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?
This has been the reading I have dreaded, although I have read it and thought about it a thousand times. In the modern world I am that bleeding woman, and sometimes it seems as if there is never going to be an end. I remind myself often that He is GOD and I am not, and everything is in His time, not mine. To some my life would seem unlivable, I was sexually abused as a child and teenager, my 2nd child/1st daughter(Madison) died at birth in 1999 and since 2005 I have been dealing with medical issues so rare and hard to treat that for most doctors I am the first one they have ever seen to have gone through all of this. I know in my heart that Madison’s death taught me to be most grateful that my illness and medical issues are mine and not one of my living children. I know I can keep going when I simply remember that I have already survived the worst life has to offer, the death a your child. Nothing can ever compare or come close to that pain, so in some very wierd way her loss has kept me going through my own issues. When you know you have already survived the worse, there really isn’t much left to do but keep going. One day He and I will have a long talk and my list of questions is very very long, but for now I am grateful for every day I am here and every day that He continues to provide me with hope and wisdom.
I am the most hesitant when I know I’ve sinned; sometimes I have this fearful thought: what if I’ve gone too far and God is just tired of forgiving me? I know that’s not true as illustrated in Luke 15:11-32, God rejoices in his children returning to him and asking for repentance.
This story encourages me to remember that God restores us; he heals our physical ailments AND recognizes that there is emotional damage, societal damage that has taken place and needs restoring too. I have struggled with this A LOT because I had family situations that affected me negatively and that affected how I interacted with the world. For example, I would often find myself struggling to want to reach outside of my inner circle for fear or being hurt like I was hurt in my family. I was scared to face people who I believed judged me for what I went through and would think less of me if they knew what was really going on (like people in my church); I realize now that was my broken mind and heart that projected that onto others. God has restored me and continues to renew my mind in this area. I can now step into new situations.and feel more confident in my ability to set boundaries in my hurt and not fall victim to the hurt I experienced in my family. To trust again really was a result of Gods restoration and my decision to trust God (much like the bleeding woman) in crucial moment of desperation. Praise God for that!
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