Saturday, March 22, 2008

February 4, 2008

A "Go With God" Moment:

This last week I was reading Mark 5 with an IBS class. I’ve read this account of Jesus healing the woman with the issue of blood countless times but I am always delighted when the Lord shows me something fresh and new. In class, we were discussing the “Big Picture” perspective of this passage. The passage really begins with the disciples’ question regarding Jesus after He has calmed the winds and the waves; “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” The whole story moves carefully yet climactically to the story of the raising of Jarius’ daughter from the dead at the end of chapter 5. The woman with the “flow of blood” is often hidden as a side note on the way. It is certainly a miracle itself, but maybe not as impressive as Jesus’ “controlling of nature” in 4:35-41 or His “raising of the dead” in 5:42. But if you asked the woman herself, she would never speak of her encounter with Jesus in any second-class language. She would tell you that she has been cut off from community for twelve years, for the “flow of blood” is a euphemism for a twelve year menstrual cycle. Culturally that makes her “unclean” and without access to God (through the temple). Forgiveness and fellowship were put on hold until a remedy is found. Every human agency has been contacted, with no medical answer. This kind of “impurity” is a substantial issue in the Old Testament (Lev 15:19-33). Any kind of association with a woman who has this kind of disorder is to be carefully avoided, adding the stigma of a social and religious outcast to the trauma of her lengthy health ordeal. Mark portrays her as a complete outcast in every aspect, unable to approach people and ceremonially unfit to approach God.

I’ll let you read the account of her secretive approach to Jesus. Let me point you to His declaration of her condition following their encounter, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Literally, it reads, “your faith continues to save/heal you.” The word “save/heal” is in the perfect tense, implying an ongoing aspect to this event. Then He says, “Go in peace…Be whole (maybe “be free”?) from your affliction.”

May I add a few simple observations and then tie them to an application? First, the result of the healing event is more than a physical change in the woman’s body. This miracle offers her wholeness. She is no longer ostracized from people or ceremonially from God and His forgiveness. She is wondrously restored. The second observation is based upon the verb tense; there is an ongoing component to this miracle but also to the demand of an ongoing nature of her faith. Maybe I would paraphrase Jesus’ words this way, “As you walk daily in faith, you will be whole.” Third and final observation, wholeness is described by this miracle as restoration to community life and worship, and their reception of this woman back among them with open arms.

Now the application to this: for us all. When God has done a miracle in a person’s life, and faith takes over and they are cleansed, we now, as God’s agents of reconciliation, should welcome them back into our fellowship. No second class citizens of the kingdom please. Moreover, we as the church, have the divine mandate (“call” if you prefer) to “loose” a person of those sins with what I might call sacramental words (“what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”). So there may be an instantaneous aspect to a miracle but its ongoing (lifetime, even eternal life) affect should be implemented by the body of Christ herself. Call this “corporate holiness” if you like. So, may I ask you, is there someone around you who might be struggling with their “cleansing/healing/saving?” Jesus certainly healed them, but He is emphatically asking you to be their brother or sister. Is there room in your family for one more miracle baby?

Now, Go with God

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