As Jesus was on His way, the crowds almost crushed Him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind Him and touched the edge of His cloak and immediately her bleeding stopped. "Who touched me?" Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master the people are crowding and pressing against you." But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out of me." Then the woman 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. Then He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." -Luke 9:24b-48 (NIV)
Picture what this woman must have suffered all those years before her enounter with our Lord. When us women discharge blood for five days out of the month, we break out the hot water bottles and the chocolate and bemoan our womanly curse--imagine bleeding contstantly for twelve years with no relief! Not only would this woman have suffered incredible discomfort, she would also have been considered "unclean" by Jewish law (see Leviticus 15:25-30). The very bed she slept on was defiled because of her condition. Can you picture the shame she must have felt, having carried such a stigma for so long?
With this in mind, can you feel her trepidition as she sneaks up behind Christ through the bustling crowd? Imagine: an unclean, shameful woman like herself, approaching the One who is from God Himself. If John the Baptist considered himself unworthy to untie His sandals, then who was she to touch him and expect a healing? Yet, she knows that this Galilean is her only hope. All she has to do is touch Him and she will be free...but what if He finds her out? What if He discovers her shame?
Despit her misgivings, she goes for it, and sure enough, the elation of an instant healing gives way to gut-wrenching fear as Jesus whips around and announces that someone has touched Him. Knowing that she's been "busted," she steps forward in front of the multitudes of gawkers and tells her story, not omitting a single detail. Hoo boy. Now she's done it. Surely He is going to be appalled that an unclean woman like herself would dare to approach the Son of God. But the much-expected look of disdain never crosses the face of Christ. Instead, her fearful gaze is met with a set of twinkling eyes as he addresses her as "daughter" and tells her, "Go in peace!" She leaves as a shameless woman, all because she dared to reach out to the Savior.
Many of us are not too different from this woman. While we may not be afflicted with an illness such as hers, we carry around inner wounds that cause us shame. Perhaps it is the baggage of a painful past, a painful addiction, or a thought life that just cannot seem to be tamed. Whatever, the scenario, we know that others would be repulsed upon learning of our unclean condition.
Let this "shameless" woman be an encouragement to any who know they are unclean. When we follow her example and reach for Jesus in spite of our fears and doubts, in spite of how umworthy we may feel to be in His presence, we will receive the same response. Disgust? Disdain? No. Like the woman we will come face to face with a heavenly love that declares that we our healed. We will be called "daugher." We will receive peace. We will be shameless.
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