This woman had a flow of blood or a problem with her menstruation it seems for the previous 12 years. This does not mean that she has been losing blood for 12 years straight. That would result in her death. This appears to be an intermittent problem that continued for 12 years. We must assume that her bleeding was linked to her menstrual cycle. If indeed our assumption (well ok, my assumption) proves to be correct then it sheds some more light on the text we have before us. Bleeding like that made this woman ceremonially unclean, a state she found herself in for 12 long years. The text and the words used infer that she had used all her resources to beat the problem. She sought every alternative there was but was still not healed. The use of the word [bios] suggests she had used up all her means. But this segment of the verse “who had spent all her means on physicians” has been left out of many Greek versions. The reason is it has very weak attestation to being genuine; most believe it has been copied from Mark’s version and inserted into Luke’s account in an attempt to harmonize the texts. But whatever the case, whether it’s in Luke or in Mark we are made aware that the woman had tried everything and exhausted her resources. Mark says in fact the problem just got worse.
Because of that she approached Jesus from behind. The reason being that she was unclean and should not have been anywhere near Him. Coming up from behind she must have figured that she could touch Him and in doing so she believed that His power to heal would still work in her favour. If she approached from the front her uncleanness was likely to be made known either by people who knew of her case or by Jesus himself. It was best to sneak up behind and touch Him. As we see in Acts, by touching handkerchiefs Paul had touched or having Peter’s shadow fall on you was enough to bring healing. So this woman’s purpose was not too wacky. So she sneaks in and touches Him or more correctly His garment. What exactly did she touch? There is much debate about this. The alternatives are
- the edge of His cloak or robe
- the border
- the hem
- the tassels on the Tallith or over-garment.
If it is the 4th option then there is every reason to think that touching one of the tassels on His prayer over-cloak would result in healing.
The moment she touched it her bleeding stopped. But much to her horror Jesus called her out on what she had done. Her worst fears were reality. She thought she could sneak in and no one would know. But Jesus knew. He said “Someone touched me”. The word He used doesn’t mean rubbed up against Him but touched Him with a purpose. But what if she only touched a tassel. Surely He wouldn’t know that. There is no feeling in a tassel. But Jesus knew. All others around denied touching Him, especially purposefully and they were likely right. Peter figures He meant pressing in and touching against Him. Jesus says again, “No, someone really touched me with a purpose and power has gone out from Me.” Isn’t that interesting, Jesus didn’t purposely touch her to heal her, but she purposely touched Him to be healed and He knew it – Wow. Seek to touch Him with a purpose people and your prayers will be answered.
The woman was so afraid. She hoped she would escape notice but now finds herself exposed in front of everyone. She came trembling and bowed down in front of Him and confessed to her plan and motivation, what she did and what happened. There it was, all laid out there. “And furthermore I was healed instantly” she says. That is amazing. The next thing Jesus says is fascinating. “Daughter [of Israel] go in peace, your faith has made you well.” He legitimizes all she has done. Effectively Jesus says, “It’s your faith that healed you, not touching my prayer tassel or the hem or border of my robe. It was your faith. Effectively you get to keep your healing. All that you have wanted is yours.” In making this statement it effectively seals her healing and frees her from her ceremonial uncleanness. If this matter were handled properly according to law after she had been healed by a doctor, by prayer by whatever way effectively cured her, she would have to go and tell the priest. She would be examined and then when it was confirmed she had been healed she would be declared clean again. She would no longer be ceremonially unclean, but it all had to happened publicly so that all knew her uncleanness was lifted. This is effectively what has just happened. Her public confession of her motivation, plans, actions and results had secured her release from ceremonial uncleanness. All quite remarkable. Moral of the story: deal with your issues up front and in the open. Don’t take the sneaky route.
Rather than focus on quotes related to menstruation I decided to focus on the grandkids. (The family are winging their way to us as I write.) Besides I don’t have any quotes on menstruation.
Your children get only one childhood.
(But playing with your grandchildren allows you a second childhood)Ian Vail
If I’d known grandchildren were so much fun I’d have had them first.Ian Vail
I have no problem playing like a big kid; I are one. Besides, you’re just jealous; wanna come over?Ian Vail
When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of being thought childish.C S Lewis
Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your kids.Ian Vail
You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.
(Thanks for the advice Jessica!)Jessica, age 8
In times of trouble we cry, “God, give us men to match our mountains.” God gives us children and says, “Here’s the building material.”Bob Gass