A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?'” 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” 28 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Complete this phrase, “Desperate times call for _________________” Anyone here dealing with a desperate situation in your life, health, work, or relationships? Let me see your hands? If God doesn’t show up, you’re in trouble. Desperate times call for desperate measures. For the Christian, I believe desperate times call for a holy desperation. What I mean by that is that we purpose in our hearts and minds that Jesus has the answer for every challenge we face and we decide that His involvement, His miracle, His comfort, His strength, His perspective, His deliverance . . . they are what we want and we’ll pursue Him and find all of that and more with a passion that I call a “holy desperation.”
In our texts today we see two women with two different needs, desperate needs. However, they share some characteristics. The way they went about getting what was needed from God was very similar. Though it wasn’t easy, though there was risk, both women pressed in or pressed the issue until they received what they needed.
We see in the case of the woman with the issue of blood, that there are times that you need to press in towards the things of God for yourself in order to have your needs met. That doesn’t make you selfish. It merely makes you human. We all have needs from time to time. We all need healing, encouragement, deliverance, strength, or something because the circumstances of life are always changing and from time to time, we find ourselves in need. We don’t need to feel guilty about having a need. Look at your neighbor and say, “Quit feeling guilty. You’re as normal as I am.”
When it comes to their children, parents will stop at nothing to see they have their kids’ needs are met. The Syro-Phoenician woman had a daughter who was tormented by an evil spirit. We see from her example, that there are times that you need to press in towards the things of God for your loved ones.
Both of these people were women and in that day, women were to be seen and not heard. My, how times have changed. J With society against them, minimizing them, it was necessary that they possessed a holy desperation so they could push past the social and religious norms in order to do business with God. I believe it is a Holy Desperation that we need if we are going to experience the deeper things of God and see miracles flow into our lives. Does anyone agree this morning?
From the lives of these two ladies, I want to suggest three aspects of Holy Desperation:
A Holy Desperation Involves Boldness
The woman with the issue of blood made a risky move. According to the religious law, if she touched anyone or even touched anyone’s clothes, she would cause that person to be ceremonially unclean for the rest of the day (Lev. 15:26-27). What she did, pushing through the already pressing crowd was extremely bold. The law would have said she should have been at home and definitely not crawling through a crowd of people.
But listen, when you are desperate you’ll do anything to have your circumstances changed. So what if someone sees you go to the altar for prayer? “Well, I just don’t want to go to the altar because people might think something. . .” Listen, when you are desperate, you don’t care what people think. “Well, someone might think I have a problem.” You do and they do if they have a problem with you having a problem!
You may be wired to be a listener rather than a talker. You may feel more comfortable in a small group setting. You might be someone who enjoys being behind the scenes rather than out in front. That is fine and authentic because that is the way God has created you to be. But when it comes to spiritual things, you are going to need to pray for a Holy Boldness in order to be willing to risk some things, like what people might think or say, in order to press in to take hold of the things of God.
I believe the woman with the issue of blood wanted the healing and then wanted to go home. I think she hoped she could sneak in and out of the crowd, but when God touches a person, that’s not the way it works.
Jesus said, “Who touched me?” This woman who had gone almost unnoticed, her plan going almost according to clockwork, now had a decision to make. Mark 5:32 says she came trembling, scared to death, but boldly was willing to be the center of attention and testify to her healing. And Jesus asked who had touched Him.
God is looking for people who will be bold about their faith and their experiences with God. I believe that’s one reason Jesus instituted baptism. It is a bold public move. I believe that’s why when we get saved we have to “Confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord.” (Romans 10:9) That way, someone can hear our statement of faith.
A holy desperation involves a bold confession. “It’s me. It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” We need to get over being bound by guilt and shame. They are tools of the enemy to keep us from pressing in to the greater things of God. “Pass me not, O gentle Savior” should be the cry of every Christian who seeks to go on with God.
Besides that, when God does something for you, it isn’t never just for you. It is to serve as a testimony to God’s power and care or as an encouragement to someone else. “Well, I can love Jesus in the privacy of my heart.” That’s true, but you can’t give Him glory in the privacy of your heart! I believe God looks for people that He can trust with His glory, people who will boldly not only seek Him but share Him.
The Syro-Phoenician woman was also bold. She was a Gentile. Jesus was trying to withdraw and make himself scarce. He didn’t want anyone to know where he was for a while. It takes boldness to track someone down when they are trying to get away from everyone for a while. She was an outsider to the covenant God had made with the people of Israel, and she asked to be treated like an insider. That took guts!
I remember when my sister and I were kids. She was painfully shy. You wouldn’t know it now because she is the friendliest, most outgoing and crazy person I know. But back then she would use me as her mouthpiece, and ask me to tell other people what she wanted them to know. I just decided one day that I was done with being her “Go Between” and that she needed to learn to speak for herself. To those of you who are relying on someone else’s faith, someone else’s prayer life, someone else’s relationship with the Lord, listen, you won’t get all that you need without boldly going to the Lord to ask for it for yourself.
“Well, my need is so small compared to everyone else’s. I don’t need to bother Jesus with that.” Do you know what you are really saying? “My need isn’t important. I’m not worthy of being addressed and having my needs met by God.” Turn to your neighbor and tell them, “You’re worth it. Go ask.”
The quickest way not to get what you need is not to ask for you. We need a holy boldness as part of a holy desperation if we are going to see the miracles we long for.
A Holy Desperation Involves Humility
When you have a holy desperation, your pride disappears very quickly. You get over the embarrassment of your situation. You’ll do whatever it takes, no matter what others think or how it might feel or look. You will even crawl on your hands and knees through a crowd of people if that is what it takes.
Do you see that our text says that the woman with the issue of blood came to Jesus in her poverty? Mark 5:26 says she was out of money. She had been from doctor to doctor and had spent everything she had. She had nothing to offer Jesus in return for what He might do for her.
She was on her hands and knees, just trying to touch the hem of his garment before her healing and hallelujah, she fell down at his feet after her healing. In other words, Pastor David, “She stayed bowed down!” She was humble before her healing and she was humble after it was over.
I’ve seen too many people who have been helped by God run off and forget they ever encountered Him. There wasn’t a holy desperation for the greater things of God, but simply a desire to have God, like a Jeanie in a bottle, get them out of a tight fix. But those with a holy desperation stay bowed down! “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord,” says the Psalmist and I’ll wait or walk or crawl or pray or do whatever is necessary to get to my Helper.
The Syro-Phoenician woman was humble too. She asked for her daughter to be delivered from the demon and Jesus said, 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “For it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” 28 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “But even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
She was willing to eat the crumbs. Many who had hung around Jesus never showed such a hunger for more of Him, but she knew a crumb from Jesus’ table was worth far more than a seat at the table of the wealthiest of kings!
Jesus threw up a wall just to display how desperate, how hungry she was. She didn’t want special treatment. She wasn’t even asking for the treatment of one inside God’s covenant with Israel. She was willing, just for a crumb. I don’t have a dog, but I know how they like to hang around the table and keep coming around until they get a scrap of something. Rather than “Syro-Phoenician,” I’d like to call this woman “Scrappy.” She wasn’t leaving without her miracle and she didn’t care how it came. She was so humble at this point she was begging for a miracle.
She humbly addressed Jesus as “Lord” in verse 28. That was the only time in the Gospel of Mark that anyone called Jesus “Lord.” She knew she was talking to someone who was Superior. She didn’t disagree with him. She didn’t try to argue. She just humbly continued to state how much of a need she had.
A Holy Desperation Involves Determination
The woman with the issue of blood had already displayed great tenacity. She wasn’t a quitter. She had been pursuing the answer for her situation for twelve years.
Listen, we are spoiled by the conveniences of this life, myself included. If we can’t make it through the drive through in three minutes flat, if our pizza isn’t delivered in 30 minutes or less, if the doctor doesn’t see us on time because he or she is being thorough with a few patients ahead of us, we easily get frustrated, lose heart and sometimes walk out.
We start a new diet and don’t see the scales moving fast enough so we just decide to forget it and start again next week. Church, if there was a special trophy for starters we’d all have a lot of them, wouldn’t we? But listen, the Bible tells us it’s not the starters who get obtain the deeper things of God, but it’s the finishers who do.
The woman with the issue of blood challenges us all to keep with the program. You can’t give up after year one, two, three, or twelve. Get a holy desperation by becoming determined that nothing will keep you from possessing all God has to offer.
The older I get, the less I like crowds. I’m one of those people that like to leave before the game is over (unless Kentucky is playing of course) or who wants to watch the fireworks on TV. More and more, crowds are something I try to avoid.
On the twelfth year of this woman’s desperate attempt to get help she was going to have to deal with a crowd. I don’t even like to go out without my hair and makeup done. I can’t imagine going out into a crowd with a chronic disease that according to religious law was supposed to keep you quarantined. What would those in the crowd think? When you have a determined holy desperation, you don’t care. This woman was determined to see Jesus.
Listen, if we are to have a holy desperation for the things of God we must not, WE MUST NOT allow the crowd to keep us from pressing in to get to Jesus. This Tuesday, all of you middle school and high school students have an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and to press in to Jesus. There will be a representative from our church at both middle schools and both high schools in Putnam County, standing at the flag poles at 7:00 a.m. with you to pray with you for your school in this national “See You at the Pole Day.” Pastor Dave will be at Winfield High. I’ll be at Hurricane High. Pat Smith and Allita Legg will be at Hurricane Middle and Pastor Wendy will be at Winfield middle. Some of you attend other middle schools and other high schools. I’m asking for your parents or others in your school district to come and stand alongside of you as well this Tuesday.
Students, how desperate are you for the things of God? Will you let the opinion of the crowd keep you from participating? I believe God has a blessing for each of you who are willing to put your faith on display, for those of you who will determine that pressing in to God through prayer for your schools is so important that you will push aside any barrier and get yourself there this Tuesday.
This woman who pressed in to Jesus could have had a thousand excuses for staying home that day. She could have thought, “There are too many people around Him. I’ll never make it to Him.” If the crowd was pressing Jesus like the Scriptures said, she, in her weakened physical condition was going to have to press all the harder.
She might have thought, “I’m not important enough to ask Jesus for help!” or “Look, He’s going with Jairus, so I won’t bother Him now.” She could have argued that nothing else had helped her, so why try again? Or she might have concluded that it was not right to come to Jesus as a last resort, after visiting all those physicians. However, she laid aside all arguments and excuses and came by faith to Jesus. She was determined to see her life changed.
Look at the Syro-Phoenician woman. She had tons of reasons to quit before she even got started. To begin with, her nationality was against her: she was a Gentile and Jesus was a Jew. Besides that, she was a woman, and society in that day was dominated by the men. Satan was against her, for one of his demons had taken control in her daughter’s life. In the Matthew 15 account, the disciples were against her; they wanted Jesus to send her away and let Him (and them) have some rest. For a time, it looked as though even Jesus was against her! It was not an easy situation, and yet she triumphed because of her great determination.
To go find someone who is trying to hide, she had to be determined. Just imagine that she’s been tipped off that Jesus was in a particular home. Picture the scene when she knocks on the door and the disciples try to continue to hide Jesus. Maybe they said He wasn’t there. I’m sure they tried to do their best to keep this woman from getting in the door, but listen, when a mother is determined to help her child there may be no stronger earthly force! She wasn’t going to leave that house without seeing Jesus, and she did just that. When she saw Jesus, the Mark text says she just started begging.
The account in Matthew 15:23 of the same story says she started begging and Jesus said nothing. It was like He completely ignored her. His silence meant nothing to this determined woman. She kept on begging, getting closer to Him. Do you know people who won’t take “no” for an answer? That’s the kind of person this woman was.
Are you satisfied with where you are in your relationship with God? Is coming to church on Sundays enough for you? Is once a week Christianity satisfying enough? When was the last time you pressed in with boldness to see if there might be more? When was the last time you bowed in humility to investigate if there was more? When was the last time you pushed your way beyond the barriers and excuses with determination to have a new experience with God?
When there is a holy desperation to see God move in your life, nothing else will matter. You will go with boldness to His throne. You will do whatever He asks, whatever it takes to see God move. And you won’t give up if it takes some time.
C.S. Lewis pictured this holy desperation it in an episode from The Silver Chair. The lion is symbolic of Christ and Jill is a picture of us:
When Jill stopped, she found she was dreadfully thirsty…She listened carefully and felt almost sure she heard the sound of running water. Jill…looked around her very carefully. There was no sign of the Lion; so she plucked up her courage to …look for running water.
…she came to an open glade and saw the stream, bright as glass…[A]lthough the sight of the water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn’t rush forward and drink. She stood still as if she had been turned to stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason: just this side of the stream lay the Lion…
“Are you thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion.
“May I – could I – would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill. “I make no promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer. “Do you eat girls?” she said. “I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion.
“I dare not come and drink,” said Jill. “Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh, dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.” “There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
Church, there is no other stream than Jesus, the Living Water who satisfies all of our needs. And Just like Jesus did when He called the woman with the issue of blood out and just like He did when He hesitated and tested the faith of the Syro-Phoenician woman, I believe we are in a time when He wants to know how much we really want and need Him to be our Source, our Deliverer and our Healer.
Satan wants to keep you spiritually shy and backward so you won’t dare think about pressing through the crowd. He wants to keep you relying on yourself see he keeps you puffed up about your success, your accomplishments or your own personal wisdom to solve your problems. He wants to discourage and defeat you so you will give up. I believe someone is on the verge of healing this morning. Someone is on the verge of salvation. Someone is on the verge of deliverance. Don’t quit too soon. Determine right now that you are going to get to Jesus to present Him with your need and press in until you do.