And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” (Luke 8:45-46)
It is often in desperation that we find the courage to what we would otherwise not even think of. It must have been so for this poor woman, with an issue of blood, who knew full well the consequences should she be discovered. Yet, having spent everything she had seeking a cure for condition, she recognised that this moment was her single opportunity to receive the healing she desperately needed.
In our modern era with it’s absence of morality or even often of conscience, it’s hard for us to fully comprehend her predicament. For twelve years, she effectively lived as a total outcast – unclean by both social rules and religious law. We can only imagine what this must have been like, and then still know that, if she was found in the crowd – not to mention having the audacity to reach out and touch the hem of His garment, which was absolute taboo – she would have been subject to the most rigorous punishment.
How she must have trembled as she crept through the crowd, trying to remain unnoticed. With so many people thronging her Saviour, it couldn’t have been easy. Then she had to find a way to get right down to the level of His hem. But her faith was such that she knew, if she could only touch His hem, she would be healed. From her desperation came faith, and from her faith came courage. Her simple action changed her life, for she did indeed receive her healing.
But in this story we see a glimpse of another, deeper truth. Instead of being able to creep away, keeping her joy and transformation to herself, Christ stops and asks who touched Him. Even the disciples were confused – with so many crowding close, many were touching Him so seemed a foolish question. Yet – and here is the beautiful truth – Christ knew that someone had drawn on His power to heal. Our healing, in whatever form it comes, does not go unnoticed by Him. He is acutely and intimately aware of every single thing He does to impact our lives.
The full mercy and compassion of Christ is so wonderfully revealed in this story. He could, of course, knowing her situation as He must have done, let her simply creep away. But Jesus knew she required a healing that went far deeper than the spiritual healing she had received. He knew she had been judged and condemned. He knew she had lived, for twelve years, as a total outcast. She was no doubt wounded and rejected, enduring the deep pain of an existence in which she was utterly worthless and unwanted.
Because of this, Jesus knew she needed something far more. She needed to be restored to a complete sense of her worth in Him. His response to this deep, aching need is contained in a single word. He calls her ‘daughter.’ What an incredible act of restoration. In a moment, she is accepted into His family. She identifies with a love and acceptance that supercedes that of the community. He establishes her as wanted, as a worthwhile member of society. He overturns the social and religious laws and grants her an honoured place in the family of God.
It is a deeply touching moment, a revelation of the grace and mercy of a loving Father. And it reminds us that He does not want us creep up behind Him, broken down by our unworthiness, scrambling for the crumbs under the table or a single snatch at His garment as He moves on. He wants to stop and speak with us. He wants to acknowledge us as those who have faith in Him. He wants to recognise us as children of God, and for society to see it too.
Most of all, He doesn’t want us to be content with a kind of furtive reaching for the full life He has to offer. We don’t have to surreptitiously reach out for what He has freely given. His life is not something we get ‘in passing.’ He desires that we meet with Him face to face, that we stop an speak with Him, that we give Him the time and the opportunity to work His transformation in us. Physical healing is a great and wonderful gift. Emotional healing is also a gift of grace. But full restoration means the life of Christ released and outworked in us. That takes time.
It also takes courage. The Bible tells us that this woman returned to Him in fear and trembling. Yet in His presence she found the courage to be honest, to tell Him who and what she was, even knowing that she faced punishment. But such is the love of Christ, that He reached out and covered Her with His own acceptance, despite her fear and despite her circumstances. This is the power of the life of Christ in us. When we find the courage to really seek Him, He will always respond, meeting needs we perhaps aren’t even aware we have. Faith and humility, together with complete honesty before Him, will always bring more than we expect.
He is, after all, the God of exceedingly, abundantly, far more than we could ever ask or imagine. Christ has already given the all, but what we receive is in direct proportion to our relationship with Him. The transforming life of Christ within us cannot be measured. It transcends so many of the things we think we need. It is so much bigger than our frail and fleshly selves. Why settle for only touching the hem of His garment when we be a ‘new creation,’ and even wear the robe of His righteousness through His new life released in great measure with each moment we spend with Him?
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your infinite love, mercy and compassion. Thank You that you see deeper within, that You look past the surface and know better than we do what is needed in our lives. Grant us faith and humility to come to You just as we are, in complete honesty and thankfulness. Help us to never be satisfied with simply a fleeting touch but to seek You always, to draw near and to love You with the life You have given.