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The Woman with the Bloody Past

October 27, 2020


     Imagine being the woman in the Bible with the never-ending period (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48). You’ve been bleeding for twelve years (yikes!) and you don’t think it’s ever going to stop. You’re “ceremonially unclean” and have been isolated from society since you were twelve years old. So now, you’re about 24. You’ve given up entirely on marriage and having children. You’ve spent every cent of your inheritance on doctors. And nothing, nothing can help you. You expect to live as a broken woman the rest of your life while never leaving the sick chamber. 

     But even from there, the canvas walls of your isolation, you hear rumors of a healer in Israel. There had been fads in the past of so-called-healers who stole your money and left you more broken than before. But this man seems unique because accompanied with the title of “healer” is “Son of God.” When you first heard this description from the nurse who brings you clean linens, your heart fluttered, something it never does anymore. Today, when she says he’s headed towards Capernaum — your town — and expected tomorrow, you gasp.

     The rest of the day you pace inside your tiny tent. The thought racing in your mind, He could heal me. You imagine him being a princely man glowing with divinity. Excitement mixes with desperation. Your last hope: Jesus.

     You don’t sleep that night and at the first sign of dawn you resolutely, despite your body’s increasing weakness and society’s expectations of isolation, walk quickly to the hill in town that looks down at the street. As the sun shifts in the sky you begin to feel weary—hot sun and lost blood. You carefully move to sit at the base of a fig tree. And wait. 

     Mid-day you begin to hear it: the feet of thousands of people. Some had accompanied Jesus since he got off the boat at the Sea of Galilee, others now crowd along the streets. A strike of fear hits you. What if I can’t reach him? And another. What if I’m recognized? You shudder at the thought of punishment and pull the cloak tighter around you. 

     At first, you can’t pick out Jesus from the crowd. No special golden glow. But then, your eyes snag on a common-looking man, which all of the commotion seems to revolve around. Him. You stand and a wave of dizziness fills your senses. Not good. You breathe deeply and walk slowly towards the road. 

     You catch one more glimpse of Jesus before the crowd presses in on all sides and he disappears from view. Despair rises within you. There’s no way to get through. Tears fill your eyes. You blink them back and say a prayer to the God of Abraham whom you’ve never abandoned despite the direness of your circumstances. You whisper one of His names: Redeemer. 

     Suddenly, you realize you might be able to squeeze between the people and if you could just touch him, you would be healed. You gather your tattered cloak around your lips and nose and step into the road to join the moving crowd. Despite your determination, you feel the weakness in your being. You can barely keep up with their walking pace. 

     But you say his name in your mind: Jesus. This gives you the strength to begin slipping between the packed people towards the man you know holds your healing. But the heat and your bleeding. Dizziness begins to blur your vision. You’ve never walked so far before. When you cannot go a step further—you see him. But the crowd around Jesus is too compact, too tight for you to move through. 

     When your vision is about to go black, you catch sight of one of his tassels and reach for it. You stealthily brush your fingertips over the fabric, so briefly, before it’s pulled from you. And instead of the expected darkness of unconsciousness from pushing yourself too hard for too long, white light fills your vision. It’s all you can see. A faint tingling begins in the tip of your toes and makes its way to the top of your head. You know instantly: I am healed. Cleansed. Made new. 

     The crowd pushes you to the edge of the street, out of the way. You don’t mind. You raise your hands to the sky in victory. Your cloak falls from your head and someone recognizes you. “You shouldn’t be here! UNCLEAN.” They say angrily, afraid they will be infected by you. But suddenly, the crowd is silenced. Jesus has stopped walking. 

     A sinking feeling fills you. He knows. I shouldn’t be here. You’re about to drape the cloak over your head and escape, but you hear his voice and know deep in your bones he’s speaking directly to you. 

     “Who touched me?”

     The ones closest to him explain, “There is a crowd…it was probably one of us.” 

     Jesus continues, “Healing has been released from me.” 

     Trembling all over, you take a step forward. You don’t have to sneak through the crowd this time. They part for you. Some recognize you. Unclean, you know they are saying under their breaths. But you are used to it. You move towards Jesus and notice within you that your constant tiredness has been replaced with energy which thrums through you. But that doesn’t matter, he will probably take the healing back, you think.

     You plan on kneeling a distance away to show respect, but your feet take you right to him. You fall at his feet, place your forehead on his sandals, and wrap your arms around his ankles. In your spirit you plead I am so sorry for stealing your healing, my savior. 

     But Jesus, instead of reprimanding you and pushing you away as expected of any other man, bends low and places his hand on your shoulder. Gently, tenderly he brushes his thumb along your back. 

     “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” 

     You almost collapse with relief, but somehow, you have the courage to look into his face—such typical features of a man, except with him each of them is etched with compassion. 

     “Go in peace.” 

     “Thank you,” you whisper so low that only he can hear.

     He keeps your gaze a little longer as you back away. He then turns to those nearest him and begins teaching. 

     With your heartbeat quick and untameable, you run to the temple with your newfound energy to tell them the good news of your healing. For some reason, the Pharisees seem displeased when you mention the name Jesus, but nothing can keep your spirit from soaring with joy.

     You tell your nurse that she is dismissed from her duties, and then, you go to see your parents for the first time since being a child. A feast and celebration is held.

     That night, as you lay in the bed of their home in clean clothes and with a heart full of gratitude, you think about Jesus. You memorize every line of his face, each whisker of his beard, and the compassion of his eyes. You sigh. And say “thank you” over and over as you drift off to the fullest sleep of your life.