January 6, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 8:47-48 (NRSV)
When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
Jesus came to bring wholeness to broken people, and even to a broken world. His salvation is not merely about physical healing or even life after death. It’s a matter of pervasive restoration. For individuals, it includes the healing of bodies, minds, hearts, and relationships. For the world, the wholeness of Jesus involves justice for the oppressed and peace for the creation.
Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion we saw just how much Jesus valued the wholeness of man who had been broken by demonic possession. Today, we see another dimension of Jesus’s commitment to human wholeness.
When Jesus returned to the western side of the Sea of Galilee, a synagogue leader prevailed upon him to come to his house and heal his daughter. On the way there, a woman with a terrible physical ailment sneaked up behind Jesus in a crowd and touched his clothing. Immediately she was healed. But Jesus, sensing that something powerful had just happened, stopped so that the woman was forced to reveal herself to Jesus and the crowd. She explained why she had touched him and how she had been healed. Jesus responded, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (Luke 8:48).
This story illustrates, as do many in Luke, that Jesus had the power to make people physically whole. In fact, it appears that he could heal without even knowing he was doing it! But, as amazing as this is, we learn more about Jesus’s commitment to wholeness from what happened after the healing miracle.
At first glance, Jesus’s behavior in this story might seem odd, even unkind. By making the woman reveal herself, he implicitly required her to openly admit what her problem had been. This required her to share intimate details of her life. But, even more, it meant that she had to admit to having been ceremonially unclean. Moreover, by touching Jesus as she had done, the woman compromised his ritual purity. This was a shocking thing in the culture of Jesus, something the crowd would have despised.
Yet Jesus didn’t leave the woman in her shame. First of all, he addressed her as “Daughter,” underscoring that she was a true member of the family of God (Luke 8:48). Second, he said, “your faith has made you well.” The verb translated here as “made you well” is actually the Greek verb rendered elsewhere as “to save” (sozo). In this context, it might well be translated as it is in The Message, “Now you’re healed and whole.”
By calling this woman out as Jesus did and by speaking to her as he did, Jesus granted her wholeness beyond mere physical healing. Her previous condition had cut her off from close relationships in her community. Her ritual impurity required a first-century version of social distancing. But once she was physically healed, she was eligible to be restored in a communal sense. Yet, for this to happen, a person in authority needed to vouch for her healing. That’s exactly what Jesus did.
This story is a moving illustration of the fact that Jesus is not concerned only about our physical wholeness. In fact, he’s not concerned only about our life beyond death. Rather, Jesus is committed to helping us become fully whole. And our own personal wholeness is not even the end of it. Jesus has come to bring wholeness to a broken creation, to unite all that has been shattered because of sin (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:9-10). Thus, the wholeness of Jesus includes justice for the oppressed and peace for the creation. We are blessed to be able to experience a measure of that wholeness in this age, even as we look forward to the complete wholeness of the age to come.
Have you ever experienced the healing power of Jesus? If so, when? What happened?
How do you respond to the story in Luke 8:43-48? What thoughts does this story stir up in you? What feelings?
Who are some of the people in our day who are like the woman in this story, people in need of multiple facets of healing?
Talk with your small group or a wise friend about how you might imitate the example of Jesus in your life. How might you bring wholeness to others?
If you’re wishing you had greater clarity about God’s callings in your life, you might want to consider our Road Ahead cohorts. You can learn more here.
Lord Jesus, I’m so glad Luke included this story in his Gospel. It is such a profound and moving account of your compassion and your commitment to wholeness.
Thank you, Lord, for not allowing the women to hide in the crowd. Though calling her out forced her to be vulnerable, it also allowed her to be made whole, not just physically, but also in relationship to her community.
Thank you, Jesus, for the ways you have brought wholeness to my life. Yet there is more to be done, as you know. So I ask you to heal me, to set me free from all that binds me, so that I might experience even more the wholeness of the age to come. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Best of Daily Reflections: Reaching Out to Jesus
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.