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Slip in unnoticed from behind? Or come at it openly face to face? This woman tried a hind-side maneuver, but Jesus forced her to face up.
Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. Immediately her flow of blood stopped.
Jesus said, "Who touched Me?" When all denied it, Peter and those with him, said, "Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, '"Who touched Me?'"
But Jesus said, "Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me." When the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.
And He said to her, "Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace."
Luke 8:43-48 NKJV, condensed
Speak Up and Be Free
What can we say about a woman who had a medical condition too embarrassing to talk about! We could whisper about her misfortune and how pale and weak she appeared. But more than that, according to Leviticus 15:25, she was unclean. Contact with others, including her husband, was forbidden. Everyone she touched must bathe, wash their clothes and remain unclean until evening. Whatever she handled had to be cleansed. She was isolated and alone, not because she was contagious, but because of this religious law.
She had been unclean for 12 long years! During which time she had been to many doctors, but there was no cure. The smelly discharge continued. When she heard about Jesus, she decided that twelve years of hiding in the shadows of society were more than enough. If she was going to be healed, she must step into the crowd. Despite her fear and trembling, despite the ancient prohibitions and probable condemnation of her peers, despite her shame and embarrassment, despite her weakness and apprehensions; she must get out there and push her way through to Jesus.
Her plan was clear: Don't tell anybody and stay as inconspicuous as possible; approach from the rear, reach out and innocently touch just the fringe of Jesus' garment. That would be her point of contact and healing, then she would steal away quietly before anyone noticed her.
It's interesting, isn't it. This woman had a super amount of faith, but her anxieties and fears kept her actions concealed. She was very unique, believing she could initiate a healing on her own terms simply by touching the hem of Jesus' clothing, all the while remaining out of sight and undetected! She certainly didn't want to come face to face with Jesus or anyone in the crowd.
Making plans in the quiet of her room was one thing. Executing those plans publicly on a crowded street was a different matter. She managed to successfully touch the edge of his garment and feel the surge of healing. But then something happened she did not expect. Jesus stopped in his tracks. He felt the surge too, so he turned around and said, "Who touched me?" Peter thought Jesus must be kidding and played along with the joke.
So Jesus asked the question again, and waited, looking around for an answer. What a cruel thing to do. The woman was stunned. She didn't want anyone to discover her presence. But the silence magnified to the point where she knew she had been found out and could not escape. So in a scene that is painful to watch, she emerged from her hiding place, trembling and in great anguish.
She fell at Jesus' feet and the truth of her situation spilled out for everyone to hear. All pretense vanished. With many tears, the secrets of her great humiliation were uncovered, her life laid bare. And you know what! Here's the surprise. Instead of the condemnation and rejection she expected to receive, Jesus called her "daughter," a tender term of endearment.
"Daughter, be of good cheer." Yes! A new chapter waits to be written!Rise, shout for joy, and walk away with your head up and your health restored. Go from here in peace, peace with yourself, the world and with God. Obviously, this was a much better script than anything the woman had anticipated. Her healing was complete; plus the added bonus, her life was made whole.
Was Jesus being unkind when he demanded to know who touched him? On the contrary Jesus was lifting her out of her loneliness, fear and embarrassment. When she admitted what was troubling her, it set her free. She had nothing more to hide. Had she slipped home undetected, she would have missed this transforming encounter and never known the important role she had played in her own healing. It wasn't the fringe of Jesus' garment, it was her faith that made her well. Her faith, a never-ending resource; no longer cloaked in secrecy, but now adorned by truthfulness.
Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further study or reflection.
Icebreaker: What is one thing which, at some point in your life, was embarrassing to you?
This woman devised a plan to be healed by Jesus on her own terms. What were the flaws in her strategy? What does it mean to approach Jesus on our own terms?
Think about things you do in secret which you would not do if someone were observing you. Why do people feel it necessary to conceal such actions?
When we hide the truth, we take upon ourselves the burdens of pretense and cover-up. When we admit what is troubling us, we are freed from these pressures. Describe the freedom of telling the truth and confessing to one's deeds. List some things this woman was freed from through her face-to-face encounter with Jesus. Is there anything you need to unload in order to be free? To whom do you need to express it? If you can't tell the people involved, express it to Jesus.
Can you experience both fear and faith at the same time? How were both fear and faith evident in this woman's life? Do you think she was a champion of faith? Why or why not? What was her trembling all about?
It's interesting that Jesus commended this woman for her faith, yet earlier in the chapter he told his disciples they behaved as though they had no faith. What is faith? Is faith a straight road or does it twist and turn, climb and descend? What does the road of your faith look like and where has it taken you?
She believed in her healing before it happened! How can that be?She also got rid of some "garbage" that had accumulated in her mind over the past 12 years. Why was that important?
If sneaking around, concealment, and secrecy do not go hand in hand with faith, what are the companion words that do fit well with faith? Renew your mind daily by repeating those companion words often.