I love reading the Bible, and especially the Gospels. My favorite people as recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the ones who barely get noticed, who are never identified by name, and who only merit a couple of verses. I believe they best represent the ones Jesus said He came to seek and save. I came across one of them in my daily reading lately.
Her story is what is sometimes called a parenthetical one, as in having parentheses placed around it because it shows up in the middle of another story. The other story is that of Jairus, an official of the local synagogue. He comes to Jesus, begging that He come to Jairus’ house and heal his young daughter. Jesus, his disciples, and a large crowd head off to the house.
Somewhere in the middle of the crowd is a woman. We are told she had a bleeding disorder she had been suffering from for twelve years. She’d spent all of her money on doctors, but her condition only worsened. She had heard about Jesus and decided He could be her answer. She thought to herself, “If only I touch the hem of His garment I can be made well.” Well, she did, and she was.
I don’t know why she chose the approach she did, and the Bible gives no clues. It’s possible to speculate about what prompted her to approach Jesus by stealth. If her problem was menstrual bleeding that wouldn’t stop, she would have been considered unclean, which would have prevented her from approaching anyone, much less the Son of God. Regardless, her problem could have been embarrassing. Or perhaps it was because Jesus was busy dealing with an important person in the community, and she felt her problem didn’t warrant interrupting the proceedings. Maybe she didn’t want to risk the wrath of the crowd (‘who does she think SHE is?’). Or, more likely, the hem of His garment was all she could reach because of the crowd. But she knew it would be enough.
Whatever her motivation, Jesus refuses to leave it there. He stops the crowd and asks, “Who touched me?” The disciples’ response is one of bewilderment. “Lord, are you kidding? Look at this crowd! And you’re asking who touched you”? But Jesus had a deeper understanding and purpose. The woman, knowing she was caught, fearfully comes forward and confesses what happened. She’s afraid she’s about to be scolded, chastised, or worse, the miracle will be rescinded. But then comes the beautiful part of the story. Rather than condemn her, Jesus honors her for her faith, affirms her healing and salvation, and tells her, “Go in peace.”
I love this story and this woman, because she is so much us. How many times do we have a problem, a need, but we hesitate to take it to the One who can fix the problem and meet the need. We have a dozen excuses. “I’m not worthy/good enough/don’t have enough faith for God to love me.” “God is too busy with others to care about me.” “I shouldn’t waste His time with little problems.” But we know in our heart that if we could just have a little of God’s time and power that everything would be fine. So we think we have to ‘sneak up on God’, asking for one small favor as though it were the worst imposition in the world.
Jesus’ message to the woman is the same He gives to us. If you have enough faith in Him to think He can heal you, then you have enough faith. And while He will deal with the problem that troubles you, He wants to give you so much more. Jesus wants to fix your heart, fix your soul, and give you peace. He wants you as one of His own because then you can know real joy, real contentment, and real peace. You can experience what Jesus called “abundant life”, life that is lived with Jesus walking by your side. That’s true healing.