How important is the sense of touch? We spent a good portion of 2020 tucked away in our homes, afraid to get near other people for fear we’d contract or spread Covid. Do you remember the feeling when you finally took that bold step and touched a loved one’s hand or embraced them in a hug? Today we look at a women who wasn’t supposed to get near other people, and she certainly wasn’t supposed to touch them, but she did, and oh, the difference it made.
Last week I said we’d be covering Mary Magdelene, but then I realized that the bulk of her story takes place at the resurrection. So we will push her back and continue in our chronological coverage, looking today at the Bleeding Woman.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke each tell the story of the woman who’d had an issue of blood for twelve years.
Like the Widow of Nain, the Bleeding Woman was a bonus healing. Each happened when Jesus was on His way to heal someone else. In this case, Jairus, a synagogue leader, approached Jesus to lay His hands on Jairus’ daughter who was at the hands of death.
Jesus followed Jairus to his home, and along the way, a great multitude followed and thronged Him. In that crowd was a woman who’d been bleeding for twelve years. She’d spent all her money on doctors and cures, but rather than healing her, they’d left her broke and in worse condition.
The unnamed woman heard about Jesus and reasoned that if she could just get close enough to Jesus to touch his clothes, that she could be healed. So that’s what she did. She made her way through the masses, and when she got near, she reached out and touched the tassel on his cloak.
And just as she thought, immediately, her blood dried up and she sensed that she’d been healed. Jesus sensed it, too.
In the midst of the chaos and confusion of the crowd, Jesus stopped and turned around.
“Who touched My clothes?”
Everyone stopped, wondering what He was talking about. His disciples pointed out the multitude surrounding Him. Anyone could have touched Him.
But He knew the difference. With fear and trembling, the Bleeding Woman stepped forward and fell at His feet, revealing the full story of what had happened. And with love and compassion, Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”
The Rest of the Story
It’s a sweet story we’ve all heard. But when we understand the full cultural and spiritual implications, we see what a truly amazing story it is.
First, the religion and culture of Jesus’ time consisted of hundred of laws, many of which dealt with being clean and unclean. Blood was taboo. Women during their menstrual cycle were forced into seclusion as contact with a man would deem the man unclean. After their cycle or after childbirth, women underwent a special cleansing process before they were allowed to mingle again into society.
Because this woman had bled for twelve years, she’d not been able to go through the cleansing. Thus, she was deemed unclean and as a result, a social outcast.
To make matters worse, this woman had spent everything she had on doctors, but instead of helping, they’d made it worse. Not only was she an outcast, but she was destitute and desperate.
A woman in her condition should not have been in a crowd of people. She was supposed to steer clear of others so that she wouldn’t contaminate them with her uncleanliness. She surely shouldn’t touch a rabbi, and yet, she ignored the rules and came to Jesus anyway.
Better still, Jesus ignored the rules. He was more concerned with her faith rather than the legalistic abiding of the law. He saw her heart, and He healed her.
One thing that’s interesting to note about this particular woman and her miracle, is the way she approached Jesus. Wherever He went, He was bombarded by the sick and afflicted, begging for His healing mercy. But this woman never did that. Instead, she found the most inconspicuous manner possible to be healed by Jesus. She didn’t want to bother Him. She didn’t want to call attention to herself. She didn’t wait for Him to notice her. Instead, she sought Him out, then quietly reached out to the tassel on the hem of his cloak.
I’m sure she assumed that since it was merely His clothes, and not His body, that He’d never notice. But that kind of faith does not go unnoticed.
Imagine her fear when He called her out. How could she come forward and confess that she, an unclean woman, had infiltrated the crowd and gone so far as to touch the Master?
But Jesus pushed her to not only reach out in faith, but to proclaim her faith. And that, she did. I can only imagine a collective gasp from the crowd when they heard her story, but none of the gospel writers record that. Instead, they point out Jesus’ gentle response to the woman.
Daughter, He calls her. What a precious word, followed by His confirmation that she was truly healed.
Is this one of those stories that resonates with you? Do you ever feel like an outcast, rejected by others, taken advantage of by those who were supposed to be helping you? If so, what a blessing it is to see how Jesus loved this dear woman.
Jesus didn’t see her unleanliness. He saw her purity of heart. He didn’t condemn. He confirmed. He didn’t blame. He encouraged.
He will do the same for you.
It may be that you’re waiting for Jesus to seek you out. You’re sitting in your comfort zone praying that He will come and heal you.
But what if He wants you to seek after Him? What if He wants you to reach out and touch Him? Are you willing to do that?
It’s so easy to sit and wait, reasoning that if He truly cared, He’d come to you. But what if He is waiting for you to take the first step?
Had the Bleeding Woman waited, she would have missed out. Jesus would have gone on His way to Jairus’ house and the bleeding woman would have remained afflicted.
My dear friend, please don’t miss out on the blessings that He has in store for you. Yes, it’s scary to step out. But our God is a loving God. He only wants what is best for you. Imagine going to Him and hearing him say that your faith has made you well, that you are healed from what afflicted you.
Lord God, so many women listening today are hurting. For some, it’s an obvious ailment. For others, like the bleeding woman, it may be internal, something that’s not obvious to the rest of the world. Regardless of what we’re suffering from, You know all about it, and You have the power to heal us from all that ails us. Be with each hurting woman. Give her the courage to take that first step towards You. Let her know that You see her, that she’s not alone, and that You love her even though the rest of the world may have rejected her. Wrap Your arms around her and fill her with Your lovingkindness. We love You. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week when we continue the story with the healing of Jairus’ daughter.
Her Story: Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-46
Bible Study Review
- Where did the Bleeding Woman meet Jesus?
- Why did she grab his tassle instead of talking to Him directly?
- What was His response to her?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Was Jesus concerned that an unclean woman touched Him?
- Why did He ask who touched Him when He knew the answer?
- How might the crowd have felt about the woman and her healing?
- Have you ever felt like an outcast?
- Are you willing to step out in faith in order to reach Jesus?
- How are you like/unlike this woman?
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