Guest Writer Thomas DeWitt Talmage
“And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living on physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched” (Luke 8:43, 44).
There is nothing more unreasonable and ungovernable than a crowd of people. Men who, standing alone or in small groups are deliberate in all they do, lose their self-control when they stand in a crowd. We’ve all witnessed it: persons moving about in great excitement in some mass-meeting, shoving, jostling, and pulling at one another.
But while the Lord Jesus had been performing wonderful works, and He was en route to the house of Jairus, whose daughter lay dying, a great mob of people “thronged Him” (Luke 8:42), shoving this way and that. All this jostling evoked from Him no response.
After a while I see a wan and wasted woman pressing through the crowd. She seems to have an urgent errand. I can see from her countenance that she has been a great sufferer. She comes close enough to put her finger on the hem of His robe, and the very moment she puts her finger on that garment, Jesus says, “Who touched Me?” (8:45), showing His extreme sensitivity.
Often mighty men have little feeling; but, notwithstanding the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is the King of glory, having all power in heaven and on earth, as soon as this sick woman comes up and puts her finger on the hem of His garment, that moment His soul is aroused, and He asks, “Who touched Me?”
Peter and the other disciples, accompanying Him, say, “Master, the multitude throng You and press You, and You want to know who touched You?” (8:45).
No, this time is different. It isn’t the press of the crowd. It’s something else.
Jesus says, “Somebody touched Me. Virtue left My body” (8:46). What kind of God is this that He can discern, just by the feel of it, that this is no ordinary jostle?
The sick woman came covertly, assuming she’d be unnoticed, reached out her hand, and touched only the border of His garment; but when she sees that she has been found out, she comes trembling, fearing reprimand, and falling down before Him, declares before all the people why she touched Him, and how she has been healed (8:47). Jesus is not angry with her. “Daughter, be of good comfort: your faith has made you whole; go in peace” (8:48).
POVERTY TOUCHES HIM
The Bible says that this woman had spent all her money on physicians; she had not gotten her money’s worth. Physicians in those days knew less than we know now. Even the best of them, no doubt, working with the best information they had, were unable to affect real cures. Yet despite their inadequacies, they were often exorbitant in their demands. I can imagine, because some did, and do, they examined the capacity of the person to pay, and took the entire estate.
At any rate, this woman spoken of in the text had spent all her substance on physicians, and arguably poor physicians at that. The Lord saw her poverty and destitution. He knew from what a miserable situation she had come. He did not ask, “Who touched Me?” because He did not know—God knows everything—but because He wanted to evoke her response, and to put her on display before all that multitude, that the miracle might be made known, as an encouragement to faith.
In this day, as then, poverty evokes Christ’s attention. If we have a hard struggle to get daily bread—if the future is dark—if we are harassed and perplexed, and know not which way to turn, let us understand that, though in this world there may be no sympathy, the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ is immediately moved, and we have only to go to Him and touch Him with our need, and we arouse all the sympathy of His infinite nature.
SICKNESS TOUCHES HIM
This frail, unnamed woman had been an invalid for twelve years. How many sleepless nights, what loss of appetite, what nervousness, what unrest, what pain of body, the world knew not. But when she came up and put her finger on Christ’s garment, all her suffering touched the heart of God.
When we are cast down with something big like deadly cholera or yellow fever, we cry to God for pity; but in those smaller, chronic ailments of life, that continue from day to day, month to month and year to year, are we in the habit of going to Christ for sympathy? Is it in some fell disaster alone that we call to God for mercy, or is it in the little aches and pains of life that we implore Him? Let us not try to carry these burdens alone. These chronic diseases are the diseases that wear out and exhaust Christian grace, and we need to get a fresh supply. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15). Let us go to Him this night, if never before, with all our bodily ailments, and say: “Lord Jesus, look on my aches and pains. In this humble and importunate prayer let me touch You.”
BEREAVEMENT TOUCHES HIM
Perhaps there is not a single room in our house but reminds us of someone who has gone. We cannot look at a picture without thinking, She admired that. We cannot see a toy without remembering, She played with it. We cannot sit down and put our fingers on the piano without thinking, She used to handle this instrument. Everything that is beautiful in our home is suggestive of positive sadness.
Graves! graves! graves! It is the history of how many families tonight? We measure our life from tear to tear, from groan to groan, from anguish to anguish, and sometimes we feel that God has forsaken us, and we say, “Is His mercy clean gone forever? Will He be favorable no more?” (Psalm 77:8). Can it be, my afflicted friends, that we have been so foolish as to try to carry the burden alone, when there is an Almighty arm willing to be thrust under us?
Can it be that we have traveled that desert not willing to drink of the fountain that God opened at our feet? Oh, have we not realized the truth that Jesus is sympathetic with bereavement? Did He not mourn at the grave of Lazarus (John 11:33-35)? Will He not weep with all those who are mourning over the dead? He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15).
We may feel faint from our bereavements, and we may not know which way to turn, and all human solace may go for nothing; but if we would this night with our broken heart just go one step farther, pressing through all the crowd of our perplexities, anxieties, and sorrows, we might with one finger move His heart, and He, looking on us with infinite comfort and compassion, would say, “Who touched Me?”
OUR SINS TOUCH HIM
Generally, we make a mental record only of sins of action and volition; but where there is one sin of the action there are thousands of sins of thought. Let us remember that God puts down in His book all the iniquitous thoughts that have ever coursed through our mind. There they stand—the sins of 1820; the sins of 1825; the sins of 1831; the sins of 1835; the sins of 1840; the sins of 1846; the sins of 1850; the sins of 1853; the sins of 1859; the sins of 1860; the sins of 1865; the sins of 1870; the sins of 1874. Oh, I can’t think of it with any degree of composure! I should fly in terror did I not feel that those sins had been erased by the hand of my Lord Jesus Christ—that hand which was “wounded for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5).
The snow falls on the Alps flake by flake, and day after day, and month after month, and after a while, at the touch of a traveler’s foot, the avalanche slides down on the villages with terrific crash and thunder. So the sins of our life accumulate and pile up, and after a while, unless we are rescued by the grace of our Lord Jesus, they will come down on our soul in an avalanche of eternal ruin.
When we think of our sins, we are apt to think of those we have recently commited—those sins of the past day, or the past week, or the past year—those sins that have been in the far distance are all gone from our memory. We cannot recall a half-dozen of them to mind. But God remembers everyone of them. There is a record of them. They will be our overthrow unless we get them out of that book.
In the great Day of Judgement, God will call the roll, and our sins will all answer, “Here!” “Here!” “Here!”
Oh, how our sins have wounded Jesus! Did He not come into this world to save us? Have not these sins been commited against the heart and mercy of our Lord Jesus? Sins commited against us by an enemy we can stand, but by a friend, how hard it is to bear! Is not the Lord Jesus Christ “wounded in the house of His friends” (cf Zechariah 13:6)?
Since we stood up in the presence of the great congregation and attested our love for Christ, and said from this time we will serve the Lord, have we not all been unfaithful? Have we not “like sheep gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6), and there is “no soundness” in us “because of sin” (Psalm 38:3)? Oh, our sins touch Christ; they touch Him on the tenderest spot of His heart.
Let us bemoan this treatment of our best Friend. It seems to me Christ was never so lovely as He is now—the “chiefest among ten thousand” (Song 5:10) and the One “altogether lovely” (5:16). Can we not come and put our trust in Him? He is an infinite Savior. “Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). He can take all the iniquities of our life and cast them behind His back (Isaiah 38:17). “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:7)!
“And wherever He entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and sought Him that they might touch if it were but the border of His garment: and as many as touched Him were made whole” (Mark 6:56).
“And the whole multitude sought to touch Him: for there went virtue out of Him, and healed them all” (Luke 6:19).
Copyright © 2018 Alexandra Lee
*Adapted from “Who Touched Me?” Thomas DeWitt Talmage [1832-1902], Around the Tea-Table (New York: Bible House, 1895). Quotes, scriptural locations, photos, links, emendations added.