She probably wasn’t much to look at, at least that is the way I read the story. I mean, she had this bleeding for twelve years, now she was living in poverty, and it doesn’t seem that too many people are paying much attention to her. Understandable. But it makes me wonder how many people have been “bleeding” for twelve years right in front of my eyes without me even noticing. I would probably be devastated by the answer to that question.
In her culture, she would be considered “unclean.” That would mean professing her uncleanness to everyone in the streets and, if by chance, anyone came in contact with her, they would also be considered unclean. You can probably picture people backing away with eyes fixated on her every time she went anywhere, as if to say, “Please don’t come near me.”
With so much attention on Jesus that day, she was able to bring herself close...extremely close. But, there is a part of the story that the text doesn’t tell. You see, the hem of the garment was considered the holiest part of someone’s clothing. They wore tassels on the hem of the corners that identified them with service to God and obedience to God’s laws (Numbers 15:37-41). So the hem of the garment was what identified an individual with God. It was the place that represented authority, identity, and status.
Here is this woman, as good as dead. She has been outcast from society. She can have no physical contact with her children even. She has been in this prison for twelve years. Now she has nothing...literally nothing to her name. But she knows the only answer to her disease is in the identity and authority of Jesus. If she can only disguise herself and sneak even just a hand to the place of that authority, the place where the Son of God carries His identity.
The great faith that Jesus applauded? This woman knew to touch anyone else would make them unclean, anyone except Him, the One who can never be made unclean. His power over uncleanness was greater than the power of uncleanness over Him. That’s pretty incredible faith.
So I imagine, she covered her face to not be recognized, maybe even got low to the ground, and fought her way through the crowd that, Luke says, “almost crushed Him.” And somehow, she got a hand to the Authority...the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. The One whose identity is perfectly in unity with God the Father. And, while all these others are pressing in on Him, some even doubting and questioning who He really was, she spends every ounce of energy she has left, and in desperation, just grabs a hold of the representation of His identity.
Wouldn’t you know, twelve years of bleeding...stopped. Twelve years of searching. Twelve years of uncleanness and isolation...stopped in a moment. And what is more interesting to me, is that Jesus Himself is completely unaware, as He turns and asks, “Who touched Me?” She wasn’t healed by Jesus in that moment, but by God. It’s as if, God was watching all along. He was noticing this woman’s suffering and He was also noticing her pursuit of Jesus. He knew her faith. He knew her understanding. And He honored it.
And I think that is so awesome. We don’t have to wait to see Jesus face to face. We don’t have to live in our suffering. We just have to recognize and seek the One who has the power over all uncleanness. Our pursuit of the One who can heal, transform, and restore will be noticed and will be honored.
I know it isn’t usually our instinct. I know it’s not the answer for our self-reliant culture. But my prayer is that we would know where to turn when we are alone, everything taken away, bleeding. There is One who holds the power over all uncleanness. There is One who cares when no one else seems to. There is One who is able above all else. There is healing for your bleeding. You just have to seek it...and grab hold.
All my hope is in Jesus. He is the answer.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).