As I’ve shared in earlier posts, this year I am reading through the New Testament as part of the Project345 reading plan. One of the great side benefits of this is that many days I read not only the designated passage for that day but other passages as well. Often it’s by following a footnote or study cross-reference and digging out a thought or theme to learn more about it. Sometimes it is simply for the joy of reading and not wanting to stop reading once the daily selection is done. Such was the case recently when I was reading in the book of Luke. Luke intrigues me, as a physician he was perhaps one of the better educated and well rounded disciples, his version of the Gospel stories is often filled with different details than the others. Recently I was reading the story of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ robe and was healed. I love the story for it is not only one of faith, but also one of how once you interact with Jesus your life is changed.
“In the crowd that day there was a woman who for twelve years had been afflicted with hemorrhages. She had spent every penny she had on doctors but not one had been able to help her. She slipped in from behind and touched the edge of Jesus’ robe. At that very moment her hemorrhaging stopped. Jesus said, “Who touched me?” When no one stepped forward, Peter said, “But Master, we’ve got crowds of people on our hands. Dozens have touched you.” Jesus insisted, “Someone touched me. I felt power discharging from me.” When the woman realized that she couldn’t remain hidden, she knelt trembling before him. In front of all the people, she blurted out her story—why she touched him and how at that same moment she was healed. Jesus said, “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!” Luke 8:43-48 (The Message)
Matthew’s account relates the exchange between Jesus and the woman as “Then he reassured her: “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” Matthew 9:22 (The Message)
Both gospel’s make it clear that the woman had faith and believed that if she could just touch the hem of the coat of Jesus she would be healed from her disease. Imagine her fear but also her faith. For over a decade she had literally spent every penny she had trying various medical treatments to cure her and all had failed. It is very likely she was not just broke and destitute but given the norms of society about women at the time she was likely an outcast as well. Yet inspite of this she knew in her heart that if she touched even the edge of Jesus’ coat she would be healed. To put it in a modern-day context that is like a homeless person with AIDS knowing if they could just get close enough to the Pope to touch his robe they would be healed. Sound impossible and a bit improbable to the natural? Yes, but our God is a not a natural God, he can do supernatural things. When the woman connected with Christ, even just by the edge of his clothing she was changed. The same is true for you and me.
When we connect with Christ, I mean really and fully connect; we will never be the same.
Just as when two objects collide something has to change and neither object is exactly the same as it was before. So also are we when we have a real and genuine encounter with Jesus. The same is also true when we have real connections with other people in Jesus name. Everyday God puts people in need in our way so we can collide with them. In doing so we have an opportunity to show them the love of Christ and the power that Jesus has to change lives.
Question is: do we allow ourselves to run headfirst into these people or do we often duck and swerve to avoid them, even swerving at the last-minute?
I’m sure the woman in the gospel story was afraid. There must have been a lot of “what if’s” running through her mind. What if she couldn’t get to Jesus? What if the crowd was too big or moved too fast? What if Jesus got mad at her for touching him? What if….? Yet in spite of all these “what if’s” her faith overcame her fears and she pressed on and it was her faith that healed her. She took a risk but was rewarded for doing so.
Friends right now in our churches, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces and schools, even in our own households are people who need to collide with Jesus. Not a light brush in passing or a casual nod over coffee, but a full head on collision. God has put those people in our lives for us to be an example and witness too. Lets not let our fear of taking a risk prevent us from helping to change someone’s eternal life.
Are we meeting that challenge and opportunity head on or are we swerving to avoid it?
…..The clouds broke and the angels cried
You ain’t gotta walk alone
That’s why they put me in your way
And it came upon me wave on wave
And it came upon me wave on wave
You’re the reason I’m still here
Am I the one you were sent to save
And it came upon me wave on wave……
From Wave on Wave by Pat Green