Get comfortable. Relax by breathing in and out several times. Bend your neck back and forth and let your muscles relax. Try to let distractions pass by your thoughts. Be still.
Read and Reflect
You will read a harmony of Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:24–34, and Luke 8:43–48 in sections followed by questions to consider. If the story is familiar to you, set aside what you know about it and listen to each word with fresh ears as you read it out loud, slowly and contemplatively. Take time between each reading to pause and reflect.
I invite you to enjoy being discipled by the Holy Spirit. Pray: Oh God, send the Holy Spirit through the Word to reveal your words to me.
Then a woman who had suffered for twelve years from a hemorrhage heard about Jesus and came up in the throng behind him. This woman had suffered a great deal at the hands of the doctors, yet none of them could cure her. She had spent all she had and still was no better. In fact she had only become worse.
According to Levitical Law (Leviticus 15:25–27), a woman was unclean during her period or anytime she had a discharge of blood for many days. Anything she sat on or lay on was unclean and anyone who touched anything she sat on or lay on would also be unclean. Therefore, to protect themselves against defilement, Jewish men avoided touching, speaking to, or even looking at women.
Put yourself in the place of this woman. What do you see? What does the land look like? What does the air feel like? What smells are there? What colors do you see? What sounds do you hear? Who’s there? Where are they? Where are you standing? What are you doing? What are you thinking? What are you feeling? Where is Jesus? What is he doing? What is he feeling? Because you are unclean, no one has hugged you or touched you for years. How do you view yourself? How do you feel about doctors?
She touched the hem of Jesus’ robe because she told herself, “If only I can touch his clothes, I’ll be healed.”
Where are you getting the courage to touch this rabbi’s clothes?
Instantly the bleeding stopped and she could feel that she had been cured.
How does it feel in your body to have your illness gone in a flash?
At the same moment Jesus sensed that power had gone out from him. He turned around and said, “Who was touching me? Who touched my clothing?” Everyone denied it. Peter and the disciples who were with him said, “Master, you can see this huge crowd surrounding you—and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” “I know someone touched me,” Jesus answered, “because I sensed power leaving me.” He began looking at the crowd to see who had done this.
When you heard the words, “Who touched me?” what went through your mind? As Jesus looks through the crowd, do you want him to find you?
When the woman realized what had happened to her and saw that she couldn’t hide, she came to Jesus, frightened and trembling. She fell down before him and told him all the truth. She explained in front of everyone why she had touched him, and how she was instantly healed. Jesus said to her, “Take heart, daughter. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace, and be free from this affliction.”
How does it feel to tell the whole truth about your gynecological disorder in a group of Palestinian men? How does it feel to have Jesus—a rabbi who is not supposed to talk to women in public—call you by that endearing term, “daughter”?
What experiences of the woman do you most identify with?
- Been “unclean”
- Suffered many years
- Spent all you have to get better
- Instead of getting better, things have gotten worse
- Shattered dreams for normal life
- You have reached out in faith to the only hope you know
- Set free immediately from your suffering
- Had to explain your intimate suffering in front of a crowd, mostly men
- Called “daughter” by Jesus
- Respected and touched by Jesus even though others call you unclean
What feelings of the woman do you most identify with?
- Feeling “unclean”
- Being called “daughter”
- Sheer joy
Which of the woman’s actions do you need to imitate today?
- Reach out and touch Jesus despite your fear that your problems will keep you from him
- Identify yourself and your need to Jesus and maybe to the crowd
- Realize that it is your faith that heals you, not a “magical cloak”
Respond to God:
You may want to sit with your eyes closed or write for a while. Ask yourself, What is God saying to me? What do I want to say to God?
Form a short three-or-four-word prayer response to God, perhaps, ‘Thank you for…’ or, ‘Show me how…’
Spend some time in prayer talking to God about what he has revealed to you.
I’d love for you to share in the comments below what you sensed God saying to you. I’m praying for you.