“Who Is The Miracle Worker?”
Text: Luke 8: 42-48
As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. 43 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians,[a] no one could cure her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. 45 Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter[b] said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.” 47 When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
There are a couple of observations I want to make about this text to get us started as we look closely at this story. The first of those observations is that this story appears in all three of the synoptic Gospels. That is it can be found in Mark, and Matthew as well as the text which I read from Luke. If you go and look up those stories, you will find the same basic thread and details of the story to be pretty much the same, with just a couple of exceptions. It is those exceptions that I find of particular interest.
Both stories in Mark and Matthew state that the woman had told herself that if she could just touch the hem of the garment that Jesus wore, she could be healed. Luke leaves that little bit of detail out of his story; as we move through our study of this text, we may make some guesses as to why that might be the case. But all we can do is guess. Another detail that has been omitted by Luke is the detail that even though the woman had been seen for the past 12 years by physicians, not only had she not gotten any better, but in fact had gotten worse. In Mark the text actually says that she had endured much under many physicians, she had spent all she had, and she was no better, but rather grew worse.
In Matthew, we find similar language about most of the details, but the part about physicians and spending lots of money on them even as she grew worse is not there.
I know we have covered some of this ground before, but just as a reminder, Mark was the first Gospel written. Bible scholars believe that the authors of both Matthew and Luke had copies of Mark that they worked from as they were writing their gospels. So the omissions in Luke are all present in Mark, so we can assume that Luke made some sort of a specific decision about leaving them out.
Just to review, in Mark, the story tells us that the woman had thought to herself she could be healed if only she could just touch the garment of Jesus. This detail is absent in Luke.
In Mark, we can also find details that the woman had seen many physicians, had endured much under those physicians, had spent all of her money on the physicians, but was not any better, but rather grew worse. Luke mentions she had spent all she had on physicians, but none could cure her.
If you read the two accounts, that is the Mark version and the Luke version, it becomes immediately obvious that Luke takes a little softer position with regard to the physicians. He almost downplays it a little bit. I think this could be because Luke himself was a physician and he was casting the best light possible upon his profession in this particular case. In politics, they call that spin.
Not only was Luke a physician, but he was also a bit of a scientist and that could be part of the reason that the woman’s self-talk about just touching the garment of Jesus is left out. Perhaps Luke has no confidence in the power of self-talk. The self-talk can be found in both the Mark and Matthew versions of this story.
This is where I think things begin to get really interesting. It is clear from all three of these stories that Jesus was in the midst of a huge crowd and there were people crowding around him all the time. As a matter of fact, when Jesus asked the question; “who touched me?” the disciples were a little surprised, because he had been touched and bumped into and jostled around by the crowd. The disciples responded by pointing that out to Jesus, how can you even ask that question, the crowd has been pressing around you all day. Probably hundreds of people have touched you. They thought the question was a little crazy. But Jesus insisted that someone had touched him and he felt the power of the spirit, the actual healing energy, leave his body. At that point, the woman comes forward and says it was her who had touched him.
What I think is so interesting is that it is the self-talk of the woman that makes her unique among the crowd. Think about this. A crowd of thousands, hundreds of people crowding around Jesus as he walks through the crowd. Hundreds of people touching him in a variety of ways. Everybody who turned out to see Jesus on that day probably had something on their mind. It could have been a physical infirmity of some kind, it could have been mental anxiety or stress about a situation or circumstance, others were just curious about who this Jesus was, but everyone there had a reason to be there. Of the hundreds that potentially touched Jesus that day, only one was healed?
If the power to heal actually resided in Jesus, and all that was required was a touch, should not hundreds have been healed by the touch and not just the one?
What made this one different and unique? What made this one eligible to be healed when others were not? Was this a decision that Jesus made? I don’t think so, I think it was a decision the woman made. I believe the woman had the power of intention working on her behalf, and in short, she was able to receive what she expected. Of course this isn’t very scientific, nor does it give all the credit to Jesus, but I think that is what happened. I also think that may be part of the reason that Luke left it out. For a physician it is often difficult for them to accept the power of the mind or the power of the spirit to overcome disease and infirmity.
I was asked recently about how I would define God. As I constructed an answer to this question, I realized that my answer sounded very familiar to what I remembered reading in a book several years earlier by Dr. Wayne Dyer. That book is actually titled “The Power of Intention” and in it Wayne Dyer explains how he believes there is a field of energy which he calls intention. I might call that field of energy God.
I think it is very possible that the woman in our story found Jesus to be the access point to this field of Divine energy. Once accessed, the healing was automatic. But how was the field of energy actually accessed and utilized? Was it Jesus, or was it the intention of the woman? This, of course, brings us full circle to the title of my sermon, “Who is the miracle worker?”
We of course will never know that answers to these questions as an absolute certainty. I believe that Jesus could be considered a super-conductor of sorts of this field of Divine energy. If one would approach Jesus knowing this to be the case, and come into contact with that energy, naturally, Divine healing could be the result. It is possible, even likely, that those who were touching Jesus on that day were unaware of his super-conductor status, and so they did not find what they were not looking for.
I believe we have much more control over our situations and circumstances than we would like to admit. When we admit it and recognize it, we no longer have handy scapegoats on which to lay the responsibility for our situation. I think this story gives us just a glimpse of the true power of intention, the power of self-talk and the power of connecting with that Divine energy.
It was the woman’s intention to touch the garment of Jesus that made her unique in the crowd that day, and it was her intention that put her in the position of connecting with the healing energy that is available to us all.
What is your intention? What is your self-talk? What are your connecting points to the Divine energy that flows through all of creation? If you are not connected in all the ways you desire, where does the responsibility for that rest?
This is of course food for thought. Go in peace and go with intention. Amen.