Practical Faith

Today I am going to wrap up my series on faith. Specifically, the spoken word and its connection to practical faith, the faith that Jesus asks of His disciples and us. Let’s take a moment to unpack the woman with the hemorrhage problem. To put things into context, it says that she “had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. [Mark 5:25-26] Tell me can you feel her pain, I know I can. How many of us are in the same boat when it comes to our doctors, our health? Lot’s of pain and money and no cure in sight, just a bunch of excuses and high dollar pills that don’t seem to work or they make you feel worse than the whatever their trying to cure. So, we tend to lose faith in them, you know what I mean. We become jaded, but we keep going back to them because there’s nothing else right? Well this woman had faith, practical faith. She didn’t think it word work… she knew that it would. If only she could just touch the hem of His robe. Her faith did not require acknowledgement. No one had to say look at her, look how strong her faith is? No, in fact she would have preferred that no one knew about it. This is where we must do some unpacking, the bible does not really specify what type of hemorrhaging the woman was experiencing, so we speculate. No one knows for sure but the most obvious is that she had a very unusual menstrual cycle, probably heavy and frequent. Today it’s known as menorrhagia and women have options, a much better understanding of their bodies and OBGYN’s. 2000 years ago, not so much you see according to Mosaic law a woman was considered unclean during this time, forgive me but to really understand what I am getting at to really unpack her situation we need to know what it was like for her, so please listen this is [Leviticus 15:19-34]  “19 When a woman has a discharge of blood that is her regular discharge from her body, she shall be in her impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. 20 Everything upon which she lies during her impurity shall be unclean; everything also upon which she sits shall be unclean. 21 Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening. 22 Whoever touches anything upon which she sits shall wash his clothes, and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening; 23 whether it is the bed or anything upon which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening. Notice the dynamics of this law, anything she touches becomes unclean but the person who is defiled is not the women but the man. Whoever touches anything upon which she sits shall wash his clothes, can you imagine, who in their right minds would want to deal with this. Women had their own area where they could go, and others would not have to go to extravagant lengths to live. This made it difficult to care for their husbands and children, it’s also one of the reasons for having extended families living together. So, women were set apart during this time. 24 If any man lies with her, and her impurity falls on him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean. So, now the man must be set apart as well, if he should desire to keep his wife with him, it was a huge risk. No man could afford to be considered unclean for seven days. How would he provide for the rest of his family? 25 If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness; as in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. 26 Every bed on which she lies during all the days of her discharge shall be treated as the bed of her impurity; and everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her impurity. 27 Whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening. So, for twelve years this woman has been put apart from everyone, forbidden contact with anyone except other women in the same situation. Then to top it off, 28 If she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count seven days, and after that she shall be clean. 29 On the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 30 The priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make atonement on her behalf before the Lord for her unclean discharge.”  Now, you must wait seven days to prove your clean and then pay for forgiveness for having your period. So just to break it down to something manageable. If you had your period, you were unclean for seven days and anything you touched or that touched you was unclean until it had been washed and night had fallen, You, were ostracized for seven days, under the best of conditions, and had to wait another seven days to be sure and then pay essentially a sin tax and this was just life for the average Jewish woman. This woman would never have been able to marry, what man would want to deal with it, no one would want to be around her, because of the risk. She would have had great difficulties supporting herself she may not have been able to afford the sin offerings, regardless. Her family wouldn’t want her around for the same reasons. It would have been impossible for her to care for a family. I can only imagine, but this woman’s life must have been a constant hell for twelve years. She would have been treated just like a leper. She was desperate and had nothing to lose, the bible says she was terrified. But she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. [Mark 5:28-29] Now that is practical faith. Practical faith requires us to be practical and part of that practicality is our confession, we need to acknowledge our faith and God’s grace. This is how we glorify Him. Not by sneaking around mumbling under your breath, about how you wished you could win the lottery. God knows when we are in need. He feels our need, it pulls at Him constantly. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” I always thought this was a bit funny, the disciples are all, seriously, there’s a thousand people around you and you want to find one person, really? Really, God knows your name, He knows when you are in need, but you still must speak up or you get lost in the crowd. Now we know without a doubt that Jesus could have taken back His power and obviously so does the woman. 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. [Mark 5:32-33] You see it’s not enough that we desire God’s grace within ourselves, we need to… we must bring it to the cross. It’s necessary that we acknowledge God’s sovereign power over our lives. The spoken word is powerful, it’s also binding, you know what I mean. When you speak something out loud there is a sense of commitment.  There’s a sense of solidity, there is substance in the spoken word. Throughout the bible the spoken word is powerful. The greatest example being Genesis 1:1-31 and God spoke… creating the universe and everything in it.  “Let there be light” … Something a little less lofty perhaps, how about Isaiah 55:11 “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. That purpose, that substance, that sense of conviction, is lacking, it’s powerless, when you just think to yourself, when you keep it inside. Of course, she wanted to bury her shame and pain inside (we all do) but instead she confessed it all to Him. Laid it all on the line and Jesus gave her what she really needed, 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” [Mark 5:34] He gave her peace, absolution. The sure knowledge that all was now well with her. He gave her back her life. Just like he did with some of us. Just like He will with all who ask, with all who have faith in Him. Amen. 

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