“And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself. “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well. Jesus turned and seeing her, he said, “Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.” Matthew 9:20-22
Most of us have heard this passage many times, but have we really looked into how truly awesome this one small encounter with Jesus truly was? It’s only a mere tiny blip, 3 small verses in a ginormous book of thousands of verses. But it summarizes the state of mankind and God’s heart towards us.
This woman suffered from constant bleeding for 12 years. The menstrual cycle in biblical times was considered to make a person unclean, whether it be the woman herself or the objects or people she touched. During it, if you sat on a chair it was unclean, if you slept on a bed it was unclean, if you touched a person they were rendered unclean. This woman was marked as permanently ceremoniously unclean or more specifically, “spiritually impure.” She spent her life exiled from her people.
Knowing this, we can see just how significant it was that this women was, first of all, even among the crowds of people at all, and second, that she had the courage to reach out and touch a man’s garment. This wasn’t a random occurrence where she just happened to be there, see Jesus and say to herself, what the heck, I might as well throw my name in the healing hat too. It was the deliberate, intentional, brave act of a woman who was desperate for and believed in the healing power of Jesus in her life. A women who risked and as an act of faith, she pursued, found, and reached out to Jesus. She knew he would heal her if only she could even just touch his garment. This woman had tried everything else, she had spent all of her money on doctors. Jesus was her last and only hope.
When Jesus turned around He saw her. She was afraid, she fell down, trembling and cried out with her plea and situation. She believed in Jesus’ healing power, but it seemed maybe she wasn’t so sure of what his attitude would be towards her. Jesus immediately revealed it. He so kindly and tenderly comforted her with words that should be etched in our hearts and our minds forever as to how Jesus responds to our cries, our fears, and our need for healing.
Jesus said to her, “Take heart, daughter your faith has made you well (whole).” vs. 22
The word daughter wasn’t just an endearing, nice thing to say to cheer up a frightened woman. In the Greek it literally means an actual descendant, a daughter of God.
This is just another example of Jesus not only calling the unclean, the sinner, and the poor to himself, but an act of care and love for them. I found it interesting that in this story, Jesus was actually on the way to heal another daughter. This daughter was the daughter of a synagogue leader. I can’t help but think that this wasn’t a mistake that he stopped to see the unnamed daughter first. The one that was exiled, alone, the one that no one else would acknowledge. He not only saw her, but he comforted her, and he healed her life.
After being accused and condemned for hanging out with sinners and tax collectors (Matthew 9:10-11) Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)
Not only did he not recoil at her touch as others would have, he welcomed it. He commended her for her faith and he responded in miraculous power to it.
Every single one of us, none of us are exempt, need to look to this women and see ourselves. Often there’s healing that’s needed in our lives, we’re internally bleeding, but powering through, hiding it from others, and hoping that fixing up the exterior of our lives will fix it.
But no matter how put together we look, if we still have internal wounds, they will eventually defile us and everyone we touch and the same life cycles of dysfunction will continue. Focusing on perfecting our ministries, our hair, our homes, are temporary band-aids that only distract us from the true power that God wants to display in our lives, our work, our bodies, our ministries, and our families.
Can we be desperate enough to stop exiling ourselves in shame from our community and risk stepping out into the people and exposing our need? Can we risk reaching out and touching Jesus’ garment by laying aside our doubts and choosing to pursue, find, and reach out to Jesus in faith?
Jesus is the only one that can truly heal us and make us whole. He is waiting for us and longing to respond to us and say, take heart my daughter, for your faith has made you well.