Becky Thompson – Central Women Ministry Pastor
It started out as a normal day. Normal for her, that is.
A beautiful woman, a child of God. With hopes and dreams, desires and a future. That is, until the bleeding started.
For 12 years she fought it, sought physicians, remedies and more. Nothing helped. She “spent all she had, yet instead of getting better, she grew worse.” (Mark 5:26).
Now today, she resigns herself to her new normal, a life of being physically sick, constantly; a life labeled unclean, socially unacceptable. She started today as she did every day.
I’m not sure where she actually dwelled, but history tells us, even if accepted by family, she is not fit to actually reside with them. Most likely she is cast out to a shack behind the family’s home… and that’s if she’s lucky.
“I’m cursed,” she tells herself. “I am unclean and unwelcome. I am unfit for relationship, for work, for having a life.” But such is life.
It’s been years. How is she still alive? Bleeding for twelve years. It’s a miracle. But even more miraculous is what comes next…
Jesus the Christ is near. Just on the other side of the Sea of Galilee to be exact. He’s traveling from village to village, often with swarms of crowds following Him, healing and preaching as He goes.
Today, as a matter of fact, He just healed a demon-possessed man. Casting out the demons from the man, sending them into a herd of pigs, while bystanders watched the nearly two thousand pigs rush over the cliff and into the water.
Losing a herd of pigs, a man’s livelihood, doesn’t typically sit well with villagers. In their shock of seeing this formerly demon-possessed man healed and the despair of watching the loss of the pigs, the townspeople plead with Jesus… “leave.”
So Jesus gets in a boat and heads across the lake to Magdala, a sprawling fishing village at the base of the eastern foothills of Mount Arbel.
Here, Jesus meets Jarius, a synagogue ruler. Flustered and in a hurry, Jarius pleads with Jesus, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” (Mark 5:23).
And Jesus went.
Walking through a cramped marketplace, people everywhere, crowds bumping into and pressing on Jesus, we see her.
She’s heard the bustle and she knows He’s here. This is her chance. She’s heard He heals, quite possibly just touching Him can heal someone.
“If I only….”
She says to herself, “If I only touch His clothes, I will be healed.” (Mark 5:28 BSB)
And so she does. Silently and discreetly, she makes her way, across the ground, through the busy and moving legs. Inching across the stone floor.
Risking her life, she stretches out her hand.
And then it happens. Immediately the bleeding stopped. She knows her body, and she knows, instantly, she has been healed of her suffering.
But just as quickly as she entered, she pulls back, inching backward to leave quietly, Jesus calls out, “Who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:30) And He looked around, searching, waiting for her to come forward.
Knowing she had been healed, and trembling with fear, she presents herself to Him.
“Daughter,” He says, “your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34)
And very suddenly, men enter the scene and call to Jarius. And Jesus, Peter, James, John and Jarius leave to tend to Jarius’ daughter.
I imagine the scene. She’s still kneeling there. The crowd that stopped to witness what happened returns to their hustling and bustling. How long does she stay there… processing?
She has a new life. No longer left cursed, an outcast, or untouchable.
I imagine after a few moments she recovers her bearings. Placing her hands on the cold floor, she steadies herself and slowly stands up, still bent over a bit, head hung low. And then, she smiles. She rolls her shoulders back, lifts her head high, plants her feet firmly on the ground. Perhaps she spins, turning a full circle, cautiously at first and growing with confidence.
One foot propels her forward, as she begins her new journey.
And now there’s me. And there’s you. How many times have we said to ourselves, “If I only…” only, never to follow the thought with action?
Too many I fear.
What if, instead of carrying the guilt, the shame or the labels from our past we simply reached out to Jesus?
He’s here, now, waiting. You don’t have to make grand gesture or crawl across the floor to get to Him. You don’t have to get your “stuff” together first. Even our friend stood there, still in blood stained clothes.
What if we accept His grace and love and then choose to live differently? To overflow with grace and walk in love with those around us? The marginalized, the outcast, the unclean, the rejected?
Because, isn’t it true, after an encounter with Jesus we will never be the same?