Happy almost Sabbath. Since thousands of us cannot attend church services in person tomorrow, I wanted to offer a short devotional of sorts to my fellow man and friend.
As I have been pondering the state of our country’s current corona virus crisis, praying for wisdom for our medical professionals and leaders, protection over everyone (particularly those most vulnerable) and for mercy from God to heal our land and world at large, I keep waking up thinking about Luke 8: 40 – 48, when Jesus heals the bleeding woman.
Now, I am not a scientist, medical professional, virus expert, or even a scholar, so I am not making light of what is happening, or over-simplifying the severity of the crisis, but I did want to share this, with the hope that it will bring peace and consolation in this time of perplexity, fear, and the bend towards self-protection and isolation. For those of you who know this story, indulge me for a moment. For those who don’t read the Bible, I hope you keep reading.
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,[a] but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
There are a few contextual items of importance to note in this account.
A woman like she, was considered ceremonially unclean, and because of her constant bleeding for 12 years, had not only dealt with the physical ramifications of that, but the social isolation which would have been brought upon her as a woman who was considered by Jewish law to be ‘unfit’ for religious worship and/or social exposure. She was, in a way, a leper — cast out, isolated, and alone.
Her condition was not only perplexing, it was considered to be unfixable. No one had a cure. No one had a vaccine. No one could solve the issue.
In the public eye, it would have been shameful for her to touch Jesus’s cloak in the middle of a crowd, in the middle of the public eye. She was risking everything — in a way, she had nothing left to lose, but this was her very dignity — her very reputation — further at stake. She was desperate, and she was desperately coming to Jesus.
At the base level, she removed cultural, financial, generational, contextual, medical and religious barriers from her situation — she believed, in her core, that Jesus was not only a possible solution to her problem, He was THE ONLY CURE.
And, as I’ve been praying — over the virus and hysteria and fear and legitimate sickness this weekend, and a host of other burdens I am aware of, and feel deeply for others, God keeps calling me directly to this passage over and over again.
For those who observe the liturgical calendar as Christians, we are in the season of Lent, a time of sober preparation, quietness, and personal reflection for Easter and the celebration of Christ’s resurrection; it is a time to be still, to be quiet, and to ponder – both our own weakness but the approaching strength of Christ’s resurrection. And in this sobering time – spiritually and nationally – I see this amazing parallel in the story. Our complete desperate sick state, and our complete capable healing Savior.
Just like this woman, we are currently fearful to venture out in public, to find the cure, to be exposed by others, to be touched. We all have varying ranges of desperation and the need for restoration — not just surrounding this outbreak, and the fear of getting sick, or being touched by someone who IS a carrier or sick, but in our hearts and lives and relationships.
The reality is, I believe, we are all sick. This rampant thing called sin has infected all of us, because the world is fallen. We are all infected by the viruses of our own brokenness, our own decay, our own imperfect humanity. And, like this woman, we have been bleeding for years — bleeding out our own ego’s, pride, self-sufficiency, deception, lies, self-righteousness, selfishness, greed, and all the while, in some ways, masking of how desperate we really are. I don’t say this dramatically or flippantly, but I also don’t share this without a great, ironic sense of awe, wonder, and worship to God. While we were still sick, Christ died for us.
By touching Jesus, the crowds believed that this woman had ‘tainted’ the Savior by being an unclean woman touching a holy Teacher of the synagogue. Similarly, we look around, wondering if someone might touch us, and get us sick. Or, we might be out in public and simply exposed to the virus in the air. What if we are a carrier, and touch someone else? What if we have it and don’t even know it? When will it come to my door?
Yet, the truth is, without our great Cure, Jesus Christ, we would truly be as desperate as this woman — bleeding out for years with no hope of change. Yet, she comes trembling on bended knee, and Jesus heals her. He calls her Daughter. Not patient. Not outcast. Not carrier. Not a bother. Nor just a person in a crowd. Not a CDC number. A beloved child of God.
He lifts her off of her knees, and says, your Faith has made you well. WOW. What a story of healing and redemption. And his command to her? Go in peace.
Wherever you are ‘going’ today, even if that is just ten steps down your hallway or a few flights of stairs, my friends, go in peace. Venture in faith, venture wholly on our great Healer and Cure. For in the middle of the crowd — in the middle of public or private socially isolated spaces — in the middle of our broken, frail states — in the middle of thinking it is hopeless and the physicians cannot find the cure — we see Jesus.
We follow Him, pushing through the crowds, however long it takes, however hard it is to reach him — if only we might touch just the fringe, the edge, of his garment, and in a moment, let Him do the Impossible. He centers in on each of us, and without us even speaking a word, He feels our pain and desperation. She didn’t start screaming or crying out to Him — she simply pulled on the edge of his cloak, and He knew.
We are not simply a random person in the crowd — we are daughters and sons of the living God! And even in our own homes, quiet and unseen, we are totally seen by our Father above. And, we can rest today – and forever – knowing that because of Jesus, because of His love and death and resurrection – we are whole and healed forever, for what is in the past, what is in the present, and whatever is to come.
Someone touched me. It was my Savior.
Psalm 103 — Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.