Every One an Individual (June 2016)

One of my all-time favourite passages in the Bible is in the second half of Mark’s Gospel chapter five.  Typically for this Gospel writer, two incidents are woven together:  the healing of a little girl, Jairus’ daughter, is sandwiched between the account of the healing of the haemorrhaging woman.  The fact the woman has been unwell for the same length of time as the girl has been alive, 12 years, is part of the beautiful parallel in this account.

In amongst the description of the haemorrhaging woman reaching out in the crowd, to just touch Jesus’ clothes with the tip of her fingers, comes an interesting conversation between Jesus and his disciples.  Because the smallest touch immediately brought healing to this woman, healing of an intractable condition which an endless round of doctors had been unable to help with.  And Jesus was also instantly aware that power had gone out from him to cause this healing.  So he said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’  His disciples stated the obvious, that there was a huge crowd pressing round him, so hundreds of people may have touched Jesus’ clothes.  But only one had touched with faith and received healing.  Jesus knew it and the woman knew it, and so she admitted it was her, and he said ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well.’  (Mark 5.34)  The disciples had looked at the crowd.  Jesus looks at the individual.

In my view, the church can become far too bothered about numbers.  We are asked to count numbers in our congregations.  But Jesus doesn’t look at how big the crowd is.  He is bothered about one individual.  And in this example, He was bothered about a woman who didn’t count.  She was an outcast.  She had been shunned by society.  Her condition meant she could not mix with normal society.  With faith, she reached out and touched, the smallest and most tentative touch.  Such a beautiful picture of prayer – our prayers may be tentative, but what matters is if we reach out to touch Jesus with our prayer.

And through that she had a meaningful – life-transforming – encounter with Jesus.

We do not know if there was anyone else in that crowd whose meeting with Jesus had the same impact.  But for her, Jesus certainly turned things around completely.  Not only was there the relief of being cured of her awful condition.  But also, now there was no reason for her to be outcast. Now she could earn money to keep herself.  Now she could be seen with other people.

No matter whether or not large numbers of people were transformed by Jesus that day.  What does matter is that one.  And each one is what matters to Him.  Each one of us.  Each one in a crowd.

Let us be a church which is bothered about people one by one.  Let us focus our attention on one individual having a meaningful encounter with Jesus.  One person meeting with the Lord, and placing Him as Lord of their life.  Let us value the one, so much more than working with crowds.

Revd Tina Upton



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