If you have the time, read Matthew (9:20-22), Mark (5:25-34) and Luke’s (8:43-48) account of the woman with the issue of blood. It is a powerful narrative of the experience that God is seeking for us to have with Him on a daily basis – if we would just reach out to Him with unwavering faith.
After receiving a heart-wrenching plea from Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, to come and lay His hands on his daughter who was in the grasp of death, Jesus was moved with compassion and immediately set off to attend to the emergency at hand. On His journey however, He was accompanied by His disciples and a legion of ‘followers’ who made His journey sluggish.
During this part of Jesus’ ministry, He was well-known throughout the region, many had heard of His acts of benevolence, His healing touch and His sin-shattering words of pardon for those in the clasp of sin. As a result, He accumulated a host of followers. Some of them were following Him because He was the talk of the town, others because their families were, some because it was the new norm, some because they had nothing better to do, others because they did not want to feel left out, some for the privileges and others for eye-service – Jesus had many followers but not many disciples. The vast majority of the followers He accumulated would later be the same hailing “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matthew 21:9) on His entry to Jerusalem. Yet they also would be part of the same multitude which would be exclaiming “Crucify Him, Crucify Him” (John 19:6) and choosing the infamous Barabbas over their innocent Saviour.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the throng that chauffeured Jesus however, was a lowly woman who was longing for a genuine encounter with the Saviour. For over a decade she had been suffering from an issue of blood, but this was deeper than what we may assume: the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), if the blood is polluted then the whole being is too. So with sin, once it enters the system it contaminates the whole being – “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6).
This woman was contaminated for twelve years! All may have seemed well on the outside, but internally there was a great controversy brewing. She had exhausted all avenues in an attempt to resolve her deep-rooted issue; doctors, physicians, self-remedies, counsel, all that money could buy, but nothing availed. She was seeking for a solution in all the wrong places. She was attempting to mend herself with her own might and power, she was drinking from the broken cisterns, for she had not yet been acquainted with the One who came to set at liberty the captives and to provide that living water which whoever drinks – shall never thirst again.
After hearing about Jesus and all that He had done for others, she believed and said in her heart “if only I may but touch His clothes, I shall be made whole” (Mark 5:28). However the professed ‘followers’ of Christ were encircled around her only hope of recovery. Too often, we easily, but also unknowingly create barriers, and stumbling blocks for others trying to genuinely know and have a personal encounter with Jesus. While they were privileged to be in the midst of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, she could only get a look in. But despite the half-baked ‘followers’ of Christ hindering the woman from coming to close contact with the Saviour, she was resolute and was not going to let anyone rob her of a life-changing experience with the One she longed to be acquainted with.
Despite the dense crowd, she pressed with all determination, not allowing circumstances to be her hindrance, by faith she reached out for dear life and touched only the hem of His garment and immediately – she was made whole.
After perceiving that virtue had gone out from Him, Jesus halted the boisterous crowd. After a brief moment of deafening silence, He asked His disciples “who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:30). The disciples dumbfounded by such a seemingly naive question responded “you see the multitude thronging You and You say, ‘Who touched me?’” (Mark 5:31).
Although many were in the presence of the Son of God, the majority were having a mediocre encounter with Him. But the woman, desperate, hopeless but hopeful was longing for something more than a mediocre experience with the Saviour. She was not content with merely being in the presence of Jesus, she desired a moving, life-converting experience with Him.
Too often I come to church one way and leave the same, I come to my morning devotions one way and leave the same, I come to prayer one way and leave the same, I come to His powerful Word, which sustains our being and all the universe, I come to it one way and leave the same – a mediocre experience… denying the power thereof. How can I be in the presence of The Holiest of All and leave the same? – A mediocre experience. God wants so much more for me and you, He is longing to give us that life-changing encounter with Him on a daily basis. If we would reach out to Him in faith, He would show us great and mighty things which we have not known.
Like the woman, we all have a struggle, that sin which so easily besets us and like her we have been trying anything and everything to try and overcome. After continuously struggling in my life I came across this narrative and it was as if I was reading about myself. Just like the woman, I was doing all I could to repair my brokenness, wrestling with sin, on my own. I had my own personal overcoming sin regime, maybe you can relate? When you have fallen so you try and recalculate your steps so that you don’t trip up again, how did that work out for you? Then you conjure up a little routine so you don’t fall again, “let me do this, so this doesn’t happen", "let me not do that, so that, that doesn’t happen"… just a host of self-ordained procedures.
I tried eating healthy, super early five in the morning runs, fasting, accumulating purchases to try and help fix my problems: diaries, journals, books, different versions of the Bible, prayer journals the list can trickle on… things to aid me fix my problems. But, “can an Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? (Jeremiah 13:23) the reality is, “it is not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).
It is not that the things I was doing were wrong in and of themselves, definitely not, but Jesus was not in them. I was doing all those rituals and making all those purchases and the Spirit always whispered to me “do you really think this will please the Lord?” (Isaiah 58:5 NLT). The reality is I was going to all those things before going to Jesus. Subconsciously I believed that these things could be the key to overcoming, but Jesus states – “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Thus like the woman I was kept in the cycle; “she had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse” (Mark 5:26).
For too long, I have been having a mediocre experience with God but that is not His desire for me, or for you – He does not want us to settle for a mediocre experience with Him.
A lack of faith hinders God from doing wonders in our lives. It is not that the power of God is not potent enough, it’s our faith – “this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (1 John 5:4). Don’t let your lack of faith hinder God from doing wonders in your life.
But turn back to the story and look at Jesus’ response to the woman’s faith:
“Be of good cheer, daughter, your faith has made you well.” - Matthew 9:22
The reality is no one seeks after God (Psalm 14:2-3), but look at the beauty of God, Jesus commends the woman for her faith. However, scripture constantly reminds us that God has given us all a measure of faith (Romans 12:3), Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 13:2), and He is the one that began the good work in us (Philippians 1:6) – yet God accredits us with it.
Let me illustrate. When I was younger, I always used to ask my mum for pocket money so I could buy what I wanted. One mother’s day weekend, I approached my mum asking for more pocket money than usual, specifically because I wanted to do something special for her. After getting what I wanted to get her, I surprised her. She was a proud mum, she couldn’t contain her smile. Even though it was her money, and she knew that it was her money that brought her the present, she was genuinely happy because I decided to use what she gave me to bring her joy and to please her. This is the same with God, He has given us all a measure of faith, and He longs to see us use the faith that He has given us to bring joy to Him, using our faith to please Him. What a sad sight it is for Him to see us put our God-given faith to waste by trusting to people, things and our own devices!
We see this beautiful picture of God throughout scripture:
“For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to Him for righteousness” - Romans 4:3
Blind Bartimaeus after exercising faith and being healed, Jesus said to him “Go your way; your faith has made you well” - Mark 9:52
The woman who anointed Jesus’ feet and had her sins forgiven was told “your faith has saved you. Go in peace” - Luke 7:20
“this is the victory that has overcome the world even – our [your] faith” - 1 John 5:4
I don’t know what you have been struggling with or what you are going through right now, but this I do know. Your faith can make you whole, through faith in Him you will overcome. God does not want you to have a mediocre experience with Him. God wants you to move mountains.
If this is your desire say this little prayer with me:
Our heavenly Father, I thank you for your Son Jesus and all that He has done for me.
Father from this day forward, help me not to have a mediocre experience with You,
but to have a daily experience with You that move mountains,
a faith that makes me whole, a faith that overcomes the world.
This is my prayer, in Jesus’ name.