Yesterday we discussed Jesus and his miraculous healing of Jairus’s daughter. On the way to Jairus’s house, a woman in desperate need of a healing interrupted their journey. Today, we focus on that interrupted moment.
As Jesus walked with his disciples and Jairus through the crowd, he felt healing power being extracted from him. Turning around, he asked, “Who touched me?” Finally, a woman stepped forward, timid and afraid (Luke 8:47).
Unlike Jairus’s daughter, this woman was well into adulthood and had been bleeding for twelve years. This was more than an irregular menstrual cycle. Scholars suggest that this disease could have been endometriosis or even uterine cancer. We remember that number twelve, right? It’s the age of Jairus’s daughter. Luke doesn’t want us to miss this. This woman had been dealing with a disease for as long as Jairus’s daughter had been alive.
Because the symptoms of her disease included a continual discharge of blood, she was deemed ceremonially unclean and made anyone she touched unclean. This meant that she could not go into the temple or be around people at social events. For twelve years! What must life have looked like for this poor woman, who had to endure seclusion in a society where community was the cornerstone of the culture? It is scary to have to deal with a disease; it’s even more daunting to have to do it alone.
Notice the difference between Jairus’s family and this woman. Jairus was a leader of the synagogue, making him a man of status and perhaps one with an abundance of financial resources. This woman was a social outcast, and she was poor—she’d spent all of her money on doctors, hoping they would find a cure. She was as desperate as Jairus and reasoned that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’s garment, she would be healed. When Jairus came to Jesus, he knelt in front of him to get his attention. However, this bleeding woman initially came behind Jesus, planning to obtain her healing and then fade back into obscurity. Jesus had other plans.
“Who touched me?” he asked (Luke 8:45).
The woman, healed, came forward and confessed (v. 47). Obviously, Jesus knew who had touched him in that special way. Why would he make her come forward?
By bringing her to the public eye, he validated her healing, putting an end to her public embarrassment and shame. He also served as the ultimate witness that she was no longer ceremonially unclean. Remember that little tidbit that Luke gave us about Jairus? He wasn’t just any kind of leader—he was a leader of the synagogue. So Jesus declared her ceremonially clean in front of a religious leader. Coincidence? We know better.
The interconnected stories involving the bleeding woman and Jairus’s daughter show us that Jesus is concerned about all women, no matter what our age or station in life. He wants to lovingly heal us and restore us to himself first, and then restore us to fellowship with our communities.