This post is meant to offer guidance to common “what now” questions that could emerge from pastor J.D.’s sermon on Luke 8:40-56 preached at The Summit Church Saturday/Sunday March 26-27, 2011.
We watch as this nameless lady with a “discharge of blood” comes to Jesus. The crowd was thick enough that she had to “contaminate” many people with her own “uncleanness” as she struggled to get close enough to touch him.
In effect, she came as a thief, wanting something she did not believe to be rightfully hers and wanting to attain it without being noticed.
Unfortunately (at least from her initial perspective), she got caught. She had to be more amazed than anyone else when Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” She was the only one who was trying to hide her touching; not only from Jesus but from everyone else as well. What if everyone learned how she had contaminated them?
Yet, she does something amazing. She “declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him (v. 47).” Wow! She didn’t shush Jesus and ask him to talk privately. She didn’t force Jesus to press her about why. She spoke. She spoke publicly. She spoke in complete honesty.
It was then that she realized she was a “daughter (v. 48).” Her faith to come to Jesus had already sealed this reality (i.e., “your faith has made you well”). However, her honesty allowed her to rest in what was true but unknown. Her honesty allowed her to hear words of affirmation and encouragement where, otherwise, there would have only been the repetition of messages of shame and condemnation.
Two miracles occurred: healing and salvation. Even if she had not been honest, her faith had already made her well, but she would have remained unaware of the second miracle. She would have seen the “sign” but would not have known where it was pointing. Self-protective deceit would have allowed her to have a whole body and a distorted identity.
It is easier to believe you’re a thief when you already know you’re a liar. Shame becomes lodged in your sense of identity. You are separated from God’s grace even while you are surrounded by and benefiting from it, because you will not acknowledge the truth. One part of you is healed while the rest of you whither.
This brings the question to us, “What are we refusing to be honest about that leaves us with a sin-based identity even though we are truly children of God?” In this case, the lady feared being honest about an act of faith. She had done nothing wrong. The answer to this question might not be a sin.
The principle is: we will not know God’s full restoration until we are fully honest. Honesty is itself an act of faith. It declares, “God I believe you are trustworthy with this information. I believe Your grace is greater than my shame. I believe You will act with compassion towards my honesty.”
For us, we need to realize that what hinders our spiritual growth is often not the need for more information, but the need to be honest. Once we are honest about the things we have hidden, then we can experience the more complete transformation available from the Gospel we already know.