Monday, July 2, 2012


She'd been bleeding for 12 years, this woman whose story we read in the Gospels. She'd spent all her money on doctors but no one could cure her. In fact, she'd only gotten worse. By now she is anemic and very weak. How much longer can she survive in this condition?

What kind of life could this woman have had? In her culture, a woman was considered "unclean" during her regular monthly cycle. According to Levitical law, she was unclean for seven days. Whoever touched her bed or anything she sat upon was instructed to wash their clothes and bathe, and that person would be considered unclean until evening. Twelve years of this condition would surly have driven away the people in her life. She could not have cooked for them, have cared for children, or been involved in the life of the community. Like a leper, she was unclean.

Sick, poor, isolated, despised. This was her life.

Then she hears that Jesus has come to town. She has just one thing on her mind -- to get to Jesus. She has heard that he is a healer; she believes that just to touch his clothes will bring her healing.

What courage it took for this woman to go out in public, to mingle with the masses seeking Jesus. Did people back off and make room for her, this woman they did not want to touch, or were they all so intent on seeing Jesus that they didn't even notice her?

She comes up behind Jesus and touches the hem of his cloak, and immediately she is healed. "Who touched my clothes?" he asks. In a crowd so large that it nearly crushes him, what a crazy question! The disciples try to tell him so, but he is determined to find the one for whom he has felt power go out from him.

"Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet" (Luke 8:47). After her many years of suffering, she likely expected to be chastised for exposing so many people to her own uncleanness. She told him her whole story, in front of everybody, and about her healing. Then Jesus did one of the most remarkable things I have read in the entire Bible.

He called her Daughter.

There is another daughter in this story as well. She is the 12-year-old child of Jairus, a leader in the synagogue, his only child, a well-loved girl in a respectable family. Her father seeks out Jesus as she lay dying. (Matthew tells us that she has just died.) He pleads with Jesus to come and put his hand on the girl so she will live. And it is on the way to Jairus' house that Jesus is interrupted by our unclean woman of courage.

We're tempted to tell the woman to go away, like the people said to the blind beggar who called out to Jesus or the disciples did to the mothers who brought their children to him. Don't bother Jesus; he has more important people to care for. Go away now! Shoo! Shoo!

But nobody sees her coming or realizes that she thinks she has the right to touch him. And before you know it, an unworthy has entered their presence, making a scene and exposing them to something they don't want to deal with.

Did Jesus love the little girl from the good home more than he loved this outcast? Was Jairus' cry for help more convincing than this woman's? Is he obligated to act according to our time table -- come quickly, she's dying! -- no interruptions allowed?

Here we see Jesus, compassionate, life-giving Jesus, healing the heart as well as the body of a woman drained of life. We see Jesus in tune with the needs around him. We see Jesus making the calls, not letting other people dictate how he should work. We see Jesus, demonstrating his power and putting things to rights.

This is the same Jesus who loves the widows of Burundi.  And Jesus calls them Daughter!

(Matthew 18-34; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56)


barefootmommy said...

This spoke to me in a different way thank kind of goes off on a tangent from what you're getting at. It taught me something about my relationship with my husband. I have been frustrated about having to submit and told him recently that I sometimes feel like I'm his daughter and not his wife.

But maybe sometimes that's what Jesus wants our husbands to do for us: to care for us as Jesus did the for the people who trusted and followed him. Maybe sometimes it's not according to our wishes or timeline, but in the end, it is perfectly aligned with God's will.

Edward Raj said...

Ginger said...

Raj, thank you for your link. I love to hear songs from our brothers and sisters around the world, and I really appreciate hearing this song based on a story from the scripture that I love. God bless you and the work He has called you to.