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Beginning Faith

Luke 8:48 (ESV) … “And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

Luke’s account implies that Jesus immediately set out with Jairus—with no hesitation. Jesus quickly responds to all who sincerely call on him. But “as Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him” (v. 42b). It must have been excruciating for Jairus as he and Jesus were slowed down like a modern ambulance in heavy traffic. The crowd meant no ill. It was simply that no one wanted to miss anything.

Then, to Jairus’ awful dismay, everything came to a halt, for there was another desperate person there that day, an unknown woman with a hemorrhage: “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped” (vv. 43, 44).

The poor woman had done her best to escape notice. The religious people in the crowd would have been angry had they known she was mingling with them and infecting them with uncleanness. But she found it was easier to get close to Jesus in the press of the crowd. She was undoubtedly humiliated by her illness and wanted anonymity but took a risk because she was desperate.

Probably she, like so many in her day, believed that sometimes the garments or even the shadow of the godly could bring healing. So as Jesus passed by, she reached out and momentarily closed her trembling hand around the edge of his cloak, or perhaps one of its four tassels (cf. Numbers 15:37–40). And in a vivid moment that lives in her eternal memory, she felt healing course through her body, and she knew she was whole!

Jesus realized that his healing power had gone forth (in fact, he had willed it). “ ‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter [undoubtedly opening his mouth to change feet] said, ‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you’ ” (v. 45). Peter thought Christ was being irrational or even foolish. “But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me’ ” (v. 46).

How poor Jairus must have chafed at this interruption. Precious time was being wasted while his little daughter’s life was slipping away. “Come on, Jesus. My daughter is dying and you’re worried about someone in this rude crowd touching you?” But Jesus’ providential plan had greater things on tap—not only for the woman but for Jairus and his family.

The woman’s heart was throbbing with joy and fear, her eyes tearing. Christ was calling her to stand before the throng, for her sake and for Jairus’, though she did not know it. Would he take away her cure because she had disobeyed the Law? What would the people think of her? What would they do to her? The woman’s faith was at its core an ignorant faith. She had sought a magical cure, as if Jesus was so charged with healing that anyone who touched him would get zapped with health. Her faith was uninformed, superstitious, presumptuous, and imperfect, but it was real. And Christ honored her fledgling faith.

God does the same thing today. Beginning faith is often uninformed and mixed with errors and misconceptions about, for example, Christ’s person, the Trinity, the Atonement, grace/works, or the Scriptures. But foggy understandings are often the true beginning of an authentic, informed trust in God. We can take courage in the fact that we do not have to have everything figured out doctrinally in order to possess a faith that pleases God. Certainly we must believe that Christ is God, and that he died for our sins. We must rest everything on that. But true faith is not the sole property of the spiritually elite or those with the most Christian education.

The woman’s faith was not only ignorant but also unconsciously selfish. She wanted health, but she did not especially care about the Healer. This is common with beginning faith. We come to him because of some problem—we reach out in stumbling faith amidst the press of the crowd. But recognizing a genuine yearning and trust, he touches us with his love.[1]

[1] Hughes, R. K. (1998). Luke: that you may know the truth (pp. 317–318). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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