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Unnamed Women, The Woman with the Issue of Blood - Daily Treasure - March 31

  • 2022 Mar 31

Unnamed Women, The Woman with the Issue of Blood

Sharon W. Betters

TODAY’S TREASURE

And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Mark 5:25-34).

For twelve long years, the woman’s bleeding disorder isolated her because according to Jewish law, she contaminated anything she touched, including people. Her bleeding made her unclean according to Leviticus 15:25-27. For a woman whose menstrual period lasted 5 to 7 days, this law worked well because it relieved her of many of her responsibilities. She did not carry water from the well, cook or serve meals for her family, or have sexual intercourse. But what if the bleeding never stopped? 

Think of the isolation this woman experienced. She was not allowed to be in public unless she announced she was unclean. She lived for twelve years without feeling the warm embrace of her family. At first, she probably did not know the bleeding would never stop so avoiding others and not touching the furniture, food or clothing was difficult but doable. No doubt, she did not feel well and maybe she stayed isolated in a small room, expecting the bleeding to eventually end. How many times did she reach out to touch a loved one’s hand, forgetting for an instant that they would have to bathe, change their clothes and remain alone until the evening? At some point, she, along with those who loved her, realized this bleeding was more than a menstrual cycle. Months turned into years of keeping herself physically clean, repeatedly washing her clothes and linens by hand, by herself. Surely she sought help, including trying the eleven cures listed in the Talmud. Nothing worked.

For twelve years, she followed the law, protecting others from her uncleanness but the isolation pressed her down. She stood on the sidelines of life, hearing laughter and joy in others. Oh, how she longed for her former life when she too, walked with friends early in the morning to pull up buckets of water from the well, catching up on the neighborhood gossip. She wondered when her friends stopped sympathizing with her in their conversations and started talking about how they needed to avoid her. She missed pounding out the bread dough, preparing meals, and sitting around the fire on cool nights, soaking up the beauty of the skies and just belonging. She missed community. At first, she worked hard to avoid touching others when she ventured out, but now she kept her head down, calling out the word “unclean”, knowing she needed to avoid contaminating anyone.  Warned, her neighbors gave her a wide berth. She felt purposeless. The return of joy had slipped away a long time ago.

The stories about this prophet captured her imagination. A seed of hope started growing. Could He heal her, too? But, how could she get through the crowd where people surely knew she was unclean and his disciples would never allow an unclean woman near their rabbi?

Jesus lived in Capernaum at the time and commotion surrounded Him as He made His way to the house of Jairus, a leader in the synagogue, a father desperate for Jesus to heal his daughter. Following along on the fringes, she saw Jesus pause to listen to Jairus. This was her chance. Adrenalin suddenly surged through her body. She drew her shawl tighter around her face, took a deep breath, and heart-pounding with fear and determination, pushed her way through the throng.  Hope fueled her determination through the mass of people. She risked everything. The anger of the crowd could explode against her and drive her deeper into isolation if He did not heal her, but hope grew as she moved closer to Jesus. 

The woman took a deep breath, bent low, almost crawling, stretched out her hand, and touched the hem of his garment, hoping no one noticed her. Immediately, she knew she was different. For the first time in twelve years, her body felt well. She melted back into the crowd, needing to go somewhere private to process what just happened. Could it be? Could it really be? 

But this was not to be a private healing. Jesus knew that power had flowed out of Him and asks, “Who touched me?” His question mystified His disciples because people crowded around Him. Terror filled the woman. Would He reprimand her for touching Him and making Him ritually impure? Would the crowd turn on her? Instead of running away, she fell before Him, and in the presence of all the people, she told her story, including how touching the hem of His garment healed her (Luke 8:47).

Rather than anger, Jesus responds tenderly:

Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease (Mark 5:25-34).

The word for “well” can be interpreted in two ways, “Your faith has made you well” or “Your faith has saved you”. She experienced physical and spiritual healing. While others avoided her, Jesus calls her daughter. With these few words, Jesus makes it clear she belongs, she is safe with Him and her faith in Him healed her.

LIFE-GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT

For all intents and purposes, this woman was dead to the world. She died a little more every day when healing did not come.  Purpose and joy left her years before. Life was not worth living. Ironically, her story is sandwiched between the passages describing the healing of Jairus’ daughter. Both women were, in essence, dead, one physically, the other emotionally. Jesus raised both to life.

Is this Psalm one they sang in response to experiencing such resurrection power?:

Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy (Psalm 103:1-4).

Most of us will not get through life without experiencing deep loss and sometimes those losses put us on a downward spiral whose destination is total despair.  It feels like a living hell. Sometimes we experience shame for our sin or insecurity because something about us causes others to deride or avoid contact. Jesus knows our sorrows. 

Sometimes we might conclude we don’t measure up to God’s standards. We don’t understand Scripture the way others do. This story reminds me that God isn’t looking for healthy, wise, and smart people. He offers hope and healing to those some find contemptible. While we may not experience physical healing on this earth, we can be free of the burden of sin that so easily besets us.

We never hear about this woman again, but it’s easy to believe she was one of the women who followed Jesus along with the other women who supported Him and His disciples. It’s even easier to believe she stood afar off from the Cross with those women, determined to stay until His last breath. From a transformed life flow obedience, joy, and gratitude. May we too respond with joy to the grace Jesus extends to us.

PRAYER

Oh Jesus, before we met You, we too suffered from disease only You could heal. You drew us to Yourself and gave us faith to believe Your death on the Cross and resurrection from the dead wipes out the deadly sin and covers us with Your righteousness. May we too stand at the empty Cross this Easter, rejoicing in the victory over sin and rejoicing that we too have Your resurrection power.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sharon W. Betters is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, pastor’s wife, and cofounder of MARKINC Ministries, where she is the Director of Resource Development. Sharon is the author of several books, including Treasures of EncouragementTreasures in Darkness, and co-author with Susan Hunt of Aging with Grace. She is the co-host of the Help & Hope podcast and writes Daily Treasure, an online devotional.

For more from Daily Treasure please visit MARKINC.ORG.



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