ENCOUNTERS WITH JESUS

THE WOMAN WITH THE HAEMORRHAGE

It was one of those crowds that make you wish you had stayed home. A shoulder-to-shoulder, slow-moving, suffocating mass of sweating humanity.

In the middle it all, with teeth clenched against her pain, with limbs trembling from her weakness, and her heart throbbing with the dread of exposure and the agonizing fear of yet another failure, a woman pushed her way inch by determined inch closer to Jesus.

She had heard so much about this man. So much that it had ignited a small flicker of hope in the deep darkness of her helplessness and despair. So much that she was here in this crowd, coming closer and closer, and, with her one last hope for healing, reaching towards his cloak.

Here in silent prayer, she commits herself to him.

Will he be offended by this touch from a ritually unclean woman? Will she incur wrath and rejection rather than release? Will she receive censure and criticism rather than cleansing?

What she has heard of him encourages her. He touched that man with leprosy, and healed him. He touched that coffin in Nain, and handed its victim back to his mother. He welcomed the touch of that prostitute in Simon's house and proclaimed her forgiven. Surely he will not reject her touch.

The tassels on his cloak quiver with the rhythm of his footsteps. All around the crowd presses against him. No one notices the frail hand that touches those tassels for a fleeting moment. No one notices the veiled woman shrinking back into the crowd. No one knows the strength and joy that is flooding her being. No one except Jesus.

He heard the unspoken prayer. He felt the fragile fingers of her faith. And he answered and healed. But he will not let her hide. Both the woman and the crowd need to know that she is no longer ritually unclean, no longer excluded from worship, no longer a threat to their ritual cleanness. And the woman needs to be assured that it was her faith in Jesus Christ that was the key factor in her healing, not coincidence, not superstition.

They all hear his loving, liberating words: 'Daughter, you faith has healed you. Go in peace'.

Scriptures: Luke 9:42b-48; Matthew 9:20-22; Leviticus 15:25-30; Luke 5:12-13; 7:11-18, 36-50.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004,2008