I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve met a celebrity.
It was the spring of 2004, and we were on our senior band trip in New York City. I stood in line to get on our charter bus, when I saw none other than Dan Aykroyd walking our direction.
Up until that point, I had always assumed that I would be the “non-crazy” individual when seeing a celebrity for the first time. I imagined I would remain calm, tell them how much I appreciated their work, they would say thank you, and we would become lifelong friends.
That wasn’t what happened.
Instead, I screamed at the top my lungs — a few octaves higher than normal — and waved my arms frantically trying to get his attention.
No one else even noticed or cared, including Dan. He just walked right on by.
It can be kind of surreal seeing somebody famous, but there’s nobody we should be more excited to see then Jesus.
In Mark 5:25-34, a woman who had several ailments gave everything she had just a touch of fringe of Jesus’ cloak as He walked by. Her desperate faith can teach us a lot about what it means to believe in God for ourselves.
The Risks of Desperate Faith
Those who are truly committed to following Jesus will risk a lot to get close to Him. It doesn’t matter to them what it costs, because the benefit of intimacy with Jesus far outweighs any of the risks associated with it.
Still, in the interest of being transparent, we have to understand what’s at stake.
In an age where doctors were regarded more as magicians than actual healers, this woman didn’t have a lot of options. She had blood for 12 years and “suffered at the hands of doctors” for most of that time.
She was so desperate for help that all she wanted was just to touch the fringes of Jesus’s clothes. Attain that, she believed, and her health would be restored.
Can anyone relate to that? When was the last time you were so desperate for something that you were willing to do anything to accomplish it?
You feel that way about forgiveness? Hope? Peace?
You may feel like the odds are stacked against you, but faith presses towards the only Being taken grant that: Jesus.
This woman wasn’t the only person in Judea that was eager to get close to Jesus. Both Mark 7:24-30 and Mark 10:46-52 describe a couple of other people that had no problems begging Jesus — even beyond His refusal — to get His attention.
Why are we not so blatant with our faith? When it comes to what we believe, we sometimes hide it under a bushel, worried that someone might think us “strange” for what we believe, or how fervently we believe it.
But when it’s literally a matter of life or death — or our eternal security — we can’t afford to let embarrassment keep us from Jesus.
In the end, it won’t matter what others think of us. The only thing that matters is whether or not we hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Are you willing to do whatever you can to hear that?
Leviticus 15 has strict regulations against anyone who is bleeding for any reason.
Usually, that person has to undergo some cleansing rituals. They’re impure for a period of time, ostracized from others, and have to clean anything they came into contact with.
For this woman in Mark 5, that could have included Jesus.
We know that Jesus wasn’t impure obviously, because as soon as she came into contact with Jesus, she wasn’t bleeding anymore. Jesus’ power healed her immediately.
But that’s not to say that other people in the vicinity would’ve understood that. Or, that even she understood that.
I’m not saying we need to walk into any kind of scenario with an attitude of irreverence, but there may be occasions where we need to risk whatever punishment is there to get close to Jesus.
Someone may well feel that entering into a church for the first time in 20 years may bring a scolding. Instead, it will almost certainly bring a hug.
You may feel like the pain of admitting your wrong to the brother you sinned against is too much. What you may receive instead is forgiveness.
Risking it all to get close to Jesus sometimes includes facing punishment for what we did, but more often than not, we’re surprised at what we get in return.
What Can This Woman Teach Me About My Faith?
There are number of lessons we can learn about this woman’s desperate faith, but here are some I think we would do well to remember.
Faith Has to Be Personalized
Whatever your reason for being a Christian, make it your own. Your faith cannot piggyback off your parents, children, spouse, or friend. You must make your faith personal.
You can, of course, be influenced by those people, but when you’re asked why you believe, the last thing you want to say is “Because my wife made me.”
A great thought exercise can be found in personalizing passages that are meant to be universal.
Take Isaiah 53:5 for example. It reads like this:
“But He was pierced for our offenses,
He was crushed for our wrongdoings;
The punishment for our well-being was laid upon Him,
And by His wounds we are healed.”Isaiah 53:5 (NASB)
Pretty standard verse that most of us have read or heard at some point in our lives.
But what would happen if you replaced the universal “we” or “our” with the personal pronoun I? Or, better yet, your own name?
It might read like this:
“But He was pierced for [my] offenses,
He was crushed for [my] wrongdoings;
The punishment for [Brady’s] well-being was laid upon Him,
And by His wounds, [I] am healed.”Isaiah 53:5 (Personalized Version)
Reads a little different, doesn’t it? Try that with other verses and see how your faith changes.
Faith Has to Be Executed
Do you really think that the bleeding woman was the only person in the crowd that day that had a need? Highly unlikely.
Instead, at least as far as we know, she was the only person that actually did something about it.
It wasn’t enough for her to simply stand in the crowd and wish that Jesus would notice her. She had to reach out, crawl to Him, lunge at His cloak — do whatever she could to simply get a piece of His clothes. If she hadn’t, she most likely wouldn’t have been healed.
We sometimes chide Peter for his lack of faith when he walked on the water towards Jesus, but at least he got out of the boat in the first place! Moreover, when he started to sink, he didn’t look anywhere else except to Jesus, crying out, “Jesus, Master, save me!”
In the same way, we have to be willing to execute our faith. Otherwise, we might as well be a face in the crowd.
Faith Will Be Rewarded
Hebrews 11:6 says that those who have faith must believe “that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Do you believe that?
In Mark 9:20-24, Jesus encounters a man whose son is possessed by a demon. When He pleads out for Jesus to save his son, he makes the mistake of saying “If you can do something,” to which Jesus responds, “If I can? All things are possible for one who believes.”
In one of the most relatable statements ever, the father replies “I do believe, help my unbelief!”
To be fair, that type of “if you can” faith doesn’t usually come from a lack of faith. After all, the dad did approach Jesus to begin with.
What it stems from instead is an abundance of experience. The father is looking at all the things that haven’t worked — exactly like the bleeding woman — and has said, “Well, I’ll try Jesus.”
That’s the wrong attitude. Instead of looking at Jesus as the last resort, He needs to be our first stop. When bad news hits, we need to turn to Him. Not because we have to, but because we know He’s the only One that can do something about it.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re basing your idea of the afterlife on faith. Nobody living today has (actually) experienced death and come back to it. It’s not like a trip you can take to Stonehenge and then tell people here what the experience is like. Death is the ultimate “leap of faith.”
What this really comes down to is who you believe. Will you trust your own logic and understanding about the universe, or will you put all your faith, every drop of it, into the One who created it all?
Is your faith desperate enough?Last modified: September 28, 2023