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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Woman Jesus Called Daughter, Part 1, A Beautiful Mystery

Today we have a guest writer--my sister, Shannon, who is currently studying to be an electrical engineer (I had to brag on her a bit).  This Bible study was originally shared on Facebook, as a result of some of her personal reading about the healing of the woman with the issue of blood (Matthew 9: 20-22; Luke 8: 42-48).  I asked her if it would be okay if I shared it here, and she agreed.  She also requested that I somehow include a comment I left on that Facebook note, so I have copied it, with revisions for brevity, and set it apart in italics.

So, without further ado, here is the devotional that my sister shared.  Hope you enjoy it!  Feel free to leave comments, and if you want, you can address her rather than me (I'll let her know).

A Beautiful Mystery

 As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
"Who touched me?" Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you."
But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me." 
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."--Luke 8:42-48

God made this passage stand out to me a few weeks ago, and He just won’t leave me alone about it.  I’ve heard or read the story many times, but this time the meaning was fresh and new.  God’s word is a well so deep that I can always keep drawing from it and never reach the bottom!  When I found myself in tears over these six verses for the second night in a row, I knew I had to share what Jesus has been showing me.

God’s Timing

First, the setup.   Jesus was in the middle of performing another miracle!  He was on His way to the home of Jairus, the synagogue leader, to heal the man’s daughter (Luke 8: 41, 42).  Presumably Jairus and the disciples were in a hurry to reach the house before she died, and from a human point of view, certainly Jairus should have been given precedence over this lowly woman—but God’s timing isn’t like ours.   Jesus knew that He would take the time for this poor woman as well, because raising the little girl from the dead was not too hard for Him, and would build more faith than just a healing in those who saw it.

Faith

Jesus was moving through a crowd that “almost crushed Him.”  The whole town had come out to see what He would do—either out of curiosity or hope for their own healing.   As Peter pointed out, dozens of people were pressing in around Him as He passed by.  What made this one woman believe that just touching the dusty hem of His robe would heal her (Mark 5:28)?  This was the first recorded instance of anyone being healed in this way.  Many asked Jesus to touch them and were healed by His hands (Luke 4:40), but who else had this kind of faith?  It’s humbling to ask myself…am I just one of the curious crowd, or will I reach out to Him in faith when I need healing?

Unclean

According to the Law, the “issue of blood” made the woman, and anything she touched, unclean (Leviticus 15: 25-30).  Originally, the unclean could not live inside the camp (Leviticus 13: 45, 46); and later could not enter the temple (2 Chronicles 23: 18, 19).  She was used to being shunned, and had been unable to participate in the temple festivals and sacrifices for twelve long years.  “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse” (Mark 5:26).  Maybe she approached Jesus in the way she did because she felt unworthy to ask His attention, but she was about to receive it anyway.

A Beautiful Mystery

“She came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering,” (Mark 5: 27-29 NIV).

This miracle went against everything the Israelites had been taught.  A touch like this was supposed to make the clean things unclean.  Any other man would have been considered ceremonially unclean until sundown because of the brush of her hand (Leviticus 15: 27).  But instead Jesus’ power flowed through her fingers and cleansed her, while He remained clean!  This was no ordinary prophet.   How could His holiness cover sin and shame?  It’s still a beautiful mystery to me.

Facebook comment from Rachel: I think can help a bit on that question, based on a radio sermon I heard one afternoon on a drive to my college campus.  She believed so firmly that touching the hem of Jesus' robe would heal her because of an ancient Jewish tradition, and another verse in the Bible.  In Numbers 15: 37-39, the Israelites were instructed to put tassels on the hems of their garments.  Each tassel must include a blue thread (blue was the symbol of God's divinity and majesty). The tassels were to help them, "remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes," (v. 39).  The tassels were to remind them of God's holiness and His commands to them about holiness!

As you pointed out, she was not considered pure or holy by the people because of her issue of blood, so symbolically, she was asking Jesus to make her holy.  This shows that she not only believed that Jesus was sent by God and made holy by Him, but also that she believed He was God, and had the power to fulfill her request.

Now, the word for the hem of the garment in Hebrew is often also translated "wings" (also explained on this website).  So she literally touched Jesus' "wings" to get her healing.  In the Old Testament, God repeatedly says that He wants to hide Israel in the shadow of His wings (that is, to protect them like an eagle does her young).  David also says, in the Psalms, that he sought refuge under God's "wings."  Another very significant use of the Hebrew word is Malachi 4: 2, a prophecy about the Messiah, that says, "
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall" (read the full prophecy here).   So, by this gesture, she was calling on Jesus as her refuge, and claiming her promised healing from her Messiah.  


It was a timid gesture, but it was based on a bold faith.  This woman had done her reading!  Hope this comment adds to your appreciation of the story.


Seen and Known

“’Who touched me?’ Jesus asked,” (Luke 8:45).

He already knew who had touched Him!  We have to realize at some point that essentially all of the questions Jesus asked in the Bible were rhetorical—He was fully God and fully man, and therefore all-knowing!  So why did He ask?  Did He want to single her out in her shame?  No—He treated her with gentleness and respect.   He wanted her to feel worthy again of being seen and known, because she was acknowledged by the Messiah himself!

Notice the disciples’ incredulous reaction.  Sometimes I laugh at them for still questioning His reasons after all that they had seen, but then I look in the mirror…. He didn’t rebuke them for their doubts, but allowed them to watch and learn.

Invisible

I try to put myself in her shoes, and imagine how she must have felt.  We have just a few words to describe what she was going through.  “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet” (v. 47).

The reader’s first reaction might be that she should have been eager to thank the one who had healed her.  But the habits she had formed over twelve years of uncleanness made her shy away from this idea, no matter how her heart may have been overflowing with gratefulness.  She wanted to “go unnoticed”—she was used to being invisible.

Trembling

Of course—after twelve years of bleeding, she would be physically weak, right?  Wrong.  She had been instantly healed, not just a little but completely.  “Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering” (Mark 5:29).  God doesn’t fulfill His promises halfway; He doesn’t pour a scant measure, but opens the floodgates of blessing when we submit to Him.  She wasn’t trembling with physical infirmity.  She was trembling with emotion.

At His Feet

She fell at His feet not out of weakness but in worship.  Whether she knew the fullness of who Jesus was or not, she knew that the one who had redeemed her from all her pain deserved all her adoration.  What has He redeemed you from? When was the last time you fell at His feet in praise?

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