The story: Luke 8:43-48 English Standard Version (ESV) And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
First we need to consider what this condition would have meant to this woman and how it would have impacted her daily life.
Leviticus 15:19-22 states:
- And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even.
- And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean.
- And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
- And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
So consider the above, consider the society that she lived in, and consider that she had suffered this condition for 12 long years. Every person she touched would have been unclean, everything she touched would have been unclean. In the society that she dwelt in her condition would have caused her to be treated very similar to a leper. As she works her way through this great crowd of people every person she bumped into, everything she bumped into, would be deemed unclean. She touched the tassels of the robe that the Lord Jesus was wearing, making it unclean.
She works her way carefully through the huge crowd, her heart pounding wildly within her chest. She is taking a great risk today, but she is certain, she is hopeful, she is desperate. Twelve long years of torture, to live amongst a people and yet always be apart from them, to be in plain sight but not seen, to have people that she had known all her life avoid her, avoid all contact with her. Yet she has heard of this new teacher, heard the stories of how he touched lepers and cleansed them, how he brought sight to blind eyes, even how he had raised a dead child to life! This must be the One for which they have been waiting! It must be! And he is compassionate, he is different, for what Rabbi would ever touch a leper?
She weaves through the crowds heedless to the mutterings and cries of outrage as she bumps into people. She falls to the dusty ground and crawls through the legs of the masses, reaching out through them to barely grasp the fringe of his garment. Immediately she feels a rush through her body and she sits back on her heels as the crowds carry Jesus away. She stands to follow at a distance. He stops and turns and looks through the crowds shouting out "who touched me?" Her heart pounds within her chest, she has dared touch a holy rabbi's garment, she has made it unclean! What will he do to her for this terrible affront? But then she sees something in his eyes, and she has felt her body cleansed and healed so she timidly steps forward and falls at his feet.
"Master, I have heard the stories, of how you have stooped to touch lepers, how you made them clean, how you brought sight to the blind and I have been unclean with a blood issue for twelve long years, I have yearned to be part of my family again, to feel the touch of human hands, to be clean......so I knew if I could only touch the hem of your garment I would be free." She trembles, it is possible that he will chastise her, that her uncleanness is too much, that she has caused great offense....but then he smiles and says "daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace."....Daughter! He called her daughter!
Perhaps it did not take place exactly as I described it, but I wonder oh friends do you see the wonder of this story? Do you see His great compassion for the outcast? Can you feel the desperation of this woman? Can you see how sad and heartrending her condition was to her? Can you imagine being in the midst of society but being outcast? Being deemed unclean? Unable to attend worship, unable to touch the ones you love nor feel their touch upon you? To spend all that you have to seek healing and all for nothing?
And I wonder if you can see this Jesus, the One who sees us, He sees us in our brokenness, He sees us in our uncleanliness, in our desperation, in our broken and frantic attempts to heal ourselves......He sees us and He is willing, He is willing for us to reach out and touch the hem of His garment and be whole.
A desperate woman, who has spent all she has trying to buy hope, and purchase healing, all for naught, crawls out in faith and touches the hem of the Master's garment........and finds healing, hope, and peace. She comes unclean, and outcast, she walks away a daughter of the King.