There’s an interesting story in Mark 5:
25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, "If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well."
29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My clothes?"
I rather love the fact that this woman was healed. I love that she was healed by her faith, and that her faith was focused by her words and activated by touching Jesus. I love that she immediately knew that the condition she’d lived with for twelve years was instantly healed. All that is well and good.
I’ve been reflecting on a single concept, quite apart from all that glorious stuff: Jesus knew that power had gone out of Him.
That’s an interesting thought, or rather, an interesting group of thoughts, for it says several things:
1. Power (greek dunamis) had been transferred.
2. The transfer was out of Jesus.
3. The transfer of power was discernable.
4. The transfer was a surprise to Jesus, or at least a mystery.
Jesus was walking along in the midst of a crowd of people (v31), minding his own business, and suddenly he knew (or “perceived”: epiginosko) that power had gone out of him. It’s interesting that the Lord didn’t say “power has come from God and gone through me.” He said, “out of me.” Strongs describes the language as “a primary preposition denoting origin.” It means “out of.”
His behavior (“Who touched my clothes?”) suggests that he didn’t even know where it went, though that may just have been an invitation for the woman to declare herself. It is was simultaneously acknowledging both ignorance (“Who did it?”) and familiarity (“This happened through touching my clothes.”). I wonder if it had happened before in one of the untold stories of Jesus.
Power (dunamis) is always an interesting subject. Here it manifested as an instantaneous physical healing. Other places it manifests as deliverance, and it was the stuff that came upon Mary that made her pregnant with Jesus. I tend to look on power as the energy from Heaven that accomplishes the work of Heaven on Earth.
It seems to me that if Jesus could have power drawn out of himself when he was not expecting it, then is it not possible that you and I could have power drawn out of us when we weren’t expecting it. Have you ever known people that are so hungry for more of God that it’s nearly impossible not to prophesy over them? Or people that so desperately need a father that it’s difficult not to father them? Or a new believer that is so eager to grow that you find yourself talking about the ways of God while they listen with rapt attention? Or have you ever been those people? I know I have.
Or even when we are expecting it, when we impart something of God into the lives of someone else, power is spent. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:20 that the
of kingdom is ‘not in
word but in power’: in other words, power is what this kingdom is about. Our
job is to handle power, to dispense power, so that there is more God-like stuff
and less stealing, killing and destroying stuff when we’re done. I must walk in power! God
Here’s where these thoughts have taken me: if this woman was able to draw power out of Jesus, and people are able to draw power out of me, then where does that power come from, and what happens to me when the power is gone? If doing the stuff of the kingdom spends power, then what happens when the power is spent?
I can see three options here, and I’m not sure I like the implications of some of them.
Option One: Hoard. We don’t spend power; we keep it ourselves. I’ve seen people who don’t seem to spend any power, for whatever reason. Whether they’re hoarding it, or whether they just don’t have any, they don’t spend power: people’s lives are not changed; healings (physical, emotional…) just don’t happen. I’ve been concerned lest I find myself here.
Option Two: Powerlessness. When the power is all spent, then it’s gone, and we’re done; we’re out of business. When we’re out of power, we find ourselves in option one: we got nuthin to give.
Option Three: Reload. We go get more power. Once we have spent what we have, we go back and get more.
There are only a couple of places where the New Testament talks about power on the increase.
· After his temptation in the wilderness, “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to
· The disciples were encouraged, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me” (Acts 1:8)
· God told Paul in his weakness, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect (teleióo: accomplished, completed) in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
It’s easy to fall back on lazy theology and say, “Well, it’s God’s power, so it must come from him!” TBI: That’s True But Irrelevant: it doesn’t answer the real question; it just throws religious vocabulary at it. Let’s dig a little deeper: what does the Book say about how to increase the amount of God’s power in us and available for use? Let’s make some observations from these few verses:
1) Power comes from the Holy Spirit: it comes from relationship with God that lets Him be in charge.
2) Power is connected to my being a witness to Jesus (note that “witness” is something that I am to be, not something I do.)
3) I receive His power. It comes to me. I’m not just a mindless tool in this process; I’m a participant in it. One could say that it’s His power, but I wield it.
4) Power is an expression of God’s grace: the free stuff God gives for accomplishing His will on earth.
5) His power shows up best or most when my weakness is evident.
Some of the appropriate conclusions here are easy: if I want to have the power of God working in my life & ministry, I need to be in a very fresh relationship with Holy Spirit and I need to live a life that is a witness to Jesus.
I sometimes hear sermons about the power of God. I don’t often hear it preached that the purpose for the power of God is to accomplish that thing that we pray mindlessly in unison in thousands of churches: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” It’s not for me. It’s for Him, for His will – though His will includes me.
Another conclusion that I haven’t often heard taught is that one of the best ways to lay hold of the power of God is to practice weakness.
One of my mentors was a man who, for nearly 30 years now, has worked at nearly minimum wage as a part-time teacher in a child care center. His shift starts at in the morning, but he’s usually there a couple of hours early to pray for each staff member, each child, each classroom. I suppose it wouldn’t be surprising that he has changed the lives of hundreds of fellow teachers and thousands (more likely tens of thousands) of kids. Wherever he goes, there is peace, there is perspective, there is wisdom. Wherever he goes, fear flees, hopelessness gives up, love thrives.
I have another friend who has lived surreptitiously as a client in a recovery house. Officially, she’s there to clean up her life. In point of fact, she pastors the other women in the house. She’s chosen a life of weakness, of brokenness, and as a result, her life is full of miracles, to the point that the women there regularly ask her why she has so many miracles.
My personal application for this is a change of my own perspective (as good a definition for ‘repentance’ as any). As an American, I’ve been taught to seek my own will, my own good, my own strength. As an American Christian, I’ve been taught to use my own will, my good standing, my strength to help “those less fortunate.”
Rather, I hear here to abandon those goals entirely: instead, seek the lowest places, the places that make room for others to be esteemed, not abandoning what’s good for me (certainly not persecuting myself!), but making room for weakness in myself – and not hiding it. In those places, I can expect the power of God to work for His purposes.