If you read today’s passage from the vantage point of a first-century Jew, it borders on scandalous. For starters, women knew their place in society—a distant second to men. For a woman to touch an important man like Jesus, she risked bringing ridicule and scrutiny upon herself in such a patriarchal and conservative society. Furthermore, due to her hemorrhaging, this woman might as well wear a huge scarlet “U” on her clothes signifying her uncleanliness. Her blood meant she would need to separate herself from friends and family, and anyone she touched would also need to take the necessary steps to restore their cleanliness according to Old Testament Law. A first-century reader would have gasped when she read that this unclean woman touched the Jewish Rabbi Jesus. What happens next, though, would have been even more shocking.
Power to Heal
Throughout history uncleanliness flowed in one direction: from the afflicted outward. Jesus, exercising His authority over the uncleanliness, reverses the flow. You don’t make Jesus unclean when you touch Him; He makes you clean. Jesus’ power fully restores this woman to health, and in that exact moment she might have felt as if she received all she ever desired. Sneaking up behind Jesus, barely touching the hem of His clothes, and softly repeating to herself, “If I touch even His garments… ” this woman wanted healing and to remain anonymous. Jesus, though, cares for more than just our physical bodies. Recognizing this woman needs not only physical healing but also emotional and societal restoration, He brings her out of the shadows and into the light.
This nameless woman trembles in front of the Messiah not knowing why He would draw attention to her. Would He rebuke her for touching Him while she was unclean Would He accuse her of impropriety because a woman must not touch a man? Would He get angry because she took some of His power? All her fears melt when the Savior draws near and calls her “Daughter” in front of everyone. Daughter. Not woman, not unclean, not sinner. Jesus publicly removes the giant “U” from this woman by declaring that her faith has made her well and that she has a seat at the table in God’s family. Moments before, this woman’s blood relegated her to the fringes of society; now Jesus has brought her inside to His family and let all who would hear know about it. What kind of Messiah loves the outsiders?
Drawing Near Boldly
Scripture tells us that Jesus invites us to boldly draw near to Him. Yet many of us come to Jesus like this woman—hesitant, fearful, and unsure. We know intellectually that Jesus loves us, but our gut-level response tells us another story. We think God is disappointed in us or not pleased with us. Our coming to Him must feel like an intrusion instead of a welcomed interruption. Let this story remind you that even at your most unclean, Jesus wants to restore you. He constantly welcomes you into His family and calls us daughters too.
When are you most hesitant to draw near to Jesus? How can this story encourage you to grab ahold of Jesus knowing He will welcome it every time?
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