“Your faith has healed you!”
Today’s text comes from the New Testament lesson of the lectionary reading for today, which contains very well- known healing stories of woman and girl by Jesus. But today we will focus on the woman who had a chronic bleeding issue.
As you all know the story goes like this:
Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd by the lake for his fame for healing and casting out demons. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came and asked Jesus to heal his daughter who was on the verge of dying.
Synagogue ruler was an official appointed by the elders to look after the building, its contents, and its arrangements for worship such as preserving order and inviting persons to read or speak in the assembly. This ruler, Jairus, might be the one who was outraged about the disturbance caused when Jesus healed a crippled woman in Luke’s gospel. So, we do not know whether he came to have faith in Jesus as the Messiah as the time passed by, but definitely, we know that he believed Jesus to be a healer. For he said, in verse 23, “My daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”
Jesus was on his way to Jairus’ house to heal his daughter, a twelve- year old, and a large crowd was following him pushing one another pressing around him. There was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. Verse 26, she spent all she had in paying to physicians in the hope that she would get healed. But instead of getting better, she was getting worse and worse. Imagine this woman who had to bleed for twelve years! Even if you are not a woman, I am sure you could easily imagine the suffering and pain and the fear this woman might have gone through.
Not just physical suffering she had gone under. According to Mosaic law, a woman was considered “unclean” each month for seven days during the “regular discharge from her body” (Leviticus 15:19). The purpose of this law was for sanitary, health, and physical-rest purposes, protecting women by restraining the women’s activities, especially sexually. And, also, to relieve women of many of their normal duties until they regained their usual strength.
But the nature of the ailment of the woman, –a continuous flow of blood—would have rendered her constantly unclean status.
Leviticus 15:25-27: “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her impurity (menstruation), or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness; …Every bed on which she lies, and everything on which she sits and whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.”
According to this law, If this woman in our text today was relatively young, it’s quite likely that her condition would have made marriage and childbearing impossible. If she was already married and had borne children before the onset of her disorder, its chronic nature would have severely limited her contact with her husband and family and restricted her activities, –cooking, cleaning, — let alone touching anyone she loved. In short, regardless of her age or marital status, her continual “uncleanness” would have cut her off from her friends, since any contact with her would have made them ritually unclean, too.
Moreover, she was isolated from participation in the public worship of God. She could not come to Synagogue; the synagogue ruler would make sure of that. She was literally a social outcast!!
Verse 27, This woman “had heard the reports about Jesus”. We have to note here that when she “heard” about Jesus, it was not just an act of picking up words physically. It also meant she believed. So, she came up behind him and touched his cloak, his outer garment. It sounds very simple, isn’t it? But it is not. It sounds harmless, isn’t it? But it is not! It took her the lifetime courage to come out in the public to touch Jesus. Remember? She should have avoided any social contact with people for the fear that she might defile other people by her touch. But in here, we can notice that she not only came out in the public, being in the crowd jostling each other defiling many people in that way, but also, she intentionally touched Jesus’ garment defiling Jesus. She intentionally made Jesus “unclean” by touching his garment, a serious crime! She could have been stoned to death for intentionally disobeying Mosaic Law.
Let us pause here for a minute. What made her so bold, what prompted her to violate Mosaic Law which Jewish people were taught to keep them with their lives. In order to understand our text more clearly, we have to know what she believed in. Remember, when she heard about Jesus she also believed? What do you think she believed in? That Jesus had the power to heal? Partly, but it goes much deeper than that. Let us look at the garment she touched. It was an outer garment, some translated it as “cloak”. But in Luke’s gospel 8:44, it reads, “She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.” What she touched was the edge or the hem of his outer garment, and it is a key to understanding her faith that Jesus commended of.
First of all, she believed that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the bible. Remember that she could not reveal herself to anyone around her otherwise this would be seen as a serious crime? Anything and anyone she touches would become unclean? She was taking a big risk believing that there is healing at the hem of the garment of Jesus and touching it. What was it about the garment of the Lord that she had such faith, that if Jesus was really the Messiah that she would receive healing?
If we look at Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, which was written some four hundred years before Christ, contains prophecies speaking of the coming Messiah. Malachi 4:1-3 is a reference to both the first and second coming of Messiah.
Especially if we read, Malachi 4:2, “But for you who revere my name, the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves from the stall.” (KJB)
The “Sun of righteousness” here is the coming Messiah and “his wings” references the four corners of a Jewish prayer shawl, worn by Jewish men after their Bar Mitzvah 13th birthday, prior to their exile and dispersion from the land of Israel; they were worn daily and raised over their head as a mobile prayer closet. (2 Samuel 23: 4; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 60: 19-20; Ruth 2:12; Psalms 91:4; Matthew 23:37)
In other words, Jesus was wearing that prayer shawl that had tassels called tzitzit attached to the corners of his robe or cloak, as commanded by the law: “The LORD said to Moses: ‘. . . Bid [the people of Israel] to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout the generations, and to put upon the tassel of each corner a cord of blue, and it shall be to you a tassel to look upon and remember all the commandments of the LORD’” (Numbers 15:37-39; see also Deuteronomy 22:12).
The reason that the corners of the prayer garment are seen as “wings” is because in Malachi 4:2, “Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings’…”, the word “wings” used here is the same word used for “tassels” in Numbers 15:38.
In this context, the woman believed that Jesus was the Messiah when she heard about him, so that was what prompted her to venture out and touched Jesus’ “tassel” or the edge of his garment as though her life and death were depending on it. She firmly believed the promise that the Messiah had healing in His wings. She looked upon Jesus and believed that He was who He claimed to be. So, she came up behind Jesus with lifetime courage risking everything and when she had touched the hem of His garment, she was instantly healed.
What can we learn from her? We hear about Jesus so much but do we believe that Jesus to be our Messiah saving us from sins, our uncleanliness, our sicknesses, and diseases? There were many people around Jesus at that time to see him performing miracles, but not many, if any, were there to believe that he was the Messiah. This woman might be the only one in the crowd to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, — ‘since he is the Messiah, if I touch his wings, his tassels, I will be healed.’
The Lord blessed her for knowing the scripture and then, second, acting on the promised prophecy “bring healing in His wings” by grabbing the tassel. I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing the scripture. But knowing it alone does not do much. We have to act on it. We have to come to Jesus to touch his tassel risking everything we have, like this woman who bled for 12 years, as though our lives are depending on it. When and if we hear from medical doctors, ‘well, there is no cure for your condition’, then what do we do? Just sit and do nothing and endure suffering and pain? Or Do we try to grab Jesus’ garment as though our life is depending on it? Have we tried to touch Jesus’ garment risking everything? Have we? Or do we just say that not all our sicknesses are meant to be healed? Has it been the answer from God or are we just saying it without trying to grab Jesus’ wing? Have we ever prayed as if our life is depending on it?
There are some people who need to hear this message. God wants you to try to grab Jesus’ tassel so that you will experience God’s healing. Do you need to touch Him today? Do you need healing in your body, cleansing from your sin and a right relationship with God? If you are lost and would like to come under the covering of His wings, and receive salvation, then come to touch the hem of His garment. Touching the hem of the garment is to come under the Wings of the mighty God!