I want you to turn with me in your Bible to Mark chapter 5. This is very much what I feel God has laid upon my heart to bring to you today. This was something that I was reading in my own daily readings, daily devotions, maybe about Wednesday or Thursday; and something just leapt out at me that I hadn't really seen before to this degree. I have studied this before and preached on it before, but not this way. I want to read from verse 24, we're going to look at the woman who is described as having an issue of blood, so she had a haemorrhage, a bleed, and it says that she had it for twelve years.
Verse 24 then, just to get the run-in: "So Jesus went with him", that is, the ruler of the synagogue called Jairus. He has come to Jesus looking for healing for his daughter who is gravely ill, at the very point of death, OK? So this healing that we're looking at this morning is an interjection in the middle of another story, and it continues after this woman gets healed. It's important to understand that as we'll see in a moment or two. "So Jesus went with Jairus and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him". So He's going with Jairus to his house to heal his daughter, and while He's on the way this happens. Verse 25: "Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, 'If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well'. Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, 'Who touched My clothes?'. But His disciples said to Him, 'You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?''. And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction'" - and we'll finish our reading there.
Let's just pray for a moment, OK? I'm going to speak to you this morning about 'The Greatest Problem Solver'. If you have got a problem, I want you right now to bring that to Jesus. Who hasn't got a problem? Some more than others, but there might be a problem that is in the 'Top Ten' of your problems, number one in the charts right now, why not bring that to Jesus? That might seem a bit selfish - and we'll look into that in a moment or two - but, nevertheless, it's often our starting point, where we are in our brokenness, our need, and our burdens. Let's just come before the Lord, let's still our hearts, and let's really seek to engage with Him in our spirits, that we might find Him today, that He might speak to us. Just ask Him to speak to your heart right now.
Father, we thank You for the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank You that He is the perfect and the express image of Your Person. If we want to know what You're like, Father, we just look at Jesus. Lord, when we see Him moving among men and women and boys and girls, we see, Father, Your nature, Your character, Your compassion, Your love, Your truth. We just pray now, by the Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus, that You would come, reveal the Father to us - and not just reveal something to us, but Lord Jesus, would You come to us today? Would You come into our midst? Would You stand among us in Your resurrection power? Holy Spirit, we ask You to bring Jesus and the Father right to us, to be with us, and to dwell within us. Lord, we need You to minister to us, and right now as people are raising up to You the issues that are in their lives, we pray that You will come and meet them at the very point of their need. But Lord, You know why I'm asking this: would You do more? Would You do more than that? In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
Now this is a wonderful passage of Scripture, and in fact there are three major miracles that are in this chapter. But in the preceding chapter, just at the very end, you might be aware that the run-in to chapter 5 at the end of chapter 4 is the winds and the waves obeying Jesus, and this incredible and miraculous act of Him rebuking the wind and the sea, saying 'Peace be still!', and the great calm came. The disciples were dumbfounded at the end of the chapter, they say: 'Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?'. So we are set up to be in awe and wonder at this Man, who is described in Mark's Gospel in particular as 'The Servant of the Lord' - and that is the prophetic fulfilment of everything that the likes of Isaiah the prophet and other prophets talked about being the characteristic of Messiah, that He would come to serve the Lord in such incredible ways. He would be unmistakably the Anointed of God, the Christ of God, and so we see it here at the end of chapter 4. He is Lord over danger, Lord over the storm. Now some of you are going through storms today, and you need to hear this: He is Lord of the storm. He is Lord of the storm. It doesn't seem like that. What you think is about to go over your head is already under His feet! Did you get that? He is Lord of the danger.
At the beginning of chapter 5 - I love this portion, I'm not going to preach on it, but there is a man who is called the demoniac of Gadara, or the maniac of Gadara, or the madman of Gadara - not very flattering titles, are they? The reason why is that society had given up on him, he was a lost cause. The equivalent of Social Services, or maybe the Psychiatric Ward, in their day was to throw somebody on a hillside in the middle of nowhere in a graveyard, where he could trouble nobody, and put him in chains. But even the chains could not bind this guy, because he was demonised to an extravagant extent, the devil had really done a wonderful work on this man. He had a Legion of demons, and a Legion probably is somewhere up to 6000 soldiers in the Roman army, and probably this man had so many demons within him. He was tormented, and yet Jesus goes to him - everybody else is avoiding him - isn't He wonderful? He goes to the people that we avoid, He loves the lost causes, and He goes right over to that side of Galilee, the lake, and He meets this man. The man throws himself at Jesus' feet - to cut a long story short, the demons are cast out, and the man is sitting in his right mind, clothed at the feet of Jesus. He had been running around naked, cutting himself, now sanity is restored, dignity is restored, and he sitting submissive in stillness. Just the way Jesus stilled the storm, Jesus stilled that man's mind and his spirit. Wonderful, isn't it?
So He is Lord of danger, He is Lord of demons, and as we have seen in our reading He is Lord of disease; and because we know that when He went to the cross, He suffered and died not only for our sins, but by His stripes we have been healed. Now not everybody lives in perfect health, nor will they in this life, but we know that one day we will have new bodies and we will be completely restored to what life was intended to be. Yet we are given a little bit in deposit before that time by the healing work of the Lord Jesus, not just in the Gospels, but now - He does touch people, He does heal people, He is Lord over disease.
But just looking at the miracle that we've interjected to in the middle of Jairus begging Jesus: 'Come and heal my daughter, because she is near death!'. Then there is an interruption - have you ever had an interruption? I know what it's like to be in the study, or to be deep in thought sometimes, and all of a sudden a child comes in or - dare I say it - my wife comes in, and there is an interruption; or the phone goes; or a text message. You've lost the train of thought, or you've lost the moment, or whatever - well, this was far greater than that. This was a life and death matter, this man was coming to Jesus for his dying daughter, and there is an interruption - how inconsiderate can you get? A phone call, or a knock on the study door is one thing, but when I'm begging Jesus for a healing and there is an interruption - it's not nice, is it? Maybe you're here today, and there have been interruptions in your pursuit of God, or your pursuit of something you need from God, and you don't understand. Well, I want to tell you today that He is Lord of the delays as well. He is Lord of the delays. You can't understand it, and if we were here in their shoes right now, neither would we - we would be thinking all the worst things possible. You know, the things you would never ever say in church, or to your pastor, all the worst things possible about God and about Jesus: 'How can He possibly have stopped. This woman, it's not urgent, she's been twelve years with this thing! Could it not have waited at least an hour or two? My daughter is on the brink of death and she is only twelve years of age!'. But Jesus is Lord of delays. Do you know that He knows what He's doing?
Then He shows that He is Lord over death, because after He heals the woman with the issue of blood, He goes to Jairus' house - and the girl has died. Before he even gets there, they're warning him: 'Don't even bring Him here because it's too late! There is nothing He can do!'. He goes in - and I hope you know the story, it's wonderful - they laugh at Him because He says she is only asleep, and she plainly is not asleep, she is dead! But He's referring to the fact that He's going to waken her, and He takes her by the hand - He puts all the unbelief out, all the people that are weeping and wailing, and laughing at Him, He puts them all out. He takes Peter, James and John in with Him, He takes her by the hand and He says 'Talitha, cumi', 'Little girl, or little lamb, arise'. She gets up, and then He says 'Make her something to eat' - isn't He wonderfully practical? 'Make her something to eat', He's wonderful, isn't He? I hope you know how wonderful the Lord Jesus is as the Servant of the Lord.
There are so many problems in these portions of Scripture that we have looked at, people came to Jesus, men and women, boys and girls, for all different kinds of reasons. We're going to look at this woman with this issue of blood for twelve years. I think it's interesting: twelve years she suffered, the wee girl was twelve years - there's nothing incidental in Scripture, you understand? There's nothing pointless. These numbers mean something, I'm not 100% sure, but it could mean - because twelve, just like seven, twelve is also the number of completion; but it's also the number of God's administration. There are twelve disciples, twelve apostles, twelve seats ruling in the new kingdom, and so on - you could go on with that, I'm sure - twelve tribes in Israel. So what you're getting here is the complete, it might be, the complete and perfect administration, authoritative rule of God in Jesus Christ His Servant - isn't it? To put it in a way you understand: He does things well. He is bringing the rule and the reign of God to bear here in impossible situations.
Could you just pause for a moment and receive that? He doesn't create perfect situations - I think I need to say that - He doesn't create perfect situations. In this broken world, He comes and brings the rule and reign of God in impossible situations. Some of the things I'm going to say today I have planned to say, and some of them I haven't, and you'll just have to guess which is which. But here's the way I want to look at this portion, as I have never looked at it before: I want us to look at the verbs. You know what a verb is - remember school, English? Come on! 'A doing word', a verb is a doing word. When I was reading this the other day I just circled the doing words here, not all of them, but the ones that relate specifically to the woman's problem, and then the ones that talk about how she related to Jesus, OK?
So look at them, first of all there is the word 'suffered' in verse 26, 'she had suffered many things from many physicians'. Then here's the next one, 'She had spent all that she had', the next is 'She grew worse'. Suffered, spent all, grew worse. Then the other verbs that we will look at in a moment or two, relating to how she was in relationship with Jesus, it says in verse 27: she heard about Jesus; she came to Him; and she touched Him. So she suffered, spent all, grew worse; and then she heard, she came, and she touched.
So let's look at them one by one. First of all, I want you to see how she suffered. I said earlier in our prayer about bringing your problem to Jesus - this was a real problem this woman had. She had had it for twelve years, and it was an impossible problem, it was a purity problem. You've got to understand the context of Jewish society, this woman was cut off from her religion because of this issue. This was a haemorrhage, constant bleeding that made her unclean. There were rules about the menstrual cycle in Judaism, without going into detail, but there were certain things that you couldn't do when you were seen as ceremonially unclean. This woman was constantly ceremonially unclean, so there was a spiritual problem - because of her religion, she was cut off from her religious institution, she was seen as not only unclean spiritually, but she would have been perceived as a transmitter of uncleanness. So you ought not to come into the vicinity of this woman. She may well have been divorced, because it's unlikely that a husband would have stayed with her in those days under such circumstances; and she probably had been put out of her home, wherever her original home was.
So you can see that this was a problem. Now there are many people like this, many people in our society, and we've got to waken up today to realise they think: 'If I went to church, they wouldn't want to know anything about me. They certainly wouldn't accept my problems, I would only get condemned, and I would probably come away with more of a complex than I had before I entered'. That's the way people are, and we have contributed to that - it has to be said. I'm taking my responsibility in that too. But this was an inherently personal problem, it was intimate - you know what it was, don't you? It was something very embarrassing, and she probably felt no one else had her problem - because that's often the way we feel when we've got one, isn't it? Especially when we're young (I do remember that), and growing up, and thinking that the trials and temptations and struggles that I had, 'I'm the only one has this' - and it's not the case at all, but that's the way she felt. It was personal, and it was very private for obvious reasons, but also people would have looked at her and maybe thought she had it made, that she had no problems - and maybe that's the way some of us are. We put on the Sunday smile, yes? I've been convicted lately about what a big liar I am - yes! People say to me: 'Well, how are you doing David?' - I've probably already done it today - I say: 'Ach, I'm great, I'm doing well', when I'm miserable, I'm foul!
Now, it's not that you bear your heart to everybody and, let's face it, probably - and I'm not offending anybody, I hope - you who asked me that this morning weren't really interested, because most people aren't! It's just a colloquial saying: 'How are you doing today?', isn't it? I mean, I hope that doesn't offend you, but it's true, isn't it? If I started to say: 'Well, my granny died, and I crashed the car, and I'm in debt' - do you really want to hear all that on Sunday morning before church, you probably don't! What I'm trying to say is: with those whom we can trust, we've got to be honest. Maybe people are looking at you today and thinking you're OK, but you know how your marriage is, you know about your finances, you know about the tricks that your mind is playing on you, you know what goes on behind closed doors. You've got private problems, personal private problems, and maybe they are very painful like this woman.
Now, as I said earlier, we've all got problems - but usually there are one or two that really occupy our thoughts and sap our energy every hour of the day. It's the thing that we wake up with in the morning, the thing we go to bed with at night - I don't mean your husband or your wife, but the problem that is on your mind or your heart! Maybe... well, no, I'll not go into that! But it's painful, and this woman's problem was very painful. It seemed impossible, and it was certainly persistent because for twelve years it continued - and she had tried everything, and nothing worked out. As far as you're concerned here today, maybe you're in desperation, maybe you've given up because you feel nothing will work. Dare I say it: you might even be suicidal. Yes, Christians can be suicidal - when you feel there is no way out.
So would you agree with me that she suffered? Then see the next verb, she spent all. It wasn't that she was passive - and can I say this kindly, I'm trying to be easy here: there are a lot of Christians suffer because they sit on their rear end and do nothing. Sorry, that maybe wasn't so sensitive, but it got the point across, didn't it? You're a spiritual couch potato, you moan and whine about everything that is wrong - and maybe there are many many problems in your life - but you're not prepared to do anything about it. This woman wasn't like that, she did everything that she could. Have you ever done that? I mean: 'I'm not sitting under this, I'm trying to address it! I'm going everywhere, I've booked the conferences, I'm reading the books, I'm praying the prayers the way I'm told that I ought to pray them - and still nothing is happening!'. She spent all that she had, and in the context of Judaism it probably went something like this...
The Talmud is a body of Jewish civil and religious law that is added to the Old Testament by Jews, and this is what it lists - at least eleven cures for this particular illness of a haemorrhage. Some of them are potions and superstitious nonsense. Listen to this, I'm quoting from it: 'Take the gum of Alexandria, the weight of a small silver coin, of almond the same, of crocus the same. Let them be bruised together and given in wine to the woman that has an issue of blood. If this does not benefit, take of Persian onions three pints, boil them in wine, and give her to drink' - I imagine she would have a few other problems after that! 'And then say 'Arise from thy flux'. If this does not cure her, set her in a place where two ways meet. Let her hold a cup of wine in her right hand. Let someone come behind her and frighten her, and say 'Arise from thy flux''. In another place, the Talmud actually recommends that the afflicted woman - wait for it - carries a barley corn which has been taken from the droppings of a white she-donkey, and she will be healed. Now it's more than likely - it's hilarious really, but it's tragic - because more than likely this woman had tried all of these cures and more in utter desperation. I don't know what you've tried in your problems, but maybe you've spent a lot of resources - time, energy, and finances - on your problem.
I remember in 2004 hearing about Iris Jeffrey, she was from the Woodvale area and she won 20 million on the lottery. Her eldest daughter, Wendy, was an administrator in Belfast City Hall. She was interviewed, because a few months after the winning ticket was claimed, Iris was diagnosed with cancer of the gullet. Her daughter was interviewed, I think by the Belfast Telegraph, and she said: 'Our first thought was not about buying big houses or flashy cars, it was to see if anything could be done to help our mother'. I was told that the daughter said at the time that they would give all the wealth away if her Mum could be well. That's the point of desperation this woman was at: she spent all. I don't know what you have spent, certainly sleepless nights, maybe even financial resources - but look at what it says here, the third verb: grew worse.
Suffered, spent all, grew worse - that's exactly where some of us are. Now can I say to you: make sure that you go to the right place to get help. You would be gobsmacked if I told you today where some Christians go for help in their problems. You wouldn't believe me if I told you some Christians go to get their tarot cards read, or their palm read, or go to fortunetellers, or mediums, or go to seances. You would say: 'No, that couldn't be! How could a Christian do that?' - they do it! Not all of them, but some of them. Some of them go to get charms for ailments, send their children for charms for ailments. We could go on, and I'll not, other than to say that some of us go to Eastern mysticism for alternative therapies. It's certainly not wrong to go to the doctor, I advise you to go to the doctor if there is something wrong - Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, was a doctor. But sometimes we go to the doctor and we never mention anything to God - and you're getting worse. Make sure you're going to the right place, because Matthew chapter 12 talks about a person - I'm not talking about the demoniac this morning, but a person who has been delivered of demons. If they have an empty life their life is like a house that has been swept clean and all the demons are gone, but if the life of God doesn't come to completely possess that person, if they don't pursue God and Jesus His Son in absolute surrender and discipleship (that doesn't mean perfection, it just means you're in relationship with God, and you're working through everything that you're struggling with) - but if that's not there, you've got an empty life, which is an open invitation for the enemy to come back. Jesus said a person who is like that, whose house is swept clean and left empty, the demons will come back and seven of their friends, and the latter end of the person will be worse than the beginning. You'll grow worse.
Some of us grow worse in our problems because we want to get fixed, but we don't want to give everything over to Jesus. We want the Great Physician to heal, but we don't want to sign the dotted line of consent to go under the anaesthetic and to trust Him with our lives. Of course, this woman didn't know where to go - but she suffered, spent all, and grew worse. This is what I want you to see as the story completely turns: it says she heard about Jesus, verse 27, 'When she heard about Jesus'. If I was preaching the Gospel from this, as I have done on occasion, I would be talking about: 'Have you heard about a friend? Maybe that friend has brought you today, and Jesus has changed his or her life, and you would love Him to do for you what He has done for them?'. Maybe you're here, and as a Christian, you know of people who have had your problem, and they have been healed, or you know of people who have been released and set free, or delivered, or the problem has been sorted, or whatever - but you've got a pity party on, a spiritual inferiority complex which says: 'What God has done for others, He will not do for you. He'll not do it for little old me'. Now I'm not saying that God does everything the same for everybody, I'm not saying that - as you'll see in a moment or two, I'm not saying that God solves all our problems the way we want Him to, because He doesn't - sorry! He doesn't! What I am saying is: you've got to understand the heart of God for you, that He loves you as much as anybody else. You're no more important than anybody else, just so that you know, but He doesn't love anybody else more than you. You've got to know that, whatever He has planned for your life, whatever is going on - you've got to realise that God has got answers for you that may not be the answers you're asking for, or are requiring, but He has got answers for you. What He did for this woman, He can do for you.
In fact, I want you to look at chapter 6 just quickly, chapter 6 and verse 56, because we might be tempted to say this was an isolated incident - but if you look at chapter 6 verse 56, it says: 'Wherever He', Jesus, 'entered into villages, cities, or in the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well'. You see, this was not a unique occasion. I don't know whether you've ever seen that verse. We think of this woman with the issue of blood as the only one who touched the hem of His garment, I've even said in the past that it was sort of superstitious faith - I don't believe that at all now. It was faith, but it wasn't reserved for this woman, others went her way. Others were healed in different ways, yes, He spat on the ground and made clay ointment to put on their eyes; He put fingers in people's ears; He told people to go do this and that - people were healed in different ways, and delivered in different ways. But this was not reserved for this woman, and you can experience it even today, whatever your problem might be.
She heard, and you need to allow - what does it say? 'Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God'. It doesn't say 'Faith comes by the word of God', have you ever noticed that? It doesn't say that. It says 'Faith comes by hearing the word of God'. Jesus talked a lot about how you hear: 'Take heed as to how you hear'. The whole parable of the sowing of the seed, the different soils and all, was to do with how you hear the word of God. Are you hearing with the hearing of faith, to believe that what He has done for others He can do for me? Yes?
So she heard, and then it says she came to Him. Just in case there is anybody here who is not a Christian: you need to come to Jesus with your problems. I don't know you well enough to know who is and who isn't, but you need to come to Jesus with your problems. She didn't just come to Him out of the blue, she reasoned - and we see this in the verse: 'When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said', I imagine this is that she said to herself, ''If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well''. So she reasoned about this is: 'Look, other people are getting healed all over the place, and I have been everywhere, I've wasted all my resources and time in these years. I wonder could that work for me? Would He do that for me?'. So she reasoned about it, and as she reasoned concerning the truth of what Jesus is and what He can do, faith rose within her and she engaged by faith in the possibility. Some might say it was superstitious, I wouldn't say that now, but it was a little faith. She didn't come out of the crowd and say: 'It's me, it's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer, come over and touch me!' - no, she snuck in the crowd, and did it by stealth, secretly, quite sneaky, it was a sneaky thing. Yet it was a little faith, and that's all it takes. It's not the size of her faith that matters, it's the size of her God.
Do you know what some of our problem is? Some of us are focusing on the size of our faith; whereas if you just ignored your faith and focused on God, your faith would grow. It's interesting, isn't it, the way some people have faith? The demonised boy's father said to Jesus: 'If You can do anything of compassion on my boy', 'If You can'. Do you know what Jesus said back to him? 'If you can believe, all things are possible to those who believe'. 'If You can', is that where your faith is today: 'Lord, can You do this?'. Then there is the leper, who said to Jesus: 'If You are willing' - so it wasn't His ability that he was doubting, like the demonised boy's father, it was His willingness. 'If You are willing, You can make me clean' - and what did Jesus say back? 'I am willing, be clean'. This wee woman is saying 'If I can touch Him', it's weak faith, but this is the point: it's weak faith that is causing her to press in, and she is pressing through the crowd. The crowd is there, elbows are out for this wee woman, and she's getting near to Jesus with little faith. Think about this for a moment - in fact, the disciples kind of laugh at Jesus a wee bit for saying 'Somebody has touched Me'. They're saying: 'Everybody is touching You, You're in a crowd!'.
Many touched Him that day, but there was only one who pressed in in faith. Maybe you have kind of being familiar with Jesus and the things of Jesus, you've been round about the environment of Jesus, the vicinity, maybe even coming to church - maybe for twelve years, maybe for 200 years, I don't know. But you haven't pressed in yet, even with a little faith. You need to press in. She came to Him with this faith. Christian, the Gospel has been preached so many times from this portion of Scripture, but it's for us. So many scriptures: 'Behold, I stand at the door' - that's not for unbelievers, you can preach it that way if you want, but it's for us, it was for a church. Jesus is outside the door of many - I'm not saying most, that would be pessimistic - but many churches in this city, He is outside the door because the church won't let Him in, because they're in control, they know what to do, it's the way they've always done it before, and they're always going to keep doing it that way. He is outside, and He's knocking to get in - but that's another sermon.
Another passage that is preached almost exclusively to non-Christians is Matthew 11:28-30: 'Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest'. She came to Him. 'Take My yoke upon you', not religion's yoke, not the Elim's yoke - God bless the Elim, but not the Elim's yoke - 'My yoke and learn from Me... for My yoke is easy and My burden is light... and you will find rest for your souls'. Christian, when was the last time you came to Jesus, weary, worn, and sad? You found in Him a resting place, and He made you glad. You see, we're not only liars with each other, we're liars with God. God is really convicting me about this lately: we lie to Him. We come to Him not as we are, but the way we should be: 'Oh Lord, I'm so happy, oh happy day' - and you're miserable! Your life is collapsing around you, your relationships are problematic, but you put on this facade - do you know what Jesus called that? Hypocrisy. The actual Greek word for 'hypocrisy' means 'mask'. It was a mask they used to use in the theatres, the actors would put this on to take on the character. Jesus is saying: 'You religious folk are putting on these masks'. We put on our masks, we've got one for Sunday morning, Sunday evening is maybe a different one, I don't know; Tuesday night, if we get out, it's a different mask, yes?
She came to Jesus as he was, then I want you to see finally: she heard, she came, and then she touched Him. She reached out. I want to say to you today: reach out and He will find you where you are. Maybe you feel a bit lost in the crowd, or maybe - perish the thought - you're even trying to hide in the crowd, you haven't got to the stage of this woman yet, you're hiding behind somebody, you want to be at the back of the queue. She came to Jesus with her problems, and I say to you: that is no guarantee that He will solve your problems the way you want. His ways are not are ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts - but I'll tell you what happened this woman, and what will happen you: many of the people who came to Jesus for various problems (because He was the problem solver), when they came they often got their problems met, OK? The hungry were fed, the lame were made strong to walk, atrophied withered arms were made whole, the dead were raised, the blind could see, the deaf were made to hear, the mute to talk, and all the rest. But when they stayed there with Jesus long enough, do you know what He did? He got past those initial superficial problems that they thought were their biggest problem, and He got to the problem of all problems: their sin and being cut off from God, not having a relationship with God.
She reached out and touched the Lord, but then He called her out. He knew that healing had gone out of Him, but then He did something else: He called her out, because there was more to be done. She was just looking for the healing, yes, but when you come to Jesus with your problems - whatever it is today - and you stay long enough, He's going to sort you out completely if you let Him. It's like going to the doctor and saying: 'Oh, I'm a bit breathless going up the stairs', and he tells you 'Well, actually your problem isn't breathlessness, that's a symptom, but you have a blocked artery'. Or you get an ache or pain in your leg, and he tells you something is wrong with your neck' - maybe that doesn't happen, but anyway, I'm not a doctor! But, you know, transferred pain - so where you think you've got the problem isn't actually your problem at all - and I think that's the case for a lot of us. The problem you think is your problem is not your problem, in fact.
Why did He call her out? Jesus is so embarrassing, isn't He? Is He trying to shame this woman? We wouldn't do this, we're seeker sensitive! 'Jesus, that's not very seeker sensitive! Let her go away with her healing, and in six months time maybe think about baptism, church membership, or something like that, You know? Give it time, Jesus!'. 'Who touched Me?', and I imagine the crowd probably parting a wee bit, and then this wee woman comes out. Why did He do this? To embarrass her? No, He wasn't like that. You remember there was a deaf and dumb guy, and He took him away from the crowd to deal with him because He didn't want to embarrass him. Jesus is not into embarrassing us, but the point with this woman was: her issue, her problem cut her off from her society. She had snuck in here in stealth, but He was now wanting to declare the healing, the being made right, the righteousness of this woman - to the extent that everybody would know not to avoid her. In fact, we see this in the language that He used: 'Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace'. Why did He call her 'daughter'? He's saying: 'You're a daughter in Israel, you're a daughter of God', in other words, 'Welcome back to the family'. Her problem was rejection, she was cut off, she needed acceptance and belonging - and Jesus was saying: 'It's not enough that you're healed'. Do you know that? It's not enough that you're healed, and it's not enough that you're forgiven, and it's not enough that you're delivered - what Jesus is always doing, please hear this, what Jesus is always doing from the moment we see Him as the problem solver and we bring our problems to Jesus: He is drawing us in to deeper relationship with Himself. That's what it's all about: a deepening relationship with Him.
Let's face it, we are selfish at the core, all of us. So it's often a selfish kind of reason that brings us to Jesus in the first place: 'I don't want to go to hell', how many came to Jesus because of that? I believe in hell, I believe in preaching it to a degree, but you understand - don't you? 'Oh, I want to be healed, I want to be fixed, I want my family made whole' - and Jesus says: 'OK, come to Me and talk to Me about that, and we can help you out' - you don't always get what you want, but He helps you out, but then He says 'Now there's something else I want you to look at'. He reaches way deep down into your soul, and He brings out something you never knew was there.
Our greatest need is a deepening relationship with Him. Do you notice, if you look at verse 32, it shows that fear, the role that fear had in her not coming out of the crowd - do you see that in verse 32? 'He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman', verse 33, 'fearing and trembling'. I wonder is there an element of fear that stops you pursuing a deepening relationship with the Lord. You need to know this morning that Jesus said to this woman: 'Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace'. 'Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke' - you shall have rest, peace. The Hebrew, this is Greek of course, He spoke Aramaic, but the Hebrew for 'peace' is 'Shalom' - some of you know that, you've been to Israel, 'Shalom'. It's like a greeting that we would say, 'Hello', but it's different. Peace, we think of often as an absence of war - that's why we shake hands with people, we don't kiss people on the cheek here (it's a pity, isn't it, maybe not!), but we shake hands. The history of that is laying down arms, that's what it is, putting your sword or your pistol down, and making peace with someone - it's a greeting. But we think of peace as the absence of war, but Shalom is not that, Shalom is the presence of life, the presence of wholeness, the presence of healing, the presence of God.
My title was: 'The Greatest Problem Solver'. Your greatest problem is the need for a relationship with Jesus. It may not be what you think is the solution, but it is for all of us. So, with your suffering, your frantic and futile attempts to relieve it like this woman who spent all, as things grow worse, will you as a child of God - or not, for that matter - will you hear what God can do today, will you come to Jesus afresh, and will you reach out and touch the Lord as He goes by? You find He's not too busy to hear your heart's cry. He's passing by this moment, your needs to supply - reach out and touch the Lord as He goes by.
Let's pray. Now, quite often I will do appeals, but here's what I was thinking in the light of the ministry: some people can't even get out of their seat, now it's not inertia I'm talking about or laziness, but just that you're so crushed in the crowd of fears, problems, afflictions, adversity, and opposition, that your energy level is just floor level. But what you could do this morning is reach out. While heads are bowed and eyes closed, I want to ask you in a moment - He is the greatest problem solver, but you have been given a wee bit of an insight into the background: He's not just into solving our problems. We must try not to relate to Jesus or God the Father as (and I'm trying to be reverent here, but this is basically what we're like at times) like a slot machine, a vending machine. We put the prayer in, maybe a wee bit of fasting if we're really hyper-religious, and we get out what we need. We put the promises in, claim the promises - but there is no relationship, we're using God. Or we treat Him like a satnav, you know: 'Tell me what direction I'm meant to go here' - but it's all about relationship. God is there wanting our hearts, wanting us to know Him, and as we know Him His desires are placed within us. So don't just come to get things fixed, but know that as you come to Jesus with your problem, that actually He is going to go to work on you. If you surrender to Him, He's going to sort out a whole load of problems that you never even knew you had.
Jesus is here, I know He's with me now, I know that. Will you reach out? Let me pray for you: Lord, I don't know the problems that people have here today, but, Father, I thank You that You know. Sure You know the wee sparrow that got hit by a car just out on the road, You know about it - how much more do You see us, do You know what we're going through, the issues, the burdens? Lord, help us not to be in denial, not to bury them, or not to be 'Mr and Mrs Super-Christian' - say the right words, pray the right prayers, put on the right face. Help us right now to have total honesty with You, to tell You where we're at, and what is weighing down upon us; how we feel, how we feel about our lives, how we feel about our problems, how we feel about You, Lord - as if You don't know! As if You can't see what's in our head and our heart! We mightn't say it, but You know, Lord - so help us to come to You with it, and say: 'Lord, I feel You've let me down, I feel You didn't come through for me there, I cried and cried!'. Lord, then help us to see You as You really are - would You please show us the way You really are? Would You show us what we're not seeing? Would You show us our blind spots? Would You take us into a deepening relationship with You, so that we will start to see things from Your perspective? Lord, right now in this moment, I ask You for the Holy Spirit in His hovering weight and presence to come upon us now. Lord, that You would just meet people in the way that You see fit, as they might reach out to You now.
So just now, friends, just in your own way, just reach out to the Lord with your needs, with your problems; trusting Him to meet you at the point of your need, however He sees fit. Just do it now in this moment of quietness. You could even picture the hem of His garment, reach out - remember the faith now. It might be a little bit of faith, but knowing what He has done for others, knowing what He has done for this wee woman, just reach out and engage with Him now. Tell Him your disappointments, tell Him your confusion and disillusionment. Tell Him, He wants to hear it. Tell Him the way you have felt about Him and His ways at times - that you don't understand. Then ask Him to take you into His family - and I know, if you're a Christian, you're already there - but to take you, as it were, into His confidence; to take you into that secret place. You know, with the disciples, Jesus taught the multitude and then He took the disciples aside and explained to them the background of the story, what was going on, what it really meant - ask Him to take you into His confidence. Now you've got to trust Him, and you've got to let Him do whatever He wants to do - alright? It's not all one-way here. Ask Him to heal the depths of hurt and despair that you don't even know about. Maybe you're only experiencing the symptoms, maybe the problems that you have brought to Jesus today are only the symptoms, and you don't know what is deep down there that needs to be dealt with.
Just talk to Him in the quietness, we're just going to wait for a moment or two. I'm going to pray for you in a moment. Healing virtue is going out of Him right now, it always is - isn't that wonderful? He doesn't grow tired, He just gives, and gives, and gives again. Does anybody remember that chorus: 'He gives more grace when the burdens grow greater'?
Father, I thank You for Jesus, I thank You that He is Lord of all. He is Lord of danger, He is Lord over demons, He is Lord over disease, He is Lord in our delays, and He is Lord over death itself. Whatever we face - and we're not going to be problem free in this life, deliver us from selfishness that is just trying to have problem-free, comfortable, cushy lives - we're not going to have that, but Lord, we believe that in the midst of our problems, when we bring our problems to The Greatest Problem Solver, He fixes us deep down in the works of our being, in the bowels of the boat, in the works of the watch. He comes and He reaches right down there, and He does spiritual surgery in the depths of our being. It's hidden to us, but not hidden to You. I pray right now, Lord, for the people that are engaging with You: search us, O God, search us, shine your searchlight, see what anxious ways there are in us and lead us in the way of everlasting. Lead us in Your way, Lord. Lord, we need You, we need You Lord Jesus. Forgive us for our hypocrisy, forgive us for superficiality, forgive us for cosmetic Christianity. Help us to be real with ourselves, help us to be real with You. Lord, give us community where we can be real with each other and not get shot down, not get judged. Thank You for what You're doing today, Lord. We bless it, and we praise You for it in the mighty name of Jesus, Amen. God bless you.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at South Belfast Elim Church in N. Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "The Greatest Problem Solver" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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