The Bible often refers to Jesus in different ways. Matthew (in chapters 9 and 12) calls Jesus the "Lord of the Harvest" and "The Lord of the Sabbath." In this Mini-Book I'd like to examine a passage of scripture that shows how Jesus is, "The Lord of Hopeless Situations."
21 When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore. 22 One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet 23 and implored Him earnestly, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live." 24 And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him. - Mark 5:21-24
This miracle takes place as Jesus is on His way to heal a young girl upon the request of her father who was a synagogue official (elder). There was a crowd following Him, as always, and a woman approached Him through the crowd.
25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse - Mark 5:25-26
Talk about hopeless:
- She had an issue of blood (hemorrhage or discharge).
- Physical discomfort over a twelve year period.
- She suffered in treatment since the practice of medicine at that time was very primitve.
- Her condition deteriorated and she experienced financial ruin.
- She also had to deal with social rejection because she was "Levitically Unclean."
The Law in the Old Testament times forbade anyone with recurrent bleeding or discharge to be included in normal contact with others (including worship). An indirect reason may have been a form of health protection for a generation that had no protection against communicable diseases. However, the main reason was that these illnesses (especially those involving blood) suggested death, and contact with the dead made one ceremonially (Levitically) unclean.
The idea was: disease = death = sin.
Sin could not coexist with holiness and purity, and to mix the two was not permitted. Those who were unclean had to follow certain regulations in order to purify themselves and demonstrate they were ready to rejoin normal interaction with their community. This clean and unclean instruction was a necessary way to teach them that there existed an acceptable as well as unacceptable status, and that God, who was holy, required a holy people. The details of the Law that dealt with her condition were contained in Leviticus15:25-33:
25 'Now if a woman has a discharge of her blood many days, not at the period of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond that period, all the days of her impure discharge she shall continue as though in her menstrual impurity; she is unclean. 26 Any bed on which she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her like her bed at menstruation; and every thing on which she sits shall be unclean, like her uncleanness at that time. 27 Likewise, whoever touches them shall be unclean and shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. 28 When she becomes clean from her discharge, she shall count off for herself seven days; and afterward she will be clean. 29 Then on the eighth day she shall take for herself two turtledoves or two young pigeons and bring them in to the priest, to the doorway of the tent of meeting. 30 The priest shall offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. So the priest shall make atonement on her behalf before the Lord because of her impure discharge.'
31 "Thus you shall keep the sons of Israel separated from their uncleanness, so that they will not die in their uncleanness by their defiling My tabernacle that is among them." 32 This is the law for the one with a discharge, and for the man who has a seminal emission so that he is unclean by it, 33and for the woman who is ill because of menstrual impurity, and for the one who has a discharge, whether a male or a female, or a man who lies with an unclean woman.
Usually illness draws sympathy and support from others, but her illness caused quite the opposite. Her illness separated her from her health and well being, her wealth, her people and ultimately the comfort and reassurance that she needed in the worship of her God. This woman truly was caught in a hopeless situation, but her situation changed, and here is why.
27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28 For she thought, "If I just touch His garments, I will get well." - Mark 5:27-28
Why the Situation Changed
1. She came to Jesus
She came from behind because of her uncleanness (she wasn't allowed contact for fear of making the other person impure). She came secretly because of her shame; she was unacceptable. Something must be wrong with her because she was still sick. She came with nothing left to offer, but she came to the right person!
You see, your faith is worthless if it's not directed towards the proper objective. This woman learned an important lesson: who you believe in determines the power of your religion. It's not just a general, all purpose faith in a good God that saves us; this is the biggest lie in religion. Only faith specifically focused on Jesus saves; Christianity is very clear and adamant on this point. Better a weak and anxious faith in Jesus Christ, like the worried father who cried out, "I do believe, help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24); better this type of trembling faith than a zealous devotion to a person or thing that has no power to save us:
- false prophets and religions (no matter how big or old)
- human philosophies that exclude God from their order and explanation of existence
These things have appeal and give some sort of meaning to life - but cannot save. This woman came to Jesus with a secret and fearful faith, but the help she needed came nevertheless because it was Jesus who was the object of her faith, and the Lord of hopeless situations did not disappoint her.
Many people have fallen because the object of their faith is a religious leader, a movement, a certain doctrinal position, the size and strength of their church where their faith goes up and down as the size of their congregation goes up and down; but what God is asking us to do is to believe in His Son, that our faith be directed toward Him and Him only. And Jesus, who never changes, who never abandons, who always loves us, will positively save us from every hopeless situation as He did for the woman in this encounter.
... another reason why her situation changed ...
2. She came to Jesus with faith
She not only came to the right person, she also came in the proper manner: she approached with faith. We often describe faith in terms of obedience, perseverance, action, but this doesn't adequately describe what happens in the heart when a person believes. Obedience or perseverance, these don't tell us what this woman was thinking.
Before there is obedience or perseverance etc. there needs to be a trusting act of the heart that unburdens itself from the responsibility of accomplishment, and a transfer of this burden to Jesus Christ. The woman gave to Jesus the responsibility for accomplishing her healing. She had tried and failed, and now she gave the "trying" part over to the Lord. Once this is done, it is a joy to obey; the yoke becomes easy and the burden truly light. Like this woman, we also have a hard time in our spiritual lives because we don't abandon to Jesus the responsibility for:
- accomplishing our own salvation
- affecting our own reconciliation
- producing our own sanctification
Faith, initially, is accepting the fact that Christ has become these things for us.
But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
- I Corinthians 1:30
When Satan stands before the throne of God accusing me, as he does all of us, saying:
- Tell us, what do you know? Do you know all the doctrines? I will answer that all I know is Christ. He will say …
- Explain to us why you deserve to enter into heaven? What have you accomplished? I will confess Christ as my only reason for being before God. Satan will challenge me saying…
- Show us your sinless life. I will point to Jesus' life as my own life where one of His victories cancels out every one of my failures. Finally, in a bid to destroy my hope, Satan will say…
- Give us what you owe God now! I will offer only the cross of Christ as final payment for all of my wicked deeds.
God will accept this from me because He offered me His Son for the very purpose of serving as my wisdom, my righteousness, my sanctification and my redemption because I had none of these things on my own. I also was in a hopeless situation when I first met Jesus, as we all were.
The offer of Christ to serve in this way is what grace is all about, and accepting Him doing all of this for you is what saving faith is all about. If you don't accept Christ in this way, no amount of water will ever wash away your guilt, and no number of good deeds and busy work will ever make you right before God. However, if we hand over the responsibility for accomplishing these things for us to Christ, our repentance will become a joyful experience, and our baptism will truly become a burial of the hopelessly lost sinner and the resurrection of the saved and living saint.
This is why the woman was healed: she gave over to Jesus the responsibility to heal her, and He did!
How the Situation Changed
We said that this woman was healed because she brought her hopeless situation to Jesus in faith. Now let's examine how the situation was changed (we know why, let's look at how).
29 Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My garments?" 31 And His disciples said to Him, "You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, 'Who touched Me?'" 32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction." - Mark 5:29-34
Vs. 29a - The bleeding stopped. The sign of the affliction was stopped.
Vs. 29b - She knew she was well because she felt like her "old self" again. The scourge (literal translation of the word affliction) was gone and she knew it.
Vs. 30-34 - Jesus heals her socially as well. By making her disease and healing a public thing she now would be accepted as "clean" among her peers, and received back into her community and worship at the temple. He knew who touched Him, He knew why, He knew what took place but it was important that she and the people also knew for her benefit and the building up of their faith.
Jesus sends her away healed physically and emotionally. She can leave with joy and peace because she knows that it wasn't coincidence or magic that stopped the flow: it was her faith in Jesus, the Lord of hopeless situations. How many times do we pray and ask for help, and when it comes, we credit our hard work, coincidence or luck rather than to a God who hears and answers prayers?
Our Lord of Hopeless Causes
This story tells us a great deal about this woman and her faith in the Lord, but it also reveals something about the nature of Jesus as the Lord of hopeless situations:
- We are never too damaged or too far gone to come to Him in faith so He can heal us. For this woman Jesus was her last resort.
- Jesus is always aware of our suffering; He never forgets us and our situation. Even in a crowd, He knew this woman and her needs. No matter how lonely, Jesus is aware of us and our needs.
- When Jesus heals, He heals the whole person not just the symptom.
This woman left without physical suffering, and she was at peace with God and herself.
What is the hopeless situation in your life?
- A cycle of fear, loneliness, depression?
- An unhappy or troublesome relationship?
- A burden of guilt?
- Rebellious children, grandchildren?
- Shattered dreams?
- Bad habits?
Whatever it is, this lesson tells you that you need to stop trying to fix it by yourself or faking it by telling everyone that everything is OK when it's not.
The woman in the story ultimately had to bring her problem to Christ and when she did, it was the beginning of hope. She didn't just think about Jesus, or say that maybe the next time He was near her house she might come out to see Him; she came through the crowd and actually touched Him.
There is hope in the idea that a problem is about to end, even if it hasn't completely disappeared. It's a hopeful thing to see the tide beginning to turn in our favor. When I bring the broken things in my life to Christ, even though nothing may immediately change on the surface, I know that the beginning of a complete healing process is under way, and this ignites my hope. I know this is true because I believe that Jesus is not only the Lord of hopeless situations - He is the Lord of hope itself.
- Do you need hope in your life?
- Is there some sort of hopeless situation you face? Why not bring it to Jesus?
Even if you come with a trembling and tentative heart - bring it to Him nevertheless, because the Lord of hopeless situations will never disappoint those who come to Him in faith.
Whatever it is, there is hope in Christ for you.