Matthew 9:18–26; Mark 5:21–43; Luke 8:40–56 (read online ⧉)
People often use scripture to justify certain things, or at least state that whatever “this” is, it is nothing new. One of those is a thought that the woman in today’s Scriptures had been bleeding due to a botched abortion. This, of course, is conjecture. There are several other medical conditions which this could fall under, so making this kind of conjecture is often not helpful. This is especially the case when such conjecture takes away from the mystery that is already present in the Scripture.
Think about the other healings that Jesus performed. In the other healings, he was approached then would act. He was just on his way to heal someone else, and this women surreptitiously approaches him and just touches his clothes to be healed.
The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) have slightly different tellings of the story. Yet, the woman’s initiative to approach Jesus and touching his clothing to be healed is consistent. Both Mark and Luke talk about the crowds surrounding Jesus. This took courage for this woman.
The primary thought that this bleeding was similar to menstrual bleeding (hence the aforementioned piece about abortion). If that is so, while the woman would not have to declare “unclean” as a leper, should would be ceremonially unclean, and probably unwelcome, if anyone knew. She, probably some sort of outcast, would have to go among those who likely mocked and scorned her. If she was successful, for 12 years, to keep her condition secret, then she would have likely been overwhelmed by guilt and inadequacy.
In Mark and Luke, this story takes on another interesting twist. She approached; she touched; she was healed. There was no “action” by Jesus. This unique aspect should be one of those moments where we stop and wonder, what is different?
Anything is conjecture, as the Bible does not directly say anything. One possibility is that in this story we see God and Man. The Godly power left Jesus. Jesus the Man was surprised. Both aspects of Jesus were in full display. There is even this odd hint of the Water of Life being spent, which would then be refilled by God.
On the other hand, there is an echo of the time in Eden after Adam and Eve had eaten the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve had heard God walking in the Garden and hid because they were naked. God asked where they were. Adam and Eve revealed themselves in shame. Sounds somewhat like the woman who revealed herself.
There is also the beauty of trust that this woman has. It isn’t just trust of being healed, but when she reveals herself and tells her story, there is a vulnerability that requires an explicit trust in Jesus.
This woman has no name in the Scriptures (outlined here). Her cured affliction has been noted for history, but the shame of her condition is not tied to her name. Just as the shame that once weighed her down was gone, so was what needed healing. She left it behind. Her gift was that her legacy was not her condition. She moved forward in freedom.
※ Prayer ※
Lord, we thank you for taking our shame. Though we may still bear the scars and pain of it, the shame is gone. May this freedom that you have given us, not be misused or unused for your glory. Amen.
※ Questions ※
1) Why do you think each of the Gospel writers (especially Matthew), chose to tell the story the way they did? What do you think of the additional piece that Mark and Luke have?
2) What is your biggest takeaway regarding the woman of our story?
3) What do you think the response was of those who were acting on Jairus’ behalf?