“She came up behind [Jesus] and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.” (Luke 8:44 NIV)
Do you prefer to remain unnoticed in public settings? I do. It feels safer. There’s less risk of experiencing humiliation. Yet, one desperate woman took that risk the day she snuck up to touch Jesus’ garment. She preferred a quiet healing, but Jesus didn’t keep it quiet! Why not? Why did He expose her before everyone, causing her to be terrified of a public shaming?
For years, I’ve been baffled over Jesus’ behaviour. How could He do that to her? Couldn’t He have taken her aside? After all, her bleeding disorder was intensely personal. It was also intensely shaming. It caused her to be ceremonially defiled, banished from religious participation. Furthermore, anyone she touched would become defiled. People would have kept their social distance. After enduring this for twelve years, her conscience was surely ingrained with one blazing message: “To avoid shame and rebuke, I mustn’t step over the line. Stay in the shadows. That’s my place. It’s safer.” — But not with Jesus!
Jesus drew her out of the shadows and turned her big no-no into a public affair. “Who touched me?” He asked the entire crowd. Interestingly, the word “touched” occurs four times in the Luke account. Why? What’s the point? I now believe that Jesus was using the touching incident to publicly prove His identity as the promised Messiah. He was the One come to heal, to liberate, and also to abolish the old religious system. The woman was His visual aid. Instead of shaming her for defiling Him, He honoured her — publicly. What a shock that must have been to the onlookers!
Surely, the woman experienced two miracles: spiritual and physical. The spiritual one was hidden — certainly to me. I now believe that a quiet miracle within had freed her conscience from years of religious programming and its condemning power. Jesus freed her to hope again!
The woman was happily healed and restored to her community. But that could never have equalled the wonderful experience of her new personhood through Christ: She was now lovely in God’s eyes, lovely in body and mind, blessed and honoured for her faith in Him. What a healing! What a Messiah!
What about you and me? For many of us, it’s now socially unacceptable to acknowledge our Lord, even in many church settings. It seems safer to stay in the shadows — but not with Jesus! As for the woman, He calls us to step out amidst a world of skepticism and unbelief, to be testimonies of His healing power, to be His modern visual aids. Thus, we need our own hidden miracles within — the quiet renewal of faith.
Prayer: Lord of liberty, by Your Spirit’s work within each of us, free us to step out of the shadows, unhindered by risks to our pride, that through our lives, we may be vibrant testimonies of Your presence, power, and merciful love. Amen.
Paisley, Ontario, Canada
Reprinted from PresbyCan with Author’s Permission.