“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” I John 4:18a (NKJV)
After the years of isolation, being in the middle of so many people was frightening. The closeness suffocated her. The noise of their voices echoed inside her head. And every time someone brushed past her, she recoiled, startled by the unfamiliar sensation of human touch.
Shrinking back along the edges of the crowd, she kept her head down and made eye contact with no one. She mustn’t be seen because she wasn’t supposed to be here. The law was very clear on this matter, and everyone knew it.
She steeled herself with the thought that most of the crowd was young; they would have been children when it first began. Still, she knew that even young people would recognize the metallic scent that lingered in the air as she passed by them, the odor made so much stronger by the stifling heat of bodies packed close together in the afternoon sun. Anxiously she checked her garments for the tell-tale reddish brown stain. Her heart raced and she felt lightheaded and sweaty.
Steadying herself, she breathed deeply and tried to clear her head. She had heard things about Him – wonderful things, strange things. She didn’t know if they were true, but they were beautiful and had forced her to leave her seclusion to find out more. He had become her one hope. Once more, she ran her hand along the back of her dirty cloak and inched her way through the crowd.
Soon she stood near Him, close enough to touch. A sudden movement in crowd swayed her, forcing her even closer. But at the same time, the humid air carried the stench of her bloody shame to her nostrils and she gagged, reminded yet again of her disgrace. Dropping her head, she stooped to the dirty ground, pretending to retie the strap of her sandal.
Her mind filled with fears. What was she doing here? What did she expect Him to do for her? He wouldn’t defile Himself by touching her. He couldn’t. Yet, He was so close. Dare she call out to Him? No she mustn’t. Then everyone would know. Perhaps she should simply go home. Maybe there was no hope for her.
But in that moment, she saw it. There, low among the filth of feet and earth, she saw the bottom of His coat. She hesitated. Slowly, cautiously, she reached out. She paused, her hand trembling. Then in one final movement, she stretched out her hand and fingered the trim of His robe.
When she realized what she had done, she jerked her hand back in horror. How dare she defile this pure man with her polluted touch? Quickly she rose from her stooped position, desperate now to leave. Her movements were strangely free and fluid. Gone was the ache, the pain. Gone too was that horrible smell. Something had happened just then. But she didn’t have time to think about it now. She must leave before anyone recognized her, before anyone realized what she had done.
“Who touched me?”
His words struck terror in her heart and halted her steps. She kept silent, trying to shake her head along with the others and look bewildered at such an absurd question. Many people had touched Him. Yet, He seemed to know that someone who should not have touched Him, had.
He gazed into the perplexed crowd until His eyes met hers. Panicked, she turned her head to avoid His penetrating look. He knew. He knew her shameful secret. He knew she was the one who had touched Him with her unclean hands.
Again He spoke, this time as if to her alone.
“Someone touched me.”
He stood there looking at her, waiting, and she realized she could not avoid Him. Turning her head, she lifted her eyes toward His gaze and returned it.
And in His eyes, she saw a love that she had not seen in years. Love not just for the masses, but for her. Unexpectedly, this love awakened another love. Love for a Man, who was so pure yet had compassion on the defiled. Love for a God who was so powerful yet stooped to heal the helpless. Love that compelled her to embrace Him, not just as her Healer, but as her Hope.
Quivering, she stepped forward, the new born love struggling against still attacking doubts. Barely above a whisper, she spoke.
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