Jesus healing women
The hemorrhaging woman (Luke 8:50-56)
Imagine the jumble of emotions Jairus was experiencing, as Jesus took time to search the roiling crowd for the person who had touched him. Imagine Jairus’ outrage to see the crowd part as an obviously destitute woman, in her threadbare clothes, approached. Did it slowly dawn on him as he realized who she was? Did he recognize her as the one who had been untouchable for twelve years? Did he shrink back in horror, when he remembered what sort of malady she had been suffering from, daily hemorrhaging, the issue of blood?
Jews made a great deal about cleanliness, because God had, when He gave the Books of the Law to Moses. Blood was of greatest importance, according to the Lord,
“‘I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood.”
“‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.”
“‘Anyone, whether native-born or foreigner, who eats anything found dead or torn by wild animals must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be ceremonially unclean till evening; then they will be clean. But if they do not wash their clothes and bathe themselves, they will be held responsible.’”
These were strong words, from God, and His instructions about blood and uncleanness did not stop with the blood of animals. God also dealt with the issue of blood from women,
“‘When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. Anyone who touches them will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.”
Jairus, as the synagogue ruler, would have been particularly aware of who was clean, and who was unclean. Now, this woman had touched Jesus, and ceremonially, that would make Jesus unclean, and unfit, to touch Jairus, or anything—anyone—in Jairus’ household, for an entire day. By this seemingly random act, by an impoverished and unclean woman, the very lowest of the low in Jewish society, Jairus’ own daughter’s rescue from the jaws of death would be compromised.
Imagine Jairus, outraged, wounded, horrified, mortified, as Jesus called this woman—a pariah in every way—“daughter,” as Jairus own daughter lay dying, and now seemingly out of reach of the Healer’s touch. This devastating, completely unforeseen, interruption seemed to have funneled God’s grace to the least deserving and profoundly unworthy creature, as Jairus and his family—most worthy and deserving, in every Jew’s eyes—was left bereft.
Necassarily, Jesus showed Jairus a truth that could hardly have been imagined, or even guessed at. Rather than becoming unclean by the touch of something, or someone unclean—a leper, a hemorrhaging woman, a dead person—Jesus would make the unclean clean again, fully restored to life, health, peace, joy, strength: Shalom. Jesus gave Shalom to all who received His touch in faith.
But, how? God revealed this ancient mystery in the same passage where He gave His warnings and commands concerning blood,
“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
Atonement would be needed for every person, ever, in the history of humankind, because of the insidious and infectious nature of sin. Moses warned if even one person secretly thinks to themselves, “’I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,’ they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.” Even one selfish thought, in one selfish heart, will bring disaster on an entire nation, so pervasive and destructive is sin.
The New Testament authors spoke often of the atoning, healing, restoring, life-giving work of Jesus’ blood.
Hebrews 9 explains the link between the Old Testament animal sacrifices, and Jesus’ powerful sacrifice on the cross, and in resurrection.
Peter brought out the profound mystery of what happens in the spiritual realm because of Jesus’ physical ministry and work.
James revealed the inexorable result of sin, if left unchecked.
Jairus was seeing all these themes converge before his very eyes. Sin, when full grown, brings corruption and death, and here was a woman who, unclean and dying, was the very metaphor of the corruption and death brought on by sin. Yet instead of being made tragically unclean Himself, Jesus, by His divine, mighty, wonder-working power, not only remained clean, He made the woman clean as well, whole, pure, alive, and saved in every way—physically and spiritually transformed from death to new life.
Jairus’ daughter did die, as Jesus was declaring life and salvation to the healed woman standing before them. By dying, Jairus’ daughter would make the whole household unclean, moving this young girl seemingly beyond the reach of healing. Jairus would need this experience with Jesus and the faith of the hemorrhaging woman, to believe in the otherwise utterly impossible; that Jesus really is the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in Him will live a new life
All passages taken from the New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.