“And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said,
“Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Luke 8:43-48 (NIV)
In this passage, we find Jesus surrounded by a large crowd of people traveling to Jairus’ home. Jairus, a religious leader in the community made an urgent request for Jesus to heal his ailing daughter. Jesus, while pressing through the thick crowds on the way to Jairus' home, encounters a woman with a unique need.
In the text, the woman is not named. She is only known as “a woman who had been subject to bleeding…”. You see, in the culture of the day anyone, and especially a woman, who had this type of illness was considered a social outcast. Because she was thought to be “unclean”, she would not have been invited to community gatherings or even been spoken to by name because, after all, people were aware of her diseased state.
Scripture tells us she has suffered from this illness for twelve years. Twelve years…a long time of visiting doctor after doctor with hopes of finding a cure. And, an immensely long time to live in the isolation and loneliness her culture demanded.
And yet, somehow, from the depths of all she has experienced - this day, the day Jesus is walking through her town - she finds enough courage to give hope another chance and proceeds to approach Jesus. Can you imagine the feelings she must have experienced while slowly, but persistently making her way through the crowd? Desperate for healing, she pushes the voices of rejection aside and courageously grasps only the bottom edge of His robe. And then...it happened. What she waited twelve long years to happen, miraculously became a reality when she was healed by Jesus' healing power.
“Who Touched Me?”, Jesus asks the crowd. I imagine a sudden silence falling over the multitude of people while Jesus waited for an answer. Even the disciples were perplexed. Interrupting the hushed crowd, the unnamed woman reluctantly speaks up as she lay trembling at His feet while explaining her desperate need. Notice that Jesus does not respond with immediate shaming or giving "what you should have done" cliches. Instead, He honors her by healing her and then giving her identity by calling her “daughter”. She rises from the ground and stands before Jesus as one who is now healed, noticed, and named.
He Notices Her…
In the text, shortly after his garment has been touched, we are told that the woman tried to go away unnoticed. It is easy to imagine that after years and years of being sidelined over her illness, she was quite accustomed to being invisible. The rejection she faced for years easily communicated that she, nor her presence had value. And yet…Jesus noticed her. You see, surrounded by the disciples, the large crowd that had gathered and all the religious leaders – Jesus intentionally stops and calls her forth from the shadows.
Have you ever felt invisible to God or to other people? Have you ever wondered if He really sees what you are going through? Or maybe, you’ve thought that God was preoccupied with bigger situations that were obviously much more important than your seemingly insignificant need? After all, there are major concerns such as COVID, mask debates, hand sanitizer wars, not to mention illnesses, floods, storms, and poverty, to name a few distracting causes. With all the other “really important” needs of this world, it can be tempting to believe that God is simply too busy to notice your requests. Maybe, with all the extensive needs of the global population, is a massive "to-do-list" in Heaven to help God keep up! And, this list certainly must prioritize the critical needs extending all the way down to the “this one can wait a while” requests. Or similarly, it might seem like there is a huge Heavenly grocery list of items that must not be forgotten versus the things He may choose to add-on while standing in the check-out line.
If we even subtly believe this, where exactly do our needs align with all the critical needs of the rest of the world? How can our need for help with a family relationship stack-up against a world pandemic? And, how does this speak to our sense of relational priority within the very heart of God? You see, with this subtle mindset, we can begin to feel quite unimportant or even unnoticed by God.
In this encounter, Jesus stops. In fact, he stops everyone and everything in order to recognize the one who touched his robe. He intentionally called for the person to be revealed and did not move until they came forth. The very same person who tried to quietly leave the scene without even being noticed was the very same one He noticed, and he wanted to crowd to notice also.
He Names Her…
Jesus doesn’t stop with miraculously healing the woman's physical ailment. You see, she could have left the scene with her physical healing and she would have been unbelievably thankful! And yet, Jesus knew that if this were her only healing, she would walk away only partially whole. Yes, her physical body was in need of healing, but what else did she need? He saw something much deeper within her spirit that she longed for…a sense of belonging. With this insight, He then reached past the physical need and spoke to this unnamed place of longing and calls her “daughter”. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace”. Daughter - one who belongs to someone. The one who is noticed. This is the first and only time Jesus refers to anyone in scripture as “daughter”. With one sentence, Jesus places her in a place of belonging in the community and even greater still, a place of belonging within His heart.
As I read this encounter, I reflect back into my own life and recall moments in prayer where, like the woman in the passage, I only grasped at the very edge of His robe. In these times, I would actually say, “Lord, if you would only do this one thing….”. In fact, I have uttered these words more times than I can even recall. What this prayer-approach reveals is a misunderstanding within my own heart where I share only the bare essentials and I’m not even considering the “what else” areas as a possibility. It's much like asking a really busy friend for a favor rather than coming before my Father who always has time for me and by the way, happens to have limitless resources. And, much like the woman's encounter, Jesus always looks deeper within and asks, "What else do you need ?"
As daughters and sons, we must remember that God doesn’t “do favors" for us when he responds to the needs within our lives. He’s never too busy. His checklist is not prioritized by bigger, more important world events, and our needs aren’t shuffled to the bottom of the list under the “when He can get to it” category. No, not at all. You see, in the Father's care over our lives, there actually is no list. He doesn’t need a check-list reminder because it is impossible for Him to forget anything about us.
In this text, Jesus stops and waits for the woman to respond to his call, “Who Touched Me?” In other words, “Who is it that is in need of healing, and what is the need?” You see, He wanted to know her..the "who" behind the encounter. He waited until she shared her story and he wasn’t pressed for time as he listened. He didn’t ask the disciples to handle her issue or shuffle her off to one of the Synagogue Priests. Instead, Jesus, himself, listened intently as she shared years of her struggle with him. He then healed her with both her physical needs being met and healed "what else she needed" by speaking into her very sense of belonging by calling her "daughter".
He also asks us, "What else do you need?"
This beautiful encounter with Jesus contains a word meant for us today. Jesus wants to remind us that indeed, He notices. In fact, there’s nothing He doesn’t already know about our lives. Every trial, every worry, every victory, every defeat, and even those things that are simply a whisper in our hearts – He knows and He cares about each and every one. He is not too busy nor is he distracted by "bigger" events. He doesn’t have a checklist with our desires at the very bottom of the stack. We don't have to be satisfied with only the bottom hem of His robe. He draws near when we call, He leans in and remains close with every step we take and always has his arms extended inviting us in to be understood and loved. And like the woman in this story, He waits for us to share the needs within our life – both the essential and the “what else” desires of our heart.
Friends, I would love to know how I can pray for you in the season you are currently experiencing. Please share your prayer requests with me through our Contact Form so I can partner with you in praying for both the essential and "what else" desires waiting to be fulfilled.
You are loved. You are seen. You are treasured-