Today’s Reading: Luke 8:40-56
I personally have this difficult to explain love / hate relationship with crowded locations.
For me, it’s about those moments when the panorama which unfolds simply takes your breath away, ‘blocking out’ the people who break the solitude and peace of those who might cut across your space; when the emotion of the moment is beyond describing or putting into words; when the purpose of being in a particular location is beyond reason, especially when it entails being in such a crowded location that being shoulder to shoulder with strangers or being bodily crushed pails into insignificance to the moment.
And those moments for me, probably don’t even go close to describing that moment in time when the women in our reading today, worked her way (struggling) through the crowd to simply ‘touch Jesus’ robe. I know our reading is about two significant, intertwining stories which touch on the power of Christ to heal, but the faith of the women for me drew on a number of significant faith moments.
‘But as he went, the multitudes thronged Him. Now a women, having a flow of blood for twelve years , who spent all her livelihood on physicians and could be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment.’ Luke 8:42b – 44a
Setting the scene, there was certainly a large crowd invading Jesus’ personal space (so to speak) and it would appear that there was not much individual room to manoeuvre; ‘the multitudes thronged him’. Added to this was the pressure of urgency surrounding Jairus’s daughter’s health / death.
But the alignment of faith to the power of God is very powerful in this short glimpse into the character of Jesus and the power that can only be found in Him.
For the nameless women, her health issues would have deemed her religiously ‘unclean’ according to Jewish law, therefore her very public approach and desire to physically touch Jesus in belief that this would heal her, is quite profound. Why?
Firstly the story is of a women with an incredible faith, who boldly steps out not in foolish or irrational hope, but rather because she believed profoundly that Jesus didn’t need to even engage with her to heal her; a compassionate Jesus with the incredible power to know the different between the touch that comes from being in a crowd (which he was) and the single touch of women who was part of that same crowd, but whose belief stripped the jostling away.
Secondly, there is the fact that she was healed, even before Jesus verbal acknowledgement of her. How easy it could be to assume that Jesus power just flowed without his knowledge. I wonder what it would have been for both Jesus and the women at that moment; a breathtaking moment when Jesus reaction was one of responding (and he would have known without asking) to the faith which he knew without doubt, to be present in the moment.
And what a significant moment to call her forward; not to reprimand; not to admonish, but rather to acknowledge with gentleness her healing of a stigma which was also about restoring her dignity and position in society (one which previously would have been all about exclusion).
Who touched me?
Jesus ministry involved very much an engagement with the sick; yes this was about a healing which resulted in physical restoration but Jesus ministry was and is about a healing which has eternal consequences.
What beautiful words from the ultimate surgeon;
‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’ Luke 8:48
Yes, the women in our story had to seek Jesus at a moment in time when she knew he would be passing by in a crowd, after 12 years of living a life of struggle. But for you and I, we have the unique ability to know we don’t have to struggle against the multitudes to attract Jesus attention; to battle to reach out in anticipation of touching his robes …
‘But the man who loves God is known by God.’ 1 Corinthians 8:3