A Christian’s path to Christ is unique to each one. Christ can stop us in our tracks at any time and in any place, whether in a crowd of a thousand or in the quietness of our own bedroom. In the prior Three Women posts, we read about Christ’s encounter with a Debater and one who was Forced into His Presence. Both women had no intention of meeting their savior that day. However, the woman we conclude this series is one who is waiting in desperate pursuit for her healer, her savior on the shores of Galilee; we call her the Pursuer.
Jesus had just driven a legion of demons from a tomb-dweller into a herd of swine and was consequently kicked out of that region. He crossed the Sea of Galilee to continue his ministry. Crowds gathered at the water’s edge, including a respected Synagogue leader desperately awaiting his arrival. When Christ and his disciples made it to the shore, the leader immediately fell at his feet and begged for him to lay his hand on his dying daughter. Jesus agreed to go with him to his home. Another soul in the crowd was also waiting in desperate need.
The woman: “If I just touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Instantly her flow of blood ceased, and she sensed in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Christ: At once Jesus realized in himself that power had gone out from him. “Who touched my clothes?”
Disciples: “You see the crowd pressing against you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’”
The woman: With fear and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.
Christ: “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be healed from your affliction.”
The woman had been bleeding for 12 long years and in good faith, she had gone to many physicians to fix her affliction, and yet, they left her broke and broken. Her condition was not only getting worse but it kept her unclean by Jewish law.
The Jewish purity laws in Leviticus provided a “code for holy living” so that the Lord might abide with the Israelites and bless them (Leviticus CSB Study Bible). Laws of purity made it clear for Jewish women and their menstrual cycles that anyone and anything she touches during her cycle is unclean until evening. Ceremonially unclean people were barred access to the temple and fellowship with God’s congregation in worship (Tyndale NT Commentary p. 102). This woman’s affliction was not only a physical hardship but a social and religious one as well; she was desperate.
Once off the boat, Jesus was met by a thick crowd of people who were pressing up against him. How was it that the slight touch of his cloak set this woman apart from the rest of those pressing against him? Her unclean condition made her no different from anyone else’s impure spiritual condition.
Her faith and hope was in the mere touch of his hem, from behind. Could she not face Christ? Were crowds keeping her from facing him? Regardless, her condition was filled with shame, cultural stigma and perhaps left her physically weak; her ability to touch Christ’s hem might have been all she could muster in reaching out to him.
She also may have been filled with the burden of causing this holy man to be unclean by her touch. Christ’s power left him at her immediate touch…a divine moment quickly unfolding.
In silence, Christ healed this woman’s disease. But her pursuit of being healed came at a cost. Though she was privately healed, Jesus had her confess publicly her story to him, the whole truth which she shared with fear and trembling. It was the final hurdle for her faith to be made complete in Christ. He wanted her confession of faith.
Matthew Henry: We must not be ashamed to own the secret transactions between Christ and our souls; but, when called to it, mention to his praise, and the encouragement of others, what he had done for our souls, and the experience we have had of healing virtue derived from him. And the consideration of this, that nothing can be hid from Christ, should engage us to confess all to him.
Christ restored this woman’s dignity by calling her a family name, a name used when related by blood; he called her daughter. As we all know, ‘daughter’ is a term of precious and familial belonging; she was made daughter not by flesh and blood but by Spirit.
Though we may carry the heavy burden of shame within our affliction, there is no shame in pursuing Christ no matter how filthy our condition, how bad our sin, or how weak our faith. He wants to cleanse us, heal us by placing his righteousness on us that make us right before God. We cannot clean up our lives before we seek Christ for salvation or sanctification. He takes us just as we are.
The beauty is that Christ never shames us to the cross or the throne, but he does convict with the Holy Spirit. It is either our fleshly pride, false sense of worth, or the enemy of our soul who wants to keep us from freely going to the cross of salvation or keep us in hiding from the throne of grace and mercy for healing.
This woman’s pursuit of Christ is a beautiful reminder to us all. Can we pour out our whole story, confessing all before him? He is there, waiting and wanting each of us. It is the most beautiful place to be before our savior healed, whole and lavished by his grace and mercy.
Though most of us are familiar with the rest of the story, I cannot end without sharing about the Synagogue leader’s dying daughter. After Christ healed the woman, people had come from the leader’s home and said to him, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the teacher anymore?” Jesus pressed on with his mission. He walked to the home and heard the commotion inside. Bypassing the people who were wailing, Jesus went straight to the room where the girl lay. With the mom and dad by his side, he took the girl’s hand and said to her, “Little girl, I say to you, get up.”
Bible reference: Mark 5:35-41
“And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25
Next time: Inconvenienced
Eileen is the wife of a Delta pilot. Her blog series is entitled “Fine Lines in the Faith.” More about the author in her own words: “I’m a Sunday school grad. I’ve accepted Jesus in my heart more times than I can remember. I’ve worn masks well and God has stripped me of them, painfully. He has broken my spiritual legs and taught me how to walk again, painfully. Still learning to walk. The unknown is unsettling to me. This place is the start of a journey unknown to me. I don’t know who will visit here or who will stay, if these words will be criticized or will bless. But I welcome you here! My true hope is that this is the start of an act of obedience to God’s calling, a calling to write what He has entrusted to me. Join me in this journey to know Him more, love Him more and grow in our freedom by pursuing these fine lines in the faith.