Have we ever been so desperate? Ever known such aloneness?
Twelve years of unclean. Never allowed to place her hand on a child’s or loved one’s face. Never able to wrap her arms around a sister, her mother, a friend. Shunned, detached from family and friends and all of society. Excluded from celebrations. Barred from worship.
This unnamed woman had been robbed of all meaning to life. In her solitary existence she took up space – eating, breathing, washing, dressing, undressing, washing again, sitting in her room for days and years on end. And the endless washing.
Always praying, hoping, longing, expecting. Spending every free moment and every spare coin in search of relief from a pain that tortured her body and soul. Only to be disappointed.
Rather than risk His anger by touching and making Him unclean, she devised a plan to get only near enough to touch the hem of his outer robe.
If I can reach the fringe. Or a tassle. Something.
She had heard of the miracles – feeding multitudes and healing shriveled limbs and blind eyes – and of the thousands who followed Him from one town to the next.
Surrounded by hordes of villagers crowding and jostling, He would never know. Nobody would know.
What do you mean, Who touched you? the disciples laughed. Are you kidding? Look at this crowd – everyone is touching you!
Jesus ignored the skeptics and turned to see the woman. Of course He knew. But He wanted her to know. God’s gifts are given for free to those who ask and seek and long to be made whole. Not trinkets in a market stall to be grabbed unaware. Jesus confronted the woman – to extend the divine gift with His permission and blessing. To make contact with the one seeking.
As He always does.
The crowd stopped and the murmurings subsided, but in that moment, the Healer and the one healed saw only the other.
She stepped back. And almost ran – refusing to acknowledge what just took place.
Forget it. If it comes with strings, I don’t want it!
But she did want it. She wanted to be rid of her disease, but there was more… an emptiness gnawing…
Standing only a few feet away, His eyes pierced – but not in anger.
She dropped to the ground, knowing. Fear, guilt, confusion – all tumbled inside her… then she told Him everything.
I shouldn’t have, and I’m so ashamed… But if you knew what I’ve endured. Just strike me dead and get it over with… this misery is too much…
She kept her head lowered, expecting censure.
Yet mixed in the inner turbulence were gratitude and relief…
Still kneeling, she looked up. And twelve years of despair poured from her lips…
I’ve been unclean… and lonely… and wasted all my money on doctors who gave no help or relief… yet still, the bleeding wouldn’t stop.
And then I heard you were coming, so I came too.
Eyes to the ground again…
I only wanted to touch the edge of your robe. I meant no harm.
But then in a bold rush she raised her eyes to His.
And it worked! The bleeding stopped!
An audible gasp emerged from the crowd, and she looked around, remembering she wasn’t alone. Standing to her feet, she continued…
It’s gone! The bleeding is gone! And I’m healed! I’m clean! Clean!
More gasps and whispers from the crowd, awed by her declaration.
Then He spoke.
Daughter, be of good cheer.
His smile bathed her entire being in warmth.
And she whispered her thanks as He blessed her.
Your faith has made you well. Go in peace.
He laid His hand on her shoulder and squeezed.
Thank you, she whispered again.
But those standing closest to the Healer stirred as a group of servants ran and pushed themselves into the crowd. Distress lined their faces, grief filled their eyes, as they spoke in low tones to one of the men closest to them.
Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any more?
Jesus immediately turned to the man.
Don’t be afraid. Only believe, and she will be well.
Then Jesus looked around at some of the men who traveled with Him, and they walked with the anxious father toward his home.
Most of those in the crowd followed the Healer, now more eager to see what would happen next.
Torn between the father’s grief and her own happiness
But He said she would be well. He will heal the girl, as He healed me!
Nodding and laughing and crying all at the same time, she and others voiced their wonder at the miracle. Some of the faces around her she recognized, and they nodded and laughed, too. Hands were reaching for hers and patting her back. And arms of those she knew hugged her, and she held on – melting in their embrace.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Jairus listened and watched as Jesus confronted the woman, and as she told about her illness. And he tried to feel compassion, but every breath he took while standing helpless, took his daughter closer to her death.
He felt the commotion and then heard, Master. He could tell by the looks on their faces, his servants had come with bad news.
They barely finished telling him, when Jesus interrupted.
Don’t be afraid… she will be well.
The Healer motioned ahead and nodded, and followed him home.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Two miracles interwoven in the same story, of strangers connected only by their need and their faith, and their refusal to give up.
Jairus returned home and witnessed his daughter’s life restored. We don’t know how long she had been sick, or what she died from. But we’re told she lived, even though so many obstacles got in the way. Even when hope was lost.
And the woman returned home that day, to begin a new life.
Both, desperate for a touch from the only One who could heal. And both were rewarded for faith that would not let go.