesus Himself. He needed Him.

Sometimes we as the Church stress theological niceties, and look beyond the awful needs around us. We rather debate than serve. We prefer to argue rather than meet the incredible pain around us. How sad is this? We constantly meet terrible pain, and we choose to reside in some strange theological bubble of our own making.

When Jesus comes down from glory on the mountain, He immediately faces off with a desperate man and a demonized son. This father is terribly overwhelmed–the disciples had made a try (or two) and yet couldn’t free the boy. The demons had ignored their efforts and laughed at attempts to free him. These demons decided to stay inside this boy. The disciples can do nothing about it.

But when Jesus shows up, all hell breaks loose.

There is amazing power here. Jesus, already shown to be God on the mountain top, now declares His authority over the ugliness of the darkness. He’s been unleashed and absolutely demolishes the works of Satan. He dismantles the evil and decisively frees the boy.

The text tells us, “And all were astonished at the majesty of God.” We can link this power to what we’ve seen on the mountain top–His Words are powerful enough to hold the world in place! He is the Almighty One that has chosen to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with us. He pushes against the darkness and sets us free.

“But have we Holy Spirit power – power that restricts the devil’s power, pulls down strongholds and obtains promises? Daring delinquents will be damned if they are not delivered from the devil’s dominion. What has hell to fear other than a God-anointed, prayer-powered church?”

   Leonard Ravenhill

Meet the Centurion and Discover Real Faith

Matthew 8:5-13

 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

Obedience had been ingrained in me. I understood authority and submission to my superior officers. It’s called “the chain of command” and it’s the reason why armies function the way they do. I ultimately acceded my will to my superior, who’s under authority himself. I also have soldiers who I command. I led over 100 men as the occupying force in Palestine.

We were hated and despised.

My servant was sick, and I knew that he was suffering greatly, but I had run out of options. My servant was the only family I was allowed to have. Since I served as a centurion I was not allowed to have a wife for the duration of my service. Over the years I’ve kept good and trustworthy servants with me–these men were very dear to me. They became my family.

I certainly was aware that both my men and I lived in constant danger from radical Jews.

I had exhausted all my efforts to bring some relief and healing to him–and it seemed to be getting worse, not better. My “contacts” told me of an itinerant teacher who had a reputation as a healer. It seems Jesus had a large following and I realized that He could be my last option.

So I went to Him for help and Jesus responded. But He wanted to go with me to my home. His willingness to come encouraged me, but I simply couldn’t allow that. Jesus’ visit would’ve made Him ceremonially unclean–I was a Gentile, a “dog.”

My home was off-limits.

But I did understand something. I was under authority as an officer in the Roman army, and my men also took orders. Obedience meant survival in a hostile environment like Judea. Our entire unit was drilled constantly and we all understood the need for a “chain of command.” Each of us obeyed our superiors. We had to.

With all this in mind, I asked Jesus to heal my servant with just a word.

He marveled at this. He said that my adherence to protocol was evidence of real faith. Those who were with Jesus were told something earth-shaking. My trust meant something, He made me an equal with the Israel patriarchs. My faith was to be emulated by the Jews.

He then told His followers that my confident trust was respected and acknowledged as evidence of God’s favor.

Simply, Jesus spoke a word and when I returned home my servant would be healed. I returned home to find him healthy.

“Christ will always accept the faith that puts its trust in Him.”

    Andrew Murray

Please visit my new site, alaskabibleteacher.com. If you liked this teaching, I really think you like this one too.

Meet the Man of the Tombs

Mark 5:1-15, CSB

They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. As soon as he got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met him. He lived in the tombs, and no one was able to restrain him anymore—not even with a chain— because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had torn the chains apart and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.

6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him. And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you before God, don’t torment me!” For he had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”

“What is your name?” he asked him.

“My name is Legion,” he answered him, “because we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the region.

11 A large herd of pigs was there, feeding on the hillside. 12 The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs, so that we may enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs. The herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there.

14 The men who tended them ran off and reported it in the town and the countryside, and people went to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who had been demon-possessed, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.

My name was Legion. I was called that by all who knew me. But it wasn’t a pleasant name, it was a name of darkness and horror. I was possessed by demons; there were so many of them that I was given this awful name. “Legion, 6000.” So much darkness. Wonderful, isn’t it?

My days were filled with awful confusion and stark raving terror.

I ran naked among the tombs, cutting myself on the rocks. When they chained me I found a demonic, super-human strength to break their bonds and shatter the shackles. I would free myself to run wild among the caves once again. No man could tame me. I was the central force of evil in this area of the Gerasenes. I was feared by all.

I was completely insane.

I can recall little through my darkness, and I suppose that was for the best. My madness permeated everything. My life had become completely saturated with evil. What little I know I will tell you. Try to imagine the condensed insanity of a mental hospital crammed into one’s little mind.

It seems on that day I was on the Gerasenes’ “welcoming committee.” I ran to greet Jesus before he even got out of the boat. I remember falling at his feet. I knew instinctively who He was. He was Lord over my darkness. I suppose that deep down I knew that only He could free me.

The authority of Jesus enabled him to speak directly to my demons. I remember how they tried to negotiate their way out, and He calmly sent them into a herd of swine nearby. There were about 2000 pigs and my evil spirits left me and entered them. The pigs went berserk and then they destroyed themselves. They couldn’t handle all the evil that I had ‘bottled up’ inside me.

With Jesus’ firm and decisive command, the darkness immediately left me alone.

Suddenly I could no longer hear their vile words. I knew that I would no longer have to carry out the disgusting will of my demons. There were no voices in my head. I stood up as a free man for the first time in years. Jesus Christ had decisively intervened. I knew now that He was my Messiah and my deliverer! My liberator who was sent from God. Just for me.

Someone gave me a robe to cover up my nakedness. I sat at Jesus’ feet in wonder at what had just happened. It didn’t take long for the townspeople to arrive. They came and found me clothed and completely sane. I suppose it was out of fear that they asked Jesus to leave the region immediately.

I only wish they understood.

When Jesus was getting into the boat I wanted to join Him. I simply had to be close. But Jesus told me no. He told me that I needed to go home to my family, and I must tell them everything. “Tell them all of the power and mercy I have had on you.” As I watched them sail away I knew that I wanted to do what He wanted.

I would now be Jesus’ ambassador to the Ten Towns.

I explained everything that had happened to me and all that Jesus could do for them. I was now His very visible witness. I shared about the power and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ over my incredible darkness. I was now a source of His light to my people. I had to witness.

My darkness was completely gone, and I couldn’t control my joy!

Lord Jesus, You completely rule the spiritual forces of darkness. Help me to remember this and assist me with my own dark issues. I want to be free from all that opposes You. I must tell others of what you’ve done for me. Amen.

Meet the Kneeling Leper

Matthew 8:1-4, The Message

“Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and dropped to his knees before Jesus, praying, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.”

“Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. Jesus said, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”

Look at Jesus, and listen closely to His heart. “I want to. Be clean.” He’s encountering a diseased man while listening to the crowds who are chanting His name. He’s the hero, a celebrity, the people adore Him. Who could handle the adulation? Certainly not me, I would soak up the praises and revel in my triumphal moment.

I would short-circuit.

But remember, the end of the previous verses explains exactly what’s happening. Matthew 7:28-29 explains their excitement–

When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.

It was a wild scene, we can’t forget this. But it’s funny, Jesus through all this sees and hears this leper. He doesn’t respond to the crowd but to the diseased man. The text tells us that the leperous man was on his knees and he was “praying.” His pleas were directed at Jesus.

The crowds responded wholeheartedly to the marvelous teaching of Jesus, and that was awesome. We really shouldn’t minimize that. However, in the Gospels, the “crowd” is pretty much a bad term, or at least a neutral one.

I suppose that Jesus seems to ignore the multitude’s adulation and instead focuses on the leper. I’m not sure if I could do that. It’s nice when people flatter me. It feels so good, it feeds my ego–but the needs of others become secondary. There’s something in me that adores being in the limelight. I feel triumphant!

Jesus reacts, not to the adoration of the crowd but to the man. He sees the need of a single person.

That’s really remarkable.

Okay, so what does this really mean? Scripture tells me that Jesus stands in heaven and makes intercession for me. He focuses on just me, I’m the center of His care–but I also know that attention is also on you, and others, and yet I’m assured that He sees me and each of His sheep. This should be a comfort. He concentrates and ministers to the person.

Jesus loves you, and He loves me.

“So he told them this parable: “What man among you, who has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’”

Luke 15:3-6

Jesus and the Cliff

Luke 4:28-30, CSB

” When they heard this, everyone in the synagogue was enraged. 29 They got up, drove him out of town, and brought him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl him over the cliff. 30 But he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.”

When I pastored a church, I loved it when people told me that my sermon was the best they’ve ever heard. What a boost! But Jesus didn’t have that response when He preached at the synagogue in His hometown. The people went nuts! They weren’t happy with what Jesus had to say.

Nazareth was big enough (500 people) to have its own synagogue. This was the central place in the town. The village was also built very near to a sizable cliff. (You can see it today.)

It wasn’t a nicey-nice sermon, and it certainly didn’t comfort the congregation. They got really angry–Jesus point-blank confronted them. I suppose the Jewish leaders may have incited the crowd, which is sort of typical. If we take a quick peek at what He said perhaps we can understand their response (Luke 4:23-27).

But it’s really odd, initially, the people were responsive:

“They were all speaking well of him and were amazed by the gracious words that came from his mouth; yet they said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

(v. 22)

Two things immediately strike me, maybe they’re significant, and maybe not. One–This attempt to toss off the cliff came immediately after Jesus’ temptation. (One of Satan’s temptations was Jesus jumping off the pinnacle of the temple.) Two–this is Nazareth, the town where He grew up, and the people obviously had issues about this ‘familiarity.’

They couldn’t or wouldn’t accept Him.

What probably happened is this. After Jesus’ sermon, the people were enraged. They escorted Him, pushing and shoving to the cliff. Throwing Jesus off was just the beginning, as He landed they would have gathered rocks (as big as a person’s head) and they would’ve finished the deed by stoning Him. They would have aimed at His chest first, and then the head. Survival was unlikely.

Prophets and teachers are seldom respected by who is closest to them. (Trust me, I know all about this.) Joseph, Jesus’ step-dad (if he was alive) would’ve had a carpentry shop. And Mary would’ve shopped with the women of the village. Both would have been in the synagogue and part of the crowd.

So tell me. What lesson can we grasp from this passage?

We’re people who’ve got the ability to make choices. Stoning is frowned upon in our culture; but could it be that we respond to Jesus’ words in less extreme ways? Physically we can’t react like this. But could it be we ignore Him or are apathetic to the things He says to us? Might this be as “bad” as stoning? (Maybe I’m putting too fine a point on it?)

The Lord Jesus’s voice to us should never be trifled with.

The things He speaks are supremely authoritative–what He shows us is not a trivial thing. His words are always significant. What Jesus says to us mustn’t be ignored, no matter what they communicate.

As believers or nonbelievers, we must take into our hearts the word that He speaks. To minimize or nullify (by our apathy?) is incredibly dangerous. When we judge Him we’re actually judging ourselves, and that dear one is frightening. We make the decision to accept or reject Him. It’s that freedom of choice that can be scary.

What has Jesus spoken to you that you’re turning a blind eye to?

Is it possible He has spoken but you’re ignoring Him? I mean no harm and it’s not possible for me to know your heart. But maybe you’ve listened up to a certain point and ignored the things that don’t settle with you. Personally, when I read Jesus’ words in the Gospels I discover an awful lot that I don’t really want to hear. (He talks about humility and loving our neighbor before ourselves. Yikes!)

Please consider this honestly. It’s spiritually dangerous to be apathetic and not to pay attention to what you know to be the full Word of God.

“In all unbelief there are these two things: a good opinion of one’s self, and a bad opinion of God.”

    Horatius Bonar

Encountering the Feeding of the 5000

Luke 9:12-17

As the sunset, the Twelve said, “Dismiss the crowd so they can go to the farms or villages around here and get a room for the night and a bite to eat. We’re out in the middle of nowhere.”

“You feed them,” Jesus said.

They said, “We couldn’t scrape up more than five loaves of bread and a couple of fish—unless, of course, you want us to go to town ourselves and buy food for everybody.” (There were more than five thousand people in the crowd.)

But he went ahead and directed his disciples, “Sit them down in groups of about fifty.” They did what he said and soon had everyone seated. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread and fish to the disciples to hand out to the crowd. After the people had all eaten their fill, twelve baskets of leftovers were gathered up.

Jesus had been healing many. Five thousand people sat enraptured by Jesus’ teaching. It was like nothing they had never heard before. It was definitely a testimony to Jesus’ fantastic presence. Where the all came from, I haven’t the slightest. To gather a crowd like this, in the middle of nowhere was amazing. None of us had ever heard of this ever happening.

Seventy of us had just returned from preaching ourselves, with stories of deliverance and healing. Herod had also heard, and that was a bit spooky. We certainly didn’t want his scrutiny, that’s for sure-I know he known about us.

It was getting dark and, quite honestly, we realized that we had a problem. We met with Jesus and expressed this development. We really didn’t have a solution. It came as a shock to us (and maybe absurd) that He told us to “feed them.”

The crowd concerned us.

After a search, we came up with five loaves and a few fish. We wanted Jesus to see the absurdity of this, and to emphasize the problem. Perhaps this meager discovery would help Him understand,

Jesus told us to reseat the crowds in groups of fifty, I’ve always wondered about that, but I suppose that He wanted to see the size of the crowd–and to oversee a better and more even distribution of the food. That was indeed wisdom, but it was far more than that.

He covered His head, looked to heaven to give thanks.

He then began to take the fish and bread to distribute to the crowds. I still don’t quite grasp what exactly happened. It still seems absurd.

The bread and fish just kept coming.

As we filled our baskets, the food never ran out! It just kept coming and coming! Our baskets were always full, and all 5000 were fed. As a matter of fact, everyone had more than they wanted–all from a measly five loaves and two fish!

And to emphasize all of this, each of us had our own baskets filled.

What happened then and there staggered us. Obviously, on a purely rational level, it was quite impossible. Surely Jesus had the ability to do anything He wanted to do. This miracle only confirmed the absolute power of Jesus–each of us had a full basket for ourselves. Jesus had made it clear that He was in full control of every situation.

Even now, how can we ever doubt Him?

“Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:32

For further reading: “Meet the Master of Ceremonies in Cana

Art is public domain, the passage is taken from The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson.