I spent the last 5 days with 124 amazing students, in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, talking about meeting God in ordinary and surprising ways. I got to lead a meditation on one of my favorite Bible stories…about a woman who went looking for Jesus but was still surprised by Him.
But as He went, the crowds were pressing against Him. And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. (Luke 8:43-44)
In her culture, this woman would have been unclean, untouchable. I imagine she was lonely, and I am sure she dealt with shame. In Mark’s account of this interaction, he adds the detail: “she had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse…”
Lonely, ashamed, exhausted. Helpless and hopeless, she goes looking for Jesus.
And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped.
Matthew’s account tells us she thought to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be healed.” Helpless and hopeless, she goes looking for Jesus, hoping, expecting to be healed.
By Jewish law her uncleanness made her untouchable, but still she entered this pressing crowd (I picture it like leaving a Husker game where you’re pressed together like slowing moving sardines. By pressing in with the crowd, she made them all ceremonially unclean, something they surely would have resented.
This was a brave act, but she was desperate.
Where is the surprise in our story? She went into the crowd expecting that if she could just get near enough to Jesus she would be healed and she was. No surprise. Yet.
And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.” (Luke 8:45)
Peter basically says, “Dude, everyone is touching you!”
But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me.”
When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. (Luke 8:46-47)
This bleeding woman expected to touch Jesus and be healed.
But she WASN’T expecting to be noticed by Him.
She wasn’t expecting a personal encounter.
This woman wanted what Jesus had for her. But she wasn’t expecting Jesus to see her. She wasn’t expecting to be noticed.
She wasn’t expecting to have to tell her story. And she tells it publicly, in front all those people she made unclean. What is it about Jesus that made her brave enough to do that?
I don’t know for sure, but I do know what He said to her:
And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)
Can you put yourself in this woman’s place? Picture yourself, wading into a crowd of people around Jesus.
This woman had a hemorrhage, a 12 year health problem that had exhausted all of her resources. A great shame. Think of your own greatest shame. Your greatest need for healing. What do you want from Jesus?
Are you brave enough to push into the crowd around Jesus? Do you believe that He has what you need?
What do you need from Jesus? Picture yourself reaching out to touch Him, asking, needing, wanting.
Are you surprised that He sees you?
And friend, He DOES see you. You have not escaped His notice.
Picture Him, seeing you. Searching all the crowd for yours.
Are you afraid?
The woman was afraid, she came forward, trembling. I think she was terrified. She came trembling and fell down before Him.
Picture the expression on Jesus’ face as He looked down on her. What do you think she found in His eyes? Judgement? Condemnation? Disgust?
Or mercy? Kindness? Love.
To the woman’s great surprise, He called her daughter. DAUGHTER.
Picture yourself, trembling and terrified, bringing your shame, your hurt, your need before Jesus.
What do you see in His eyes, as He sees you? What does He say to you?
Can you hear Him calling you daughter? Son?
Jesus sees you. He calls you son, He calls you daughter.
Are you surprised?