Sometimes, life has seemed to deal us a horrible hand every time we try to do anything. So many people are at the point of giving up on God, on life, on church and on themselves. I want you to think with me for a moment of two people that Jesus met during his ministry and how he worked to redeem each of them. Both of these are ladies that were part of the Jewish family who believed in God and wanted to do what was right but life had certainly been hard for them.
The first is mentioned in Luke 13:10-17. It was a Sabbath Day and Jesus, as was his custom, went to the Synagogue to worship. While there he saw a woman there for the worship who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. “She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.” Just stop for a little bit and think about her plight. Eighteen years is a long time to deal with some disability. Imagine having that back problem that has occasionally hit after doing some kind of work lifting things and you need some relief to get up and move around the next day. Now, multiply that pain and make it so bad that it has been years since you have been able to stand up straight and see the world or look another person in the eye. If she was like most of us she had seen many doctors and had been given hundreds of remedies by other people who had a backache one time and they can tell you what they did to get relief. After a few years you feel like you have tried every remedy that anyone could think of or mention to you, but nothing has worked. You are still bent over, still can’t stand up straight and still dealing with the pain every day. Imagine trying to do the work around the house or care for children in the home in such a situation. After eighteen years, she had to be tired out and had likely given up on even praying about the problem. I can imagine her saying to herself as she came to the synagogue, “I hope no one mentions praying for me today. We’ve had special prayers for my back a hundred times and nothing has changed. It just continues to get worse all the time. I don’t want to think about it and sure don’t want to talk about it.”
One thing was totally different about this day at the synagogue. Jesus was there. He called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from you infirmity.’ Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.” It had been a long hard road, but suddenly her life was changed and she could stand tall. While she was rejoicing and praising God, how do you suppose the religious leaders around her felt about the whole thing? They were indignant, “because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, ‘There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” He was far more interested in the rules than the woman and her problems. Jesus immediately called attention to their inconsistency by saying, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”
The other lady was discussed by Luke in chapter eight, beginning in verse 40. This woman had a problem with bleeding. Her monthly period of menstruation didn’t ever stop. We really have no idea how old this woman was. We only know she had been dealing with the problem for twelve years. It was not just a physical problem for her. Since a woman under the Old Testament was considered unclean during her months cycle, she would have been unclean all the time. She couldn’t touch anyone and anyone who touched her was unclean. So, for twelve years, she was alone, lonely, afraid and horribly discouraged. She had gone to lots of doctors and they had taken her money. Probably they had offered her some kind of cure, but nothing had worked. I suspect she too had been told by tons of people that if she would just do this she would be well. Surely the family had prayed for her over and over again. But her money was gone, her body would have certainly deteriorated during those years of constant bleeding. Imagine what she thought when someone mentioned to her that there was a man called Jesus who was able to heal people. You should go see him. How would you have felt? Probably, like this is a waste of my time. What can he do that others haven’t done?
But, maybe after thinking about it or even praying about it, she made up her mind that she was going to somehow get to Jesus. Now for a woman who was unclean this was a problem. Since if anyone recognized her when she went into the crowd that was around Jesus, they would likely have screamed at her that she was unclean, she shouldn’t be there. But she decided, that “If I can just touch his garment I will be healed.” We don’t know how many times she tried to get to him before she reached him in that crowd. Jesus was walking rather rapidly with Jairus, a synagogue leader whose twelve year old daughter was dying and he had pleaded with Jesus to come heal her. It is interesting that the daughter was twelve years old and the woman had been having a constant period for twelve long years. Finally, she was close enough to Jesus to touch the edge of his cloak. She reached out and touched it and “immediately her bleeding stopped.”
Jesus turned around and asked, “Who touched me?” It seemed like such a crazy question to the disciples with people all crowded around him. But he felt power go out of him and knew someone had touched him in a different way. As he looked over the crowd the woman saw she couldn’t go unnoticed. She fell at his feet and before the whole crowd told him why she had touched him and how she was cured. I wonder what she expected to happen then. Probably she was expecting a rebuke for coming into the crowd as one who was unclean. But Jesus wasn’t like that. He said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” When he said, “Daughter” she must have gotten a feeling this was different. No rebuke. Instead he claimed her as family. He attributed her healing to her faith. Of course, all the faith in the world wouldn’t have healed her if she hadn’t touched Jesus’ garment. It wasn’t an empty faith, but a faith that was in the right person that led to the right actions and had the right results.
Just as these two ladies were discouraged, tired and ready to give up, there are thousands of people that we meet every day in life that are worn out. They have tried so many times to get things right and it has fallen in around them. Now it just seems hopeless. Let me tell you that Jesus is still the one who can bring help, healing and new life to anyone who comes to him. Does that mean that if we come to him that every ailment we struggle with will be taken away? NO, Paul had a thorn in the flesh that God wouldn’t take away. Timothy had constant stomach problems that weren’t healed. Trophimus was left in Miletus sick. But I will tell you that with Jesus the burdens, the weariness and fears can be taken away. He is there, ready and willing to forgive and welcome us into the family of God’s people anytime. You may say, “Yes, but the church won’t welcome me back. They think I’m unclean because of something I’ve done or because of my marriage situation.” Let me tell you that lots of folks who think they are in God’s church aren’t and just as there were religious leaders back then who couldn’t see things in the way Jesus did, there still are lots of those. But the fact you have had a bad experience in one place or even two or three places, doesn’t mean every church is like that. If a church isn’t trying to be like Jesus it isn’t right with him anyway.
Our God redeems those who are tired, ready to throw in the towel and give up. He loves you and says, “Come to me.”