Thesis:When grace is involved, nothing is of greater importance than "faith".
Introduction:In our study last week we tried to address the issues raised by the references to the twelve years. One of those issues is why Luke would tell us two intermingled stories that have "twelve years" as their historical point of reference. It was my conclusion that the two stories are clear examples of how "faith" in Jesus addresses the two major obstacles to Life: pride and despair. The other of those issues is why God would wait twelve years to act in situations that were clearly marked by the presence of Death. It was my conclusion that God has a sense of action and timing that takes in a vast multitude of details without losing sight of His specific goals.
This week we are going to look more closely at the record of the healing of the woman whose life was incrementally draining away -- slowly enough for her to stay alive, but significantly enough to wear away her vitality and hope.
What is it that we are to learn from Luke's effort in recording this?
I. The Facts of the Story.
A. The crowd was "pressing against Him" (NASB).
1. The only other uses of the verb here used are found in the Gospel records of the seed that was sown among the thorns and was kept from bringing any fruit to maturity (8:14).
2. There is no question that in four of the five times the verb is employed by the New Testament there is a malignant antagonism involved: the thorns intend to squelch the Word so that it cannot produce godliness.
3. There is no particular reason to think that this text is significantly different: Luke is not presenting an appealing picture of the Galileans.
a. Given the previous instruction regarding the essential nature of the Kingdom of God (6:20-49) with its deliberate proximity to the same kind of behavior by the crowds (6:19), there can be little doubt that all of the pushing and shoving was not "Kingdom" behavior.
b. If behavior is not "Kingdom behavior", it is malignantly antagonistic behavior.
B. The woman whose life was ebbing away from her in spite of anything she could do about it was a participant in this pushing and shoving.
1. That she was intent upon getting what she wanted without regard for anyone else is the least of the truth about her.
2. According to Leviticus 15:25-27, she was contaminating everyone with whom she was in significant contact and this did not stop her.
a. This cannot be "whitewashed": shedidnotcare what her actions were doing to others.
b. This is the essential nature of malignant antagonism.
3. Our text tells us that she was both secretive and cowardly: these are not admirable qualities.
a. She knew she was out of line.
b. Covetousness is still idolatry.
C. As soon as she touched the extremity of Jesus' garment, she got what she wanted.
1. She did not get what she needed; she got what she thought she wanted.
2. She was just as secretive and cowardly after she got what she thought she wanted as she was before she got it.
II. The Significance of the Story.
A. Jesus had an agenda that was bigger than "Justice".
1. One of the major questions regarding Jesus is, "How is it that He rewards what is obviously not anywhere close to His own description of Kingdom behavior?".
a. We must remember that the surrounding context emphasizes the fact that Jesus gave the demons what they asked, not the delivered.
b. We must also remember that Luke's description of Jairus lacks any kind of "recommending" behavior or character.
c. It is as clear as it can be that Luke's picture of Jesus is that of One Who responds to people according to their desire, not necessarily His.
2. It was His habit to execute power without regard for the character of those clamoring for it.
a. We have already seen Luke 6:19 in this light.
b. We can see Matthew 14:36, Mark 3:10 and 6:56 as reinforcement.
c. Even the introduction to Jairus is potently indicative of the same reality.
3. It was His intent to override "Justice" in the pursuit of "Mercy" (Matthew 9:13 and 12:7).
a. This is the well-known reality of Romans 3:26.
b. It is a precise example of His own "Kingdom behavior" (6:27-28).
B. Jesus had an agenda that pressed for "Peace" (8:48).
1. The translation "Go in peace" is misleading if we take it to mean that the woman had come to "peace" and was to "proceed" in it.
2. Jesus literally said, "Daughter, begin from this point and proceed into peace."
a. Jesus called the woman's driving attitude "Faith" with no regard for all of the elements in it that smelled to high heaven.
1) It was "faith", but it was "loveless" (Note well 1 Corinthians 13:2).
2) But "love" has to have a point of beginning and the Bible says that "point" is the "point" of the exercise of faith.
b. But Jesus had no illusions that His "daughter" had any significant understanding.
3. Jesus was using His "daughter" as an illustration of Luke 7.
a. That chapter began, as an explanation of what it takes to live Kingdom truth, with the example of "faith" and ended with an example of "love".
b. This secretive, self-absorbed, cowardly woman clearly did not have the kind of "love" that Kingdom life requires, but she did have the kind of "faith" it requires -- though not much of that.
c. But, if God really intends to bring us to the Kingdom, He has to begin where we are, and where we are is not pretty.
4. The abiding fact: though Jesus often gave people that for which they clamored, it was not a "reward" for ungodly behavior.
a. Romans 2:4 says that God's intent in doing a person "good" is to alter their attitude(s).
b. But Luke 12:48 says that if that intent is frustrated, heavy consequences will come.