“But he was looking around to see who had done this. The woman, with fear and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. ‘Daughter,’ he said to her, “‘your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be healed from your affliction.’” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever been in the spotlight when you didn’t want to be there? Some people seek the spotlight relentlessly. They thrive off of people recognizing them. They really don’t care whether the attention is for good reasons or bad ones, they just want to be noticed. More—and I’d argue many more—are content to not be noticed. Sure, getting their 15 minutes of fame sounds thrilling, but only if it lasts 15 minutes. Other than that, they’re just fine being mostly invisible. This becomes especially true when they have some reason to hide. Well, this woman Jesus healed wanted to hide. Jesus called her to the spotlight. Let’s talk about why this was the best thing He could have done for her.
This whole little story-within-a-story is fascinating to me. It is so unexpected, and serves at one and the same time as both a contrast to, but also an echo of the larger story about the healing of Jairus’ daughter.
Here’s the recap: As Jesus was going with Jairus to his house to heal his daughter, and as a huge crowd was pressing up against them such that they could barely move, suddenly Jesus stopped dead. The ripples of this stop would have been like a car smashing its brakes in heavy traffic. The reason Jesus stopped was because He had felt some of His healing power go out from Him to someone in the crowd.
The disciples all thought He was losing His mind. Why are you asking who touched you? Everyone touched you! We’re completely surrounded by people. How on earth are we going to find a single person that touched you?
We don’t know how exactly she did it, but as Jesus looked around, a woman materialized out of the crowd and said that it was her. Then she told Him her story.
She had been suffering from bleeding for a dozen years. She’d done everything she could think of to try and find healing. She’d been to all the doctors there were, spent every last shekel to her name, and now she was broke and still suffering. She had heard about Jesus and thought that maybe if she could just anonymously touch His cloak, she could be healed.
What she didn’t add was this: She would have preferred to remain anonymous all things considered. Her shame was enormous because of the state she had been in for so long. Her bleeding would have left her unclean. She couldn’t be around anyone else. The law said she couldn’t be near God. No one wanted her. She had gotten used to that and didn’t want to be noticed anymore. It just saved her from the pain of explanation and then rejection.
And then Jesus called her into the spotlight.
Why would He do that? Couldn’t His divine insight take over and know that she just wanted to remain anonymous? This was exactly the kind of attention she didn’t want. Be that as it may, this was also exactly the kind of attention Jesus knew she needed.
Jesus could have responded to her in a lot of ways when she hesitantly stepped out from the crowd and acknowledged herself to Him. He could have scolded her, embarrassed her further, given her a backhanded compliment, joked about how she’d pulled a fast one on Him sneaking up like that, or something else along these lines. He could have made it worse for her.
But that’s not Jesus’ style. Look at what He did instead. He acknowledged her. He didn’t highlight her needlessly, He recognized her humanity. He was tender and compassionate with her. He gave her dignity and honor. He praised her for her great faith. He sent her off, asking nothing from her at all, with a blessing of peace.
Friends, this is who Jesus is. He said it Himself in Matthew 11:29: I am gentle and humble of heart. A great, recent book by Dane Ortlund explores this idea in wonderful and encouraging detail. It is worth your time to track down a copy and read it. Here’s an Amazon link to it. The simple truth about Jesus, though, is that He is compassionate and gentle with the broken. To the rejects of society He grants dignity and humanity. He gives rest to the weary. He brings healing to the hurting.
And this is not something just for someone else either. This is a truth for you. In your weakest moments, Jesus is ready to help. No matter what it is you’ve gotten yourself into, Jesus will come and carry you through it if you will let Him. You simply need to go to Him and receive Him. Like this woman, you can even go anonymously. He will receive you with love all the same. As we continue in this new year with all its new challenges coming, I hope you will.