The Woman Who Bled
Read: Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48
Unless otherwise noted, all scripture is NIV.
We know her simply as the woman who bled. We know she was afflicted for twelve years with bleeding. We know that she sought every medical resource of her time. We know that despite these attempts, this woman found no one who could heal her.
What some may not realize or connect to is the fact that, at this point, these people were still bound by Levitical law. Grace had not yet saved the people. Levitical law dictated this:
"When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean, as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. Anyone who touches them will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening." (Leviticus 15:25-27)
Her bleeding wasn't fatal, but this woman probably led a life that felt like a death sentence for over a decade. It's not likely she had many friends; her relatives probably only visited out of obligation, to bring her supplies. She wouldn’t have been welcomed into the city or any type of fellowship. She would have been banned from places of worship. She was unclean and alone. Anyone who came in contact with her would, themselves, become unclean and would then be required to wash their garments and their bodies, and remain unclean and untouchable until evening. It can be assumed that most wouldn't have time for that kind of commitment. This woman was untouchable. She probably hadn't felt another's embrace in those twelve years. She probably hadn't had any deep conversations. She probably missed celebrating holidays with her loved ones, or collecting water with the other women from town. Her bleeding made her unclean, but her inability to be cleansed made her valueless in society.
As we begin to understand the back story, we can understand just how "rebelious" this woman's actions were in regard to the Levitical law that many religous leaders had been using legalistically. Most likely through word-of-mouth, this woman had heard of the Miracle Worker, Jesus. She knew that He was passing through her city; maybe a relative had brought it up as a last-ditch effort. So despite the realization that she would most definitely touch people in a crowd of that size, and despite knowing her intentions were to get close enough to Jesus to purposely touch Him, this woman was determined to try. After twelve years, she could have said, "Nothing will heal me, there is no point." Instead, she heard the testimony of Jesus' power and knew that she had to risk everything to meet this Man who could make her clean. In turn, as the woman stepped out in faith, Jesus quickly acknowledged the very specific power that had gone out from Him, power that could only be grasped when it was faithfully sought after. This woman's affliction may have even been allowed for such a time as this, that her faith might shed light on the power Jesus held and on the necessity of putting one's faith in Christ.
In a thick crowd, Jesus first showed the town not only His power, but His individual concern for people, in that He was able to distinguish a touch of faith from that of the hundreds of others pressing against Him. Next, Jesus listened as this woman shared her suffering and testified not of an unclean woman, but of a woman changed by faith.
Finally, He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." He chose to acknowledge her. He cared so deeply about her restoration and about the pain she'd suffered during her affliction, that Jesus called her out of the crowd and made her cleansing known. He proclaimed her restoration, and in so doing, He proclaimed her value in society--a value and worth that was due entirely to the value that God saw in her.
Jesus displayed, for all to see, the counter-cultural Grace of God. This woman, a lost cause to everyone else, was a precious jewel in the eyes of the Father. He also showed throught this situation the great value of faithful action. It was the woman's faith to pursue Jesus and His healing power that allowed her to be healed. She’d stepped out in a big way. She'd also humbled herself and sought The Healer. Her faith in the Great Physician set her free from her affliction.
We know her simply as the woman who bled. Yet, while we don’t know her name, we can surely learn much from her testimony. Jesus chose to reveal Himself to this woman. He chose to reveal this woman's actions to the crowd gathered around Him. He so purposefully made these decisions so that the wisdom and knowledge of what He had come to earth to complete could be revealed to all. Through this woman's affliction, Jesus was able to reveal to the whole world—even to us today—that His cleansing can reach into the lives of every one of us. The time we’ve spent in affliction cannot hold us back when we faithfully seek out the Great Physician.
Written by Lindsey.
D I G G I N G D E E P E R
So often, our relationship with Jesus, and our ability to receive His many blessings is hindered by our lack of faith. We want desperately to walk on water, move mountains, and perform miracles, yet we lack the faith to take that first step and reach out for the hem of The Healer's garment. The Woman Who Bled, she had nerve. She was willing to risk doing something socially and religiously unacceptable because she had faith and hope, that this Miracle Worker would heal her.