When you study the lives of New Testament people, there is an obvious connection
between faith and courage. We do not read of cowardly people being people of
great faith in the Lord. People controlled by terror lost their strength to
Jesus often told his followers, "Fear not," "Be of good courage," or, "Do not be
afraid." There is an excellent reason for such instructions from Jesus. People
controlled by terror are void of courage. People who have no courage have lost
the ability to act by faith.
We need to carefully, properly understand the relationship between faith and
courage. On occasions, people of faith in the New Testament were also afraid.
The fact that people of faith have fears or know fear is not the issue. Faith is
demonstrated in their courage (1) to face their fear and (2) to refuse to be
controlled by their fear.
Being a person of courage does not mean being a person of exaggerated
self-confidence with a huge ego. It does not mean one is a person who loves to
talk about "my" accomplishments, "my" abilities, and "my" boldness. If that is a
person's concept of courage, the person has a significantly flawed concept. The
shy, the quiet, the unassuming, the disadvantaged, and the abused are capable of
great courage and great faith. Courage that allows faith to exist is the courage
to trust God when confronting real threats.
Great courage is not found in enormous trust in self. Great courage is found in
trusting God when the forces around you declare, "If you trust God, you will
have increased trouble!" In a real way, our faith is not demonstrated until we
are in a situation that tests the courage of our conviction.
I want us to study an incident in a woman's life who provides us an excellent
example of the relationship between courage and faith. Consider Mark 5:25-34
Do you have the courage to have faith? Do you use faith to express your courage?
- The background of the passage:
- In Mark's writing, this incident occurred after Jesus crossed the sea of Galilee
to the land of the Gerasenes.
- There he healed a demon-possessed man who had been uncontrollable.
- The demons, by request, entered a herd of pigs that ran down into the sea and
- The people, controlled by fear, asked Jesus to leave their country.
- Jesus crossed the sea and returned to Galilee.
- Upon return, Jesus encountered a multitude and Jarius, a ruler of a synagogue.
- Jarius begged Jesus to help his daughter who was about to die.
- Jesus was on his way to Jarius' home when this incident happened.
- Mark said the multitude was thronging Jesus--pressing him on every side.
- The woman in the incident had a long-standing medical problem.
- For 12 years she endured a slow hemorrhage that would not stop and could not be
- Twelve years is a long time to be sick!
- We know nothing else about the woman--who she was, where she came from, or who
her family was.
- First, note she was a truly unusual woman.
- She was unusual because she was determined to find a cure for her
ailment--though it has been 12 years, she had not stopped trying.
- Mark indicates she went to many doctors and suffered a lot as a result of the
treatments she received.
- He also states she spent everything she had on those visits and treatments.
- However, nothing permanently stopped her hemorrhage.
- Even today it would be unusual to find a person with such determination--most
would just accept the condition as "incurable."
- By our standards, her treatments were primitive and limited.
- When treatment resulted in pain rather than relief, she did not have our pain
killers to address her suffering.
- Most would accept her condition as an unfortunate fact of life that one just had
to accept and live with.
- Her persistence indicates she was an unusual person.
- She was unusual because she was open to hope after 12 years of failures.
- After repeated failure and being broke, it would be easy to give up.
- It would be easy to become a pessimist.
- "Don't get my hopes up again!"
- "I have no desire to get excited again only to be disappointed!"
- She heard [not saw!] about Jesus' miracles, was impressed by the reports, and
decided to find Jesus.
- Wonder how many times she "heard" about a new doctor who could do wonders?
- Just on the basis of what she heard, she decided to find Jesus [no small task!]
- Seeing Jesus was not like making an appointment with a doctor.
- He continually moved from place to place.
- She, broke, would have to guess and wait.
- Not even the fact that a multitude waited for him to come discouraged her!
- She was unusual because she was bold, but unassuming.
- She was confident that if she just touched him she would be okay!
- That is an unusual confidence for a woman who saw so many doctors!
- A touch instead of a treatment?
- Her plan to touch Jesus was a decision of real courage!
- She lived in truly "a man's world."
- Publicly, women had virtually no status at all.
- Women could not even speak to men [who were not their husbands] in public.
- For a woman to speak to a man in public was a serious matter!
- If her act of touching Jesus was noticed by someone in the throng of people, the
least she could expect from the crowd was a strong rebuke, and Jesus' reaction
was an absolute unknown.
- This situation gives insight into why she planned to touch his garment and fade
- She was definitely determined!
- It was no simple task for her to get close enough to Jesus to touch him.
- Have you tried to work your way through a moving mass of pressing, pushing
people who had the same goal you had--to get near the same person?
- She did it the hard way--she worked herself close to him from behind; she did
not try to position herself when he passed by!
- Wonder how long and how hard she, sick, had to exert herself to get close to
- She was also unassuming,
- She did not ask for help.
- She made no demands.
- She has no desire to call attention to herself or her condition.
- She did not want anyone to know what she did.
- She just wanted help with her need.
- Because of these qualities, she succeeded.
- She would not have been healed without her determination, courage, attitude,
motive, and faith.
- If she had not had those qualities, she would have lived as a sick woman until
- She refused to say:
- "He probably cannot help me either!"
- "I will never make it through that crowd!"
- "If I am discovered, there is no telling what will happen to me!"
- So she persisted until she got close enough to Jesus to touch him.
- She touched him with faith.
- As a result, she was healed instantly.
- She felt the healing happen when she touched him.
- The second thing you should notice is Jesus' reaction.
- Jesus was immediately aware that someone drew from his power.
- He knew it the moment it happened.
- He asked, "Who touched my robe?"
- Can you imagine how that question sounded to everyone around him?
- As Jesus passed, everyone touched him just to tell others they did.
- Think of how often the curious touched Jesus.
- Imagine the response to his question: "Are you kidding? Everyone is touching you!"
- The disciples voiced what a foolish question he asked--they were respectful, but
they thought it was a ridiculous question.
- "Lord, look at the multitude."
- "The whole multitude is pressing against you!"
- "You see what is happening--so why ask, 'Who touched me?'"
- Jesus then looked for the person who touched him.
- The woman had been careful and discreet in what she did--no one said, "She did
- The trembling, scared woman acknowledged what she did.
- The Jesus who healed her would surely know she was the person!
- Knowing how men felt about women, she had reason to be afraid.
- Knowing that she used Jesus' power without asking his permission, she had reason
to be afraid.
- She knew what she did.
- She knew Jesus knew what she did.
- She knew his power was real.
- In fear, she fell in front of him and told him the entire truth (do you not
image when Jesus asked, "Who touched me?" that those near him backed off as if
to say, "Not me!"
- Jesus' response must have amazed her!
- "Your faith healed you--your faith allowed this to happen."
- "Go in peace"--what comforting words!
- "Be cured!"
- I wonder at the moment she fell before him that she had the awful fear that the
disease would come back.
- How awful to know you found the cure after 12 years of searching, felt the
relief instantly, and had the disease return.
- Consider two observations.
- There was an incredible difference in touching Jesus with faith and just
- Many people touched Jesus that day.
- Many were touching Jesus when the miracle occurred.
- However, they did not expect anything to happen.
- Nothing happened.
- The woman touched Jesus for a reason with confidence.
- She wanted to be helped.
- She expected to be helped.
- She was helped.
- The physical act of touching Jesus was the same for everyone.
- The power was present in Jesus when all touched him.
- The difference in the result was the difference in the people.
- That same difference is distinguishable today.
- Some study the word and are changed; some read the word and nothing happens.
- Some pray and are strengthened; some pray and are not helped.
- Some worship and are closer to God; some worship and are bored and unmoved.
- What is the difference?
- The physical process is the same.
- The power is there.
- The difference--the faith [confidence] of the person.
- The Lord's power will not benefit a person unless the person has confidence in
the Lord's power.
- I must be careful not to make the wrong application.
- Jesus did not confine his miracles to believers.
- At times he healed people who did not know who he was (consider John 9:35,36).
- Obviously, the dead bodies Jesus raised did not have faith--it was a
manifestation of Jesus' power over death.
- At times, Jesus informed people that their faith allowed Jesus' power to work in
- Jesus blessed the ignorant or unknowing on occasion, but Jesus did not bless the
- For the person who asked Jesus to help him/her, it was essential for him/her to
- There is no question that Jesus can help us in ways he has promised.
- The power is there.
- The question is do we have the confidence to let Jesus help us?