20230212 Go in Peace

Luke 8:43-48 NET

43 Now a woman was there who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years but could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak, and at once the bleeding stopped. 45 Then Jesus asked, “Who was it who touched me?” When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are surrounding you and pressing against you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I know that power has gone out from me.” 47 When the woman saw that she could not escape notice, she came trembling and fell down before him. In the presence of all the people, she explained why she had touched him and how she had been immediately healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Today’s text relates the story of a woman who had a prolonged time of intense crisis in her life. She had a physical ailment that was causing her to suffer, and her suffering continued for twelve years. Many of us know what it is like to have a physical problem that will not go away no matter how many doctors we consult, and no matter how many medicines we take. We have a number of people on our prayer list at the back of our church bulletin and in our weekly newsletter, and they stay on the list because they need our prayers regularly. This was a woman like that. She was needy, and she stayed needy for a long time.

We are tempted to think that such people are hopeless, but today’s story shows us that they are not. As long as Jesus is with us, there is always hope for recovery and restoration. This woman needed peace, and she found peace when she found Jesus.

There is a peace that this woman needed that only Jesus could give (43)

Our text tells us that the woman could not be healed by anyone. She probably went from doctor to doctor, only for each physician to eventually shake his head and tell her that there was nothing that he could do. Maybe she consulted specialists in alternative medicine. Maybe she spent time among the quacks and the witch doctors. At any rate, what she got for all her searching was a big goose egg. They could not give her the peace she needed.

Even if we don’t suffer from her ailment, we can understand her problem, because we can all relate to her story. Each of us had a problem that we could not solve ourselves, and nobody we tried could solve it for us. Our problem was that we all had an illness called sin. The Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin is more than just a choice you make. It is a disease that you carry inside you, just like that disease the woman suffered with.

The prophet Isaiah described his nation as if they were a body completely covered in disease. He said, “Your head has a massive wound, your whole body is weak. From the soles of your feet to your head, there is no spot that is unharmed. There are only bruises, cuts, and open wounds. They have not been cleansed or bandaged, nor have they been treated with olive oil” (Isaiah 1:5-6 NET). The irony was that the nation of Israel had access to the LORD God who could heal them of their sin and restore them from all the damage that it had done. But they would not come to him.

We have a word for people who refuse to go to the doctor even when they know the doctor can help them. We call them stupid. But this woman in today’s story was not stupid. She had sought help from many, but she had never found that help. She looked for peace, but so far had never gained peace. But when she saw Jesus, she realized her search was over. Now, the only thing she needed to do was touch him.

She sought Jesus despite the obstacles in her path (44).

The problem was, literally everybody wanted to get to Jesus that day. I wish the same was true today. We have a lot of churches in the Delco area, but most of them are not used very much. We still have a lot of people who have a lot of problems, but most of them are not coming to Jesus for their problems. They have time to go to Judge Judy or Doctor Phil, but they don’t have time to seek out Jesus.

But on this day, there were many things going on, and they all centered around Jesus. In fact, this story of the woman with the hemorrhage is told as part of the larger story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Jesus was on his way to resurrect this girl when the woman came up behind him and touched his tassel. People crowded around him, wanting to witness whatever miracle he was going to do next. Peter was amazed that Jesus even noticed this woman’s touch.

But the good news for all of us is that Jesus is available to meet our needs, despite the fact that the whole world needs him all the time. He is the Lord of the universe and he has time to treat your problem. You don’t have to set up an appointment.

This woman had to fight the crowds. She had to muscle into a position where she could get close enough to Jesus to access his healing power. The obstacles were not going to keep her from getting access to Jesus and the deliverance she had sought for years.

She fearfully confessed her dependence on him (45-47).

When she saw that she could not escape notice, she came trembling and fell before him. In the presence of all the people, she explained why she had touched him and how she had been immediately healed. She had been afraid because her illness was one that made her ritually unclean and she knew that it was unlawful for her to touch anyone else because that would make them ritually unclean. If she had touched any other rabbi, that rabbi would have been justified in having her punished – maybe even put to death.

Craddock points out that in this passage, “Jesus brings God’s blessing to two persons who, while certainly within Judaism, are outside because of ceremonial laws. Maybe the double use of the number twelve (the woman was ill for twelve years, and the girl is twelve years old), symbolic of Israel, is Luke’s reminder that it is within Judaism that these two are outsiders. Because the woman has a discharge of blood, she is unclean, everything she touches is unclean, and whoever touches her is unclean (Lev. 15:25-30). The law was clear; in her own home, in society, and at the synagogue, she was an outsider. The girl, once she dies, defiles those who contact her because of the law concerning a corpse (Num. 19:11-19).”[1]

Look at this event from this woman’s standpoint. She was risking her life to save her life. She was risking destruction to gain deliverance. The only reason this story ended the way it did is that she had gambled on the right Savior. Jesus is the one who made the difference that day. If her faith had been in anyone else, she would have become a victim, not a victor.

That is our story as well. We have come here today to worship God in a Christian church because we have declared our faith in Jesus Christ as the only Savior. We have made our choice, and we have found our peace. There are others who have claimed to have found salvation elsewhere. But we have declared our dependence on him.

On that day, … Jesus gave her healing and peace (48).

Michael Card wrote, “She is the third person in this chapter to be found at the feet of Jesus. First, there was the demoniac, and then there was Jairus. And now this nameless woman confesses before Jesus and the crowd what she has done and what has happened to her as a result. Even though he is on an urgent mission, Jesus pauses to help a poor woman whose illness has marginalized her. It is the only time in all the Gospels that Jesus calls a woman by this tender term. “Daughter,” he says, “your faith has made you well.” It is the same thing he told the sinful woman in Luke 7. In his humility, Jesus will always point away from himself and thereby win praise for God. Although few recognize it, two daughters will be healed in this story.”[2]

He told her to go in peace. She came to him a wreck, she left restored. She came to him broken, she left healed. She came in turmoil, but she left in peace. Her physical healing was only part of the blessing that Jesus gave her that day. We don’t know how long she lived. the Bible does not say. But she probably lived several years after her experience with Christ. She probably had other physical ailments after that. But the peace that Jesus gave her never left.

How do I know that? My own personal experience tells me that. I came to Jesus as a young boy. I have had all kinds of problems since I came to Christ at the age of ten, but the peace that he gave me then has never left me. He told me to go in peace and I did. I touched the tassel of his robe once, and that was all it took. I have faced crisis after crisis, some of them life-threatening, but his peace has never left me. Why? For the same reason that this woman could go in peace. Not because she had been healed of a temporary illness. Because she had met Jesus!

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage” (John 14:27 NET). We have a choice. We can take the peace that Jesus offers and go in it. Or, we can choose to go with the stress and care and anxiety and disorder and fear that the world will throw at us. Like the woman in today’s story, we have a choice. We can choose to carry our old burdens, or to go through life set free from them. She chose to walk away from her old war and live in peace. Jesus gave her that choice. He commanded her to go in peace, and she obeyed his command.

Now, my question for you – Christian believer – is “Have you obeyed this command?” When you came to Christ to touch his tassel and receive salvation from him, did you get it? There is a way to tell. Those who are restored by him go in peace.

[1] Craddock, Fred B. Luke., 2009. p. 119.

[2] Card, Michael. Luke: The Gospel of Amazement. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2011. p. 116.