There’s a well known story in the Bible, about a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years. She came to Jesus from behind, secretly touched the hem of His garment, and was healed. It seems like a simple story, but there’s much going on beneath the surface that you might not be aware of. When we examine the story, we find that both Jesus’ and the woman’s behaviors seem strange, until we understand the religious and cultural context of Israel back then. And in finding that key, we will come to see what is really the most important part of the story. First let’s take a look at what actually happened.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.
And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.
She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.”
And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?”
And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’”
And he looked around to see who had done it.
But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.
And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” – Mark 5:24-34
The scene is one of near chaos, as crowds throng around the Savior. Just previous to our excerpt, a Jewish synagogue leader named Jairus had come up to Jesus and fallen at His feat, pleading with Him to come and heal his young daughter who was dying. The girl was fading fast, and Jairus was uptight and in a hurry, so Jesus tells him “fear is useless; only believe”, and they start off to the girl. But then this woman with a chronic bleeding problem comes up from behind, touches Jesus’ cloak and is healed. Jesus senses that power has gone out of himself, and, despite Jairus’ desperation, stops and makes an issue of it. The disciples are incredulous – with all the people thronging around, many of them must have been touching Jesus. So what’s the big deal? But Jesus is intent on finding the person who was healed. Finally, the woman comes in great fear and falls to the ground trembling before Jesus, telling all. Jesus blesses her and continues on His way with Jairus.
There are some interesting questions here. Why did the woman come up to Jesus from behind? If she wanted a healing, why did she even from the outset intend on only touching Jesus’ garments rather than His person? Why did Jesus make an issue of this healing, when almost certainly many people in this vast crowd must have similarly been coming up, touching Him and being healed? And lastly, why did the woman finally come forward in fear and trembling, rather than with joy and exaltation at being healed of her long-standing disease? Indeed, the Gospel of Luke expands on why the woman even come forward at all:
And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. -Luke 8:47
According to Luke, the woman was not merely lost in the crowd, she was actually hiding in that crowd! What then was this woman so afraid of?
Via HotAir.com, here’s an update on the Jenny Sanford story. She just announced she is divorcing her adulterous husband. In Forgiveness vs. Reconciliation, I used her example to illustrate the critical Biblical difference between these two concepts. While we must forgive, reconciliation depends on repentance.
Sanford’s statement today, and the video interview, illustrates grace and class once again. She tried repeatedly to reconcile – true reconciliation does not violate moral principles. She delayed going public with the divorce news so that it wouldn’t influence the impeachment proceedings active against her husband. She admits the pain she experienced, but she draws a line between being a victim and rooting her identity in victimhood, the latter being satan’s enfeebling trap (see Jeremiah’s Complaint). Root your identity in God, and life’s blows will not keep you down.
“Life is pain, princess; anyone who says differently is trying to sell you something”. That nugget is from the classic The Princess Bride. While it is true that we should expect pain, we have the option to respond to life’s challenges and overcome with truth and grace. When we do, we are free. God is glorified in and through us, His purposes for us are restored and we know the joy of His presence. And once our attitudes are out of the way, if any wrong was done to us, God is more free to work repentance into the wrongdoer (Job 42.7; Mat 16.19).
Jenny’s statement and video follow.
I came across this this morning. You may be aware that South Carolina’s governor had been playing the bad boy and was found out. His wife just came out with a public statement, and despite the pain and anger she must be going through, it is refreshingly morally clear.
She’s definitely not a doormat. And she doesn’t seem to be the “I’ll stand by my man because it’s good career calculus” type (I’ll refrain from citing an example…).
Its abundantly clear that she first of all has a God perspective. And she has a handle on a very significant distinction that so many don’t get: forgiveness is not reconciliation.
Forgiveness in mandatory, because we are neither competent nor called to judge the secrets of men’s hearts in this life. But reconciliation is conditioned on repentance and the willingness to work at rebuilding trust, upon which sincere relationship is built.
God rightly demands that we forgive others if we want to remain in His good graces. Otherwise, we set ourselves up as God, judging others. But He also warns us against casting pearls before swine. In other words, be free of judgment and bitterness, but be careful whom you trust. God cares about His temple, which is us, and He wants it protected from defilement.
The only way to accomplish this is to separate forgiveness from reconciliation. Those who fail to do so run a dual risk. They can either withhold forgiveness because they fear the inappropriate reconciliation they think it will necessarily lead to, or they go ahead with the forgiveness and reconciliation. In the first case they harbor unforgiveness, and in the second they become unequally yoked in an abusive relationship. Either of these lead to spiritual disaster.
But if we forgive from the heart and then judge reconciliation as a separate issue, we keep our hearts free from both bad internal and external influences. And that is the very “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” kind of wisdom the Lord has enjoined us to practice.
Ms. Sanford sounds like a Proverbs 31 woman to me, with godly integrity. Kudos. Here’s her statement: