In Desperate Pursuit of a Transformed Life
As you know we recently returned from a visit back to America to present updates to our supporting churches. This time was extremely valuable because it was a time for reflection on my life. I saw what I was doing well and saw areas where I was worn out: Mental stress, physical Health, Spiritual Stamina, and marital harmony. I knew that for the sake of us being able to liv and minister here in Zambia long-term there had a to be a change. The more I reflected the deeper I saw that the issues ran. I realized it was beyond my capability to fix it myself. The more I evaluated it the more desperate I became to find the solution – to transform what was an area of concern into an area of joy and peace.
You know, every week as I greet people at Kitwe Church I’m always impressed by the reason’s I hear that people have come to church. It isn’t merely a tradition or a habit. There is a genuine desire in people’s hearts to know more, to be more, to experience God more. This is awesome. However, even with good motives like that it is easy to stop short of experiencing a true spiritual breakthrough. You see, it isn’t enough to want to be an improved you, a better you, an inspired you, a respectable you. No, what we all need is a truly transformed life. We need to not stop at just being religious or moral and instead go all the way and be committed to becoming a transformed you. (caterpillar & butterfly)
As I look around this room I see people very much like me even though we may be from very different locations and cultures. I see people who face the same stresses and struggles and want to experience peace and joy. I see people who are doing their very best and yet probably often feel like they are coming up short and the harder you try the farther out of reach that goal may seem.
Today, we are going to look at a woman who demonstrates what it means to pursue transformation in her life – with desperate determination. Let’s read Mark 5:25-34 and as you are turning there, let me tell you some important things about the context of this passage because if you don’t see what leads up to this event and what results from it.
In verse 22 Jesus came across the sea and a very important ruler of the synagogue names Jairus comes to him and asks Jesus to heal his daughter. Synagogues were like churches to the Jews. There was a temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of their worship, but in other cities and towns there was a synagogue where people could go to study the Old Testament Law and worship Jehovah. The ruler of the synagogue was in charge of organizing and teaching the services there. Usually, the ruler was a Pharisee and most of the Pharisees hated Jesus and felt that He was a threat to their power and position.
Well, it is within this story of the synagogue official that this woman shows up and we can learn so much from her experience. The main idea I hope you leave here with today is this…
BIG IDEA: The dilemmas of our lives create a desperate desire for total life transformation that only Jesus can produce but that we must pursue with passion.
Now, let’s read and see what happens (Read Mark 5:25-34).
So, this woman had problems! Problems that are very similar to yours and mine. Let’s see what we can learn from this woman’s life.
- 1. Our Problems Are Interconnected and Far-Reaching in Extent v. 25-26
- ¥ Physical Issues – bleeding for 12 years (as long as Lorelei has been alive). You get physically weak from losing blood. Anemic
- ¥ Financial Issues – vs. 26 says she spent all she had for medical treatments. So she is a very poor woman who is in poor health.
- ¥ Social Issues – In this day, when you shed blood you were viewed as unclean. You were cut off from family, friends, and society. According to OT law (Leviticus 15: 19-23, 25-28) anyone you touch while bleeding becomes unclean with you. No one wanted that, so she was an outcast of society… for 12 years. She couldn’t go into the temple section reserved for women. She couldn’t go into public without making people aware of her condition. I can’t imagine being cut off from society for that long!
- ¥ Mental Issues – All of these other issues will mess with your mind. They produce stress! Who lives with no money and isn’t depressed? Who has sickness for 12 years and doesn’t get discouraged? Who faces social problems of being an outcast and isn’t affected emotionally?
- ¥ Spiritual Issues – All of those issues lead to a huge problem. Where is God when day after day, month after month, year after year everything goes wrong? You know, we expect to go through problems every once in a while, but it is bad when your whole life is a problem.
Have you ever met such a person? You see them coming and you go the other way because you know wherever they go, problems follow? Well, that was this woman! Her entire life was a mess.
Is there anyone here with problems today? Of course there are.
2. Dealing with Problems Often leads to a Dilemma v. 27
A dilemma is a situation where someone has to choose between two or more possible actions, either of which will bring difficulties. So let’s learn from this woman’s experience. We have seen the extent of her problems, but now let’s examine her dilemma. She has a choice to make. Here are her options:
First, she can choose to just give up on ever overcoming her problems. She could decide to just live with all these issues until the day she dies. Now that is hopeless. Maybe some of you have settled for that option in your life.
Second, she could choose to keep trying to find her own solutions like she had done for the past 12 years, but now she has no money so that doesn’t seem to be a good option. Perhaps that is where some of you are with your problems. That seems to be the default setting for many of us. Just work harder. Make a way!
Third, she could risk the public ridicule and venture out into public to be healed by Jesus. This is a big risk for her. Jesus is always in public. She will never be able to find him in private. She has to go out to find him knowing that others will look her at in judgmental ways because she is an outcast. Perhaps, some of you risked ridicule from your family or friends just to come here today. You came hoping to find answers at church, but people may mock you at work this week if they hear that you went to church.
Well, those were the options for this woman. Can you imagine her fears? What if people won’t let her get near Jesus? What if they cast her out of their presence as an unclean person? What if Jesus treats her that way? What if Jesus refuses to heal her? What if Jesus is unable to heal her? Surely, she faced all these fears because she was in a spiritual battle that Satan did not want her to win. What a dilemma. So what did she do? She chose option 3. She went to JESUS!
3.Desperation leads to Determination to Surrender to Jesus so He can Overcome Our Problems v. 27-28
This woman was determined to overcome her problems. She faced her fears and headed into public. She was probably hoping that when she found Jesus in the crowd that perhaps she could at least come to him quietly when things were calm. Can you imagine how disappointed she was to find Jesus right in the middle of a major community event?
He is helping Jairus, the rich, influential, religious, popular leader of the synagogue. The Bible said that the crowd pressed in on Jesus at this point because everyone wanted to see what was going to happen at the house of the Big Bwana. They all wanted to see what Jesus would do for this important man. That is the scene that this woman discovers when she comes to Jesus for help.
She could have given up right there. She could have turned and gone home. She could have thought, who am I to interfere with all this.
Notice the distinctions between this woman and this man.
We know the man’s name – He is Jairus, but this woman is a nobody. Even up to this very day we do not know her name.
This man had money, the woman had none. This man was popular, this woman was an outcast.
So, this nobody comes to Jesus while he is on His way to help a somebody and now this woman’s blessing gets in the way of another person’s blessing.
Wow! She was brave! She was determined. But really, what did she have to lose? When you’ve tried all the doctors in town, when you’ve spent all your money, and no one will talk to you because you are ceremonially unclean it is not a bad idea to try Jesus. I mean, when you have tried everything else and nothing else has worked, perhaps that is a hint that it is time to turn to Jesus. No, perhaps that is where you should have started to begin with.
So here she is. It is a turning point for her and she decides to go through with her plan, but notice how she does it. She sees the crowd and thinks, maybe I can just blend in and no one will see me. She came up behind Jesus. Why? Because she didn’t want to be seen. She is unclean, she doesn’t want anyone to know she is there and cry out “Unclean, Unclean” as they point to her and the crowd disperses with judgment in their eyes and anger that she may have “infected” them with her uncleanness. Perhaps this is one of her bleeding days and it could be an embarrassing moment if someone discovered her. So, she is embarrassed, timid, and cautious.
So, she sneaks up behind him and the text tells us that she wants to touch his coat. Why? Why would she touch his coat? How it that going to help her? You would think she would want to touch Jesus, not his coat. But the text tells us why. She is thinking in her mind, “if I touch his garment I will be made clean.” Why? Well, actually there is some serious theological significance here.
You see, this story is recorded in all three of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and each one gives us a slightly different perspective with details that the others might not give so as serious students of the Bible we need to compare them all – to harmonize the gospels. When we do that we find an interesting detail. In Luke 8: 44 we see that she didn’t want to just touch the coat, she wanted to touch the hem of this coat. You see, it was a full body length coat. This garment went from his shoulders all the way to the ground. There is theological significance here.
First, to touch the hem of anything, you have to get low. She had to get on her knees. She came in humility. She had had to get low to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.
Second, according to the Jewish law as seen in Numbers chapter 14, the men were supposed to wear 4 tassels on the hem of their garments. There were 2 tassels in the front and 2 in the back. They were little extensions on the four corners of the garment. Why did God tell the man to have their clothes made with such tassels? It was theological! This is stuff that you and I would never know without some serious study, but every Jewish person knew this from the training they got in their temples and synagogues at age 13. When a Jewish person saw these tassels it was to remind them that they were a part of the covenant community of God that lives under the commandments of God. The tassels were a visible reminder that you don’t belong to you – you belong to God! In other words, the hem of the garment was a theological reminder that you are my covenant people who live by virtue of my commandments. This Jewish woman knew these details well
Now, let’s see how this connects to this woman’s situation. The text tells us that when she had lost everything – health, money, friends, family, emotional stability – she still had one thing. She still had God. So she said, let me get to that hem!
She believed that since the hem is God’s Commandment based on God’s Covenant and since God said in His covenant that if you come to me based on my commandments I will heal your sickness. She would come to Him in faith. She believed that if she came to God based on his covenant that He would take the curse and flip it around to turn it into a blessing. She thinks, my whole life is a mess, but I believe that if I can get that close to Jesus, He can turn my life around.
Now, there is something else we need to think about. How many Jewish men were in the crowd? Many!!! They all had those 4 tassels on their robes as well. Why didn’t she just touch one of them? No, she wanted to touch Jesus’ garment. Why? She knew who Jesus was! (Read John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word Was God). One of the names for Jesus found in the Bible is the Word of God. He is the Living Word. Nowe, She understood that the tassel represented the written Word of God (The Bible) and she understood that Jesus was the Living Word of God (John 1:1). So, she thought, “If I can ever get the written word of God and the Living Word of God together at the same time I have everything I need for a totally transformed life. Wow! She was right. The tassels represented the Covenant = the Bible = written word of God and the coat was on Jesus, the living word. That was the whole word live and able to transform the whole situation.
And you know what, that same principle applies to use today. Whenever you get this word (the Bible) and that Word (Jesus) you will have every word you need to face any situation.
So, let’s look at what the woman does. She touches Jesus, despite the fact that Leviticus 15 says that if you have an issue of blood you should not touch anyone or you will make them unclean. She defied the Jewish law! That would be like a Zambian disregarding a sacred tribal tradition during a serious event like the birth of a child or death of a loved one. This is a big deal!
Can you imagine what Jairus and the others must have thought? How dare this woman bring her unclean self to the pure Son of God! How dare she defile him and trample on the OT law? What made her think she could do such a thing?
It’s quite simple really. She understood that in Jesus Christ, grace is greater than law! She understood that law came by Moses, but grace came by Jesus. The law said don’t touch, but Jesus said, “Come to me all who are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” Jesus is greater than the law!
So, in an act of faith, the dirty, contaminated, poor, lonely, and anonymous woman touches Jesus. She said, I believe He will heal me and as proof that I believe, I am going to get it.
4. God is Able to Deliver Us from Every Problem in this Sin-Cursed World v. 29 – 34
God does not always choose to remove all troubles in our lives, but He most certainly can and sometimes does. If he leaves problems in our lives it is only because he still wants to teach us more through that problem. The Apostle Paul would later discover this when he would pray for a problem that he called a “thorn in the flesh” to be removed. God could have removed it, but said no. My grace is sufficient for you, but that problem will remain.
However, In verse 29 we see that it was a different case for this women. Here we are told “immediately the flow of her blood dried up. What does that mean? It means that it was actually flowing on this day! Talk about an embarrassing situation. No wonder she went up behind him.
Now we see she immediately gets 2 blessings at once.
First, there was physical healing. Her immediate problem was solved. The bleeding stopped.
Second, her permanent problem was solved. She felt in her body that her affliction – the cause of her bleeding – was healed.
How did she know she was healed? There was this inner confirmation, an inner peace, that not only did Jesus dry you up, but he fixed you up. This inner sense comes from the Holy Spirit. It is a peace that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you will have in the times of your problems as well.
Now let’s notice as Jesus enters the picture. He senses that something happened. Someone stole something from Him. Someone snatched some power from him. So Jesus asks a question.
Now, I know you already know this, but let’s just remind ourselves that when Jesus asks a question in the Bible it is not because he is looking for answers that he is unaware of. Jesus never asks a question to find out new information that he didn’t already know. He would only ask questions to draw out a truth. And he wants to teach an important lesson to this crowd right now.
He said, “Who touched me?” Now, His disciples made themselves look foolish. They should have known what Jesus was up to by this point in his ministry, but instead they say, “Look at this crowd around you. How can you ask a question like who touched me?” The better question might be “Who has not touched you?”
Now, here is an important life lesson. Being part of the crowd, doesn’t mean that you are touching Jesus. Just hanging on for the ride doesn’t mean you are touching Jesus. You can be pressed near Jesus without touching him. It says there was a multitude of people around him, but Jesus only felt one touch. These people thought numbers of people meant access to God, but just because you are in the vicinity of Jesus doesn’t mean you are getting the power from Jesus to deal with the issues of your life. Too many churches are filled with a crowd, but no one is actually touching Jesus. They might be talking about him, singing about him, but never experiencing a relationship with him that makes a difference in their life.
The question I have for you this morning is not, are you part of the crowd, bur are you the one at the hem of the garment because that is where the power is. Are you kneeling humbly at the feet of Jesus today ready for him to change your life?
Well, the Bible says that Jesus looked to see the woman who touched him. He knew who she was. He didn’t have to search for her. He knew where she was.
She was scared to death. She came to him trembling! Was her fear of humiliation about to happen? She knew who Jesus was. She recognized that she was in the presence of greatness. Sadly, I’m afraid that we have many people coming to churches all over the world, week after week and they don’t know who they are dealing with. I’m afraid that a lot of people who show up don’t know who they’re “worshipping.” Jesus Christ is not some superman. He is the eternal Son of God who is here to declare the purpose and the power of God to the people of God who are willing to stoop down and touch the hem of his garment.
So, this woman, scared to death comes trembling before Jesus and admits that she touched him. She comes before him in spirit and in truth and she worships him.
Now we see why Jesus asked who touched him. There are 4 clear reasons.
- 1. God never gives a blessing for which He does not want the glory. He wanted an expression of gratitude.
- 2. He is not done blessing her yet. She started this day as a nobody. Now she is called “Daughter”. When God touchs you, you know that you aren’t a nobody anymore. He didn’t call Jairus, “Son,” but her calls her “daughter.” Jesus doesn’t just know her by name, but also by relationship. He calls her up in public and in doing so he changed her reputation in an instant. She is no longer an outcast!
- 3. Now he wants to confirm a spiritual blessing. He tells her to go in peace. The Jewish word for peace is “Shalom.” It means to have a well-ordered life. She started this day with her life being a mess, now Jesus told her to go live a well ordered life. He was going to fix her whole life, not just her health. How? Through spiritual salvation – the greek word in vs. 34 for “made you well” can mean both “heal” and “save.” This day was not just the day of physical healing for her. This was her day of being spiritually born again. Jesus didn’t come just to heal the sick. He came to seek and to save the lost. Today, she had been found!
You see, Jesus asked who touched him so he could get all this out in the open so he could do the other things he also wanted to do for her and for others.
But Jesus isn’t done yet. He still wants to reveal Himself more to the crowd. Remember how this all started. Jesus is on the way to the house of Jairus to heal his daughter. That brings us to our last point.
4. When God is praised for blessing one of us it strengthens the faith of others who are desperate for transformation v. 35-43 (read)
Now, while Jesus is still speaking, the servants come and say to Jairus, your daughter has died.
Can you imagine the emotions that Jairus must have been feeling? Most people would have responded with anger! They would say, “Wait a minute Jesus. I came to you first and now this outcast came up and you had to stop and talk to her. If you would have just come with me, my daughter would be healed. But, instead you gave her a blessing and it caused me to miss out on mine. While you helped her, my daughter died.”
You know, there are many of us who act that way. God, why are you giving that person the job I wanted? Why does that woman get a husband while I am still single? Why can that woman get pregnant while I am still barren? Why does everyone else get the blessing while you leave me to suffer and things just seem to be getting worse?
Many of us struggle with thoughts like that, but not Jairus. When he saw what Jesus did for the other woman his faith increased. The same God that took care of that woman is capable of healing my daughter or even raising her from that dead! Do you see the power of a testimony? This woman’s testimony increased the faith of a religious leader.
That is why it is so important to share a testimony. Others need to hear what God did for you so that their faith will be increased to know that God can meet their needs too.
Even when things seem worse, God is able – so keep believing. Jesus may delay your blessing to help another person but he hasn’t forgotten you. No, in this story, Jesus took his time so he could do the greater miracle. After all, It is a greater miracle to raise a dead daughter than to heal a sick daughter. God will do miracles in the lives of others, not to leave you out of it, but to prepare you for even greater things.
Some of you wonder why God is blessing everyone else but he hasn’t gotten to your house yet. Don’t give up on Jesus Christ just because he hasn’t arrived yet. He has something greater in store for you. You just make sure you are where the woman was – at the hem of his garment.
You make sure that you are hanging on to the written word and the living Word because he is able to exceedingly, abundantly above all that you ask or imagine.
So, today we have seen that the dilemmas of our lives create a desperate desire for total life transformation that only Jesus can produce but that we must pursue with passion.
We are all here because we want to grow – to improve. What if we begin to want the Healer more than the healing, the Deliverer more than the delivering, the Giver more than the giving? What if we want God more than they wanted anything? That is when transformation can really happen.
Are you ready to be transformed? You can’t be satisfied with being a better “caterpillar you”. You must submit to the process of God to make you the new “butterfly” you.
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Would you like to discuss this? Contact Pastor Jamie Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org