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Jesus Knows When People Want Him

Mark 5:30-34
At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from him. He turned round in the crowd and asked, 'Who touched my clothes?' 'You see the people crowding against you,' his disciples answered, 'and yet you can ask, "Who touched me?"' But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.' (NIVUK)

It does not take much imagination to know that there is a difference between a touch, and a 'touch'.  The casual and accidental touch means nothing more than carelessness; but the intentional touch of a blind person, a lover, or a mother to a child is special.  It is not the moment of physical contact that matters, but the meaning it holds.  Jesus, who was jostled and brushed by many, knew the moment the woman reached out to touch Him - and why.  She believed that if only she could touch His clothes, she would be healed (Mark 5:27-29).  And she was.

Despite Jesus being on an important mercy mission to reach a dying girl; despite the pressure of her father to reach her in time; despite the pressure of the crowds getting in His way (Mark 5:21-24): Jesus stopped still when this chronically unwell woman, miserable through years of menorrhagia and bad medical treatment, touched His cloak (Mark 5:25-27).  She had such faith in Jesus, that she dared to push through the crowd.  She ignored her ritual uncleanness which had made her a social leper (Leviticus 15:19-28), because she saw that Jesus Himself was the light at the end of her tunnel (John 9:5).  Her faith was simple and direct. We know this is so because she did something about it.  And Jesus did not just heal her but also gave her His peace (John 14:27).

Mark keeps on telling us of people who wanted to respond to Jesus in faith (and the disciples who kept on missing the point!).  In this episode, the indifference of His followers was in stark contrast to the bold conviction of the sick woman.  When Jesus asked, 'Who touched me?', His emphasis was on 'who' rather than 'touched'.  Jesus wanted to identify the person who wanted Him, and then identify that person to His disciples.  This was another important lesson in their training as apostles; they needed to know that even in a large crowd, Jesus was drawing individuals to Himself (Luke 15:3-7).  They were not to lead a church as a mass movement of ignorant adherents.  They were to be shepherds of churches of individuals (John 10:3-4) who are known by the Lord Jesus who trust Him with their lives (1 Peter 5:2).

It is just the same today.  Many will have their 'brush with religion': most people will pray when the problem is big enough or become more religious to suit the family culture at weddings or funerals.  But few will be convinced that Jesus is the answer to everything in their lives ... but those who are, will be amply rewarded.  Our faith in Jesus should encourage others to take hold of all that Jesus offers.  Why are we so embarrassed by those whose zeal oversteps our nice conventions?  Is it that we have forgotten what it is like to be so lost, that we are desperate to be found; so hopeless, that we believe it is Jesus who offers the only hope?

Dear Loving Lord. Thank You for the bold enthusiasm of those who look to You for everything. Forgive me for being so reluctant to be identified as a person who trusts You for everything. Help me to see that You have done everything for me, that I may be bold to keep on reaching out to Jesus - and encourage others to seize hold of Him too. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams