English: Christ came into Galilee. Parros. In the Bowyer Bible in Bolton Museum, England. Print 4257. From “An Illustrated Commentary on the Gospel of Mark” by Phillip Medhurst. Section C. Jesus goes public. Mark 1:14-20. http://pdfcast.org/pdf/an-illustrated-commentary-by-phillip-medhurst-on-… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Why do some people succeed in life, when others don’t?
In the crowd was a woman who had been suffering from chronic bleeding for twelve years. Although she had been under the care of many doctors and had spent all her money, she had not been helped at all. Actually, she had become worse. Since she had heard about Jesus, she came from behind in the crowd and touched his clothes. She said, “If I can just touch his clothes, I’ll get well.” Her bleeding stopped immediately. She felt cured from her illness. At that moment Jesus felt power had gone out of him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” His disciples said to him, “How can you ask, ‘Who touched me,’ when you see the crowd pressing you on all sides?” But he kept looking around to see the woman who had done this. The woman trembled with fear. She knew what had happened to her. So she quickly bowed in front of him and told him the whole truth. Jesus told her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace! Be cured from your illness.” (Mark 5:25-34, GWV)
If you like to read the really strange stories in the Bible, the Gospel of Mark is a good place to start. The central point of the Gospel of Mark is that Jesus is God, and God is different from the rest of us.This story (which appears in slightly different forms in Matthew and Luke) is a perfect example, but at the same time, it shows who Jesus, as God, really is.
Because of the Old Testament purity laws, anyone with a discharge of any kind was not allowed into the temple. That meant that, for twelve years, this woman was unable to come into the presence of God to receive forgiveness of her sins. So in desperation, when Jesus, God present among his people, came to her neighborhood, she reached out to touch him with the hope that she would be cured.
God came to live among us to give us hope. But so many people in our own community completely lack hope. When I was growing up, I knew that I was going to college. I fully expected to live a reasonably comfortable life. I had stability, consistency, encouragement, and the full love and support of my family, not to mention knowledge of and faith in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In short, I grew up with hope. The same is true for most of you, and if you’re reading this, even if you didn’t grow up with that hope, you probably have it now.
But imagine living in a home where there is no hope. Poverty, abuse or neglect, or any number of other factors pile up, leaving you feeling like not only is life not fair, but the deck is specifically stacked against you. Because you don’t even know that there is such a thing as hope, you don’t even know how to reach for it. Your life is so chaotic, you can’t find employment, and even when you can, it either pays just enough to make you in ineligible for government aid, but still unable to provide for your family, or the chaos leaves you so unable to concentrate and so disorganized, you can’t even make it to work reliably, or you don’t know how to dress for a job interview, or you can’t afford the clothes to wear to the job interview.
Those of us with hope have a few choices to make. We can close our eyes and ears and pretend such a thing doesn’t exist or that the problem is so great, there’s nothing we can do. Or we can look down our noses at them, and thank God that we have our acts together, and why don’t those people just take some responsibility for themselves?
Or, since we have the greatest hope ever, the love of God in Christ, we can take that hope to those without hope. That is what God has called us to do. You see, no amount of government aid will bring hope to the hopeless. It may sustain them while they despair, but only Christ can bring hope where there is no hope to be found. Our leadership is researching the different options available to us to figure out the best method that we can use to bring hope to those without hope, And once we have the details, we will make them available to you, but be assured that it won’t be easy. But Jesus didn’t call us to go the easy path. He called us to pick up our crosses and follow him. He went to the cross to save us, and so we are called to pick up our crosses that others may be saved. It’s going to take commitment and time, but for your time investment, the return on it is eternity for someone else. You’ll never find a better interest rate. It is my hope and prayer that, when the time comes, all of you will, like Isaiah, say, “Here I am. Send me!”