Posts Tagged ‘woman with the flow of blood’

She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well. 

It is further reported in  Luke’s Gospel that the woman with the flow of blood touched the “fringe” of His garment (18: 40-48) . Matthew tells us that many touched the same (14: 36) In The Lutheran Study Bible is the following footnote for “fringe”:   “May refer to the tassel that Israelite men were to wear on the four corners of their out garment (Numbers 15:  38-39, Deuteronomy 22: 12). 

Deuteronomy 22: 12:

“You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.

Numbers 15:  38-39:

38“Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. 39And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. (emphasis my own)

How many times is “To  thine own self be true” quoted as Scripture?  It is not.  It’s Polonius’ advice to Laertes in Hamlet.  How many times is the following intoned:  “Follow your heart”?    A public television guru, Joseph Campbell, made a lot of money encouraging people to “follow your bliss”.  Those tassels are an important reminder then and now. 

Now note again what the Lord tells us in His Word:

 And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.

Why are we not to “follow after” our own hearts?                                                Answer:  The heart is deceitful above all things,and desperately sick;who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:8-10

The LORD so understands your heart for all is bound by sin from the origin, original sin, so that He sets us free in His beloved Son.  If we follow our hearts, our bliss, we will be following and obeying our own unregenerate flesh.  Nothing beginning with “I”, can ever lead to eternal life (Karl Barth). We are inclined so to follow our hearts from the get go:  Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51: 5).  The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6: 5)  If we follow our own hearts, then we are lost.  The world loves its own advice and hates the doctrine of original sin. Why?  The flesh is fun and yet we see paraded before us in our own lives, in the daily news, the results of the flesh’s fun:  sin and death, divorce and adultery, adultery and STDs, hatred and murder.   The world hates the doctrine of original sin because it is true! It cuts to the bone!  But without the Gospel it’s hard to take and so the woman touched maybe His tassels, the sign of faithfulness, in the perfectly faithful One, Jesus Christ.  She knew by doing so her uncleanness could defile Him, but she was wrong:  He could be be defiled, but He cleansed her by by her faith in His Word.

What are we to follow?  Back to those tassels:  they are a kind of a commandments’ sacrament of God’s Word.   God will show us in His Law the way we are to walk and will show us when we go astray, so apt to go astray, and like sheep we have all gone astray, each into his own way (Isaiah 53) and the Lord has laid on Him the chastisement that has made us whole.  His flow of blood will stanch the flow of our sin in His mercy.  As the last verse of Psalm 119, all on God’s Law:I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,   for I do not forget your commandments.” The woman with the flow of blood had not forgotten His commandments and this prayer and only in Word of Promise to her could she be  healed:  you as well. As Jesus said to her, he says to all who in faith take hold of Jesus Christ:

 “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

O Lord God, the jut Judge, strong and patient, You know the frailty and wickedness of men.  Be my strength, and all my trust, for my own conscience does not suffice for me.  Although I know nothing by myself, yet I cannot hereby justify myself; without Your mercy, in Your sight shall no man living be justified. Amen.

 (Prayer by Thomas a Kempis, as quoted in The Lutheran Study Bible)

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The Gospel Reading for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost in the 3 year lectionary, Year B  (July1, 2012) is St. Mark 5: 21-43.  This is the narrative of the woman who suffered from the “flow of blood” for 12 years and the eventual death of a 12 year old girl.  

It is easy to gloss over the time reference to the woman and girl, both 12 years.  When a woman suffers so for 12 years, the time seems like forever:  will the pain ever end? Even if the suffering were only for a much shorter time, it would seem too long.  When the young girl gets sick and dies at the age of 12, then 12 years seems to be all too short.

 In Eden we are told that the man had no helpmate suitable for him.  The LORD brings to the man all the creatures but none are suitable.  The LORD Himself observes that it is not good for the man to be alone and so He creates out of Adam’s side, a woman, a helper.  When the LORD brings them together, Adam exclaims, “”This at last is bone of my bones\  and flesh of my flesh…”  How long was Adam alone that he would exclaim, “At last”?!  Even in paradise, to be alone for a minute, in loneliness, will seem like an eternity.  It could have been by our fallen way of reckoning time a minute or a century…too long either way.  

In both Scripture readings the Lord seems so slow.  A woman for 12 years waiting to be healed and Jairus and his family having to wait for their sick daughter to be healed only to find that as Jesus healed the woman with the flow of blood, their daughter had died.  As it is written in 2 Peter 3: But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  We count “slowness” in a much different fashion than the Lord!  He knows when to save and at the right time.  There is a time and a purpose under heaven for the Lord to work His Word for us. There is a solid footnote in the Lutheran Study Bible about this:  

 “Jesus heals Jairus’s daughter and woman with a chronic ailment.  Like Jairus, we often worry that the Lord’s delay in answering our prayers may end up in catastrophe.  But the Eternal One, who overcame death by rising from the dead, never runs out of time.  In fact, His gracious promise is that we will share eternal life with Him.” 

Then there is this prayer in the same footnote:

 Lord, grant us to believe without doubting that You can heal every illness.  Give us patience, as well, that we might be unmoved while waiting for You to act in Your own good time and in accord with Your gracious will. Amen.

And from the Old Testament lesson from Lamentations for today:

 25The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
   to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
   for the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
   the yoke in his youth.

Lamentations 3

For further nourishment, there is great deal of solid evangelical wisdom, in regards to the topic of time and God,  in the hymn we sang this morning,“If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee”:

1. If thou but suffer God to guide thee
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days.
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love
Builds on the Rock that naught can move.

2. What can these anxious cares avail thee,
These never-ceasing moans and sighs?
What can it help if thou bewail thee
O’er each dark moment as it flies?
Our cross and trials do but press
The heavier for our bitterness.

3. Be patient and await His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure
And His discerning love hath sent,
Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
To Him who chose us for His own.

4. God knows full well when times of gladness
Shall be the needful thing for thee.
When He has tried thy soul with sadness
And from all guile has found thee free,
He comes to thee all unaware
And makes thee own His loving care.

5. Nor think amid the fiery trial
That God hath cast thee off unheard,
That he whose hopes meet no denial
Must surely be of God preferred.
Time passes and much change doth bring
And sets a bound to everything.

6. All are alike before the Highest;
‘Tis easy to our God, we know,
To raise thee up, though low thou liest,
To make the rich man poor and low.
True wonders still by Him are wrought
Who setteth up and brings to naught.

7. Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
Perform thy duties faithfully,
And trust His Word, though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed.

Hymn #518
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Ps. 55:22
Author: Georg Neumark, 1640
Translated by: Catherine Winkworth, 1863, alt.
 Composer: Georg Neumark, 1640

And further, this solid hit from the 60s based upon Ecclesiastes 3: 1-14:

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