“Saul, I need you to talk to Rebecca…today.”
“Rebecca?” Luke rarely left his clinic during the day, and his fingers pulling at the material on Saul’s sleeve told him that it was serious.
“The lady with the internal bleeding…”
“Oh, yes, Rebecca,” Saul had listened to Luke’s account of the woman’s sad history. Luke suspected that the woman had miscarried a child many years ago. The course of healing did not take its natural course. An infection perhaps in those early days that her doctor had dismissed as trivial had led to years of treatment with no success. Saul remembered meeting her once. What might have once been a vibrant woman had become diluted into something pale and fragile, distressed eyes in shadowy sockets. Rebecca had no money left and had been struck off so many doctor’s registers. Luke, just newly qualified, had stepped in.
“You have to talk to her, Saul. She will listen to you. You know the scriptures inside out. You can tell her…”
“Tell her what?” Saul had won a scholarship to one of the best teaching institutes in the country. He was about to sit at the feet of Gameliel, an eminent theologian in Jerusalem. Just as Saul believed that Luke knew everything there was to know about the body, Luke believed that Saul knew everything about the soul.
“You have to tell her that miracles don’t happen today. God does not miraculously intervene in the lives of people to stop sickness and death. He just gives certain people the skills necessary to heal people normally – knowledge of the physical body, of herbs and their effects – that kind of thing.”
Saul saw the compassion in Luke’s eyes. They had talked long into the night, sitting on the roof of Luke’s house, gazing at the night sky. Luke shared his frustration at the superstitious nonsense some physicians propagated.
“She plans to travel to Jericho. Apparently there is a miracle worker going around healing people. Stories are filtering in about blind people being able to see because he touches them, or lame people being able to walk. Rebecca thinks that even if she just touches this man’s cloak, she will be restored. She is determined to push her way through a crowd to get to him.”
“And you want me to tell her that God doesn’t do miracles anymore?” Saul shook his head gently, “I don’t think I can tell her that. To say that God doesn’t do miracles – it would be like saying that God changes, that He is not immutable, or omnipotent. He did many miracles through prophets like Elijah and Elisha, so why would He not do miracles any more?”
“So you think this man is another Elisha or an Elijah?” Luke raised a sceptical eyebrow.
“No, I am just saying that you can’t say that God doesn’t do miracles anymore. Now, I could tell her about what the law says about a sick woman going into a crowd. That is a serious offence. That is breaking the law…” Saul raised an admonishing finger.
“She is not contagious, Saul. She doesn’t have an illness that can be passed on by touching anyone.”
“That is not the point – the law is the law. It is there for a reason.”
The two friends stood quietly for a moment, heads bent as they wrestled with what to do about Rebecca.
“You know what the saddest thing about all this is?” Luke took and deep breath. “You know why she wants to be well again? It has nothing to do with family, having another child before it’s too late. It is not even about health for health’s sake. The one thing that she wants is to go into the presence of God. She wants access into the Temple courts to worship. She wants to go into a synagogue to hear the scriptures read. She wants to be where God is, and her illness forbids her.”
Luke’s words prodded at Saul’s heart. He was ashamed because Rebecca’s passion had cast a light on his own. He was passionate about scripture, and the law – but the God that was the author of his faith at times seemed remote.
“Let her go, Luke. If her heart is as you say, God knows all of that and maybe He will intervene. Perhaps she will get her miracle. And if not - she is used to disappointment – another won’t hurt her. And she has you to come back to.”
Very loosely based on Matthew 9:20-22.
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