I remember the first ultrasound where we could tell things weren’t going according to “plan.” It was the event that thrust us into the roller coaster that was our youngest child’s pregnancy.
The day I read her story, her words because my desperate anthem, too.
On the north side of the Sea of Galilee, a large crowd gathers- all eager to see and hear from Jesus. He had just calmed the storm and healed the demoniac, so the word had spread and the expectancy was high.
On the seashore, Jesus begins to teach. As He is teaching, the crowd parts as they make way for a significant leader in the community, Jairus. Word starts to trickle back to the far corners of the crowd that Jairus has asked Jesus to come immediately to heal his dying daughter. The crowd moves with Jesus- crushing in on all sides. People are literally shoulder to shoulder- becoming uncomfortably familiar with the hygiene of the individuals they are sharing space with.
It is on this crowded journey from the shore to Jairus’ house that we meet her. We don’t know her name, but there are a few things we gather about her story from Luke and Mark. She has suffered for twelve years from an issue of blood – many believe it was a uterine hemorrhage. Can you imagine how she must have felt physically? Weakened, tired, and in constant pain. Because of this issue, she was ceremonially unclean according to Leviticus 15. This meant she was isolated and lonely- everything and everyone she touched was deemed unclean. Mark (5:26) also gives us a window into the efforts she had gone to in attempting to find healing… nothing helped (in fact, it made it worse) and it drained her finances. Think: end, end, end, very end of her rope.
As the crowd throngs around her on this journey to Jairus’ house, she comes discreetly pushing her way through the crowd. This was her last best hope, so even though this had to be like climbing a mountain for her physically (and emotionally), she pushed forward anyway.
Mark (5:28) reveals her belief:
“If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.”
She finally pushed far enough through an aggressive crowd in a way that didn’t draw attention to herself (Luke 8:47). As she comes behind Jesus, she reaches out her trembling hand in faith, and it touches the very edge of his garment.
Immediate. Healing. In that moment, the pain was gone. The flow of blood stopped. She felt healed.
And now friend, for the best part. I know, it seems like the best part is that she was finally healed, but it gets better!!
Jesus stops. And he turns around. “Who touched me?” He asks.
People around Him begin to deny that it was them, and I imagine our friend stood there quietly, eyes downward, hoping for the moment to pass quickly. Peter and the disciples remind Jesus that the crowd is pressing in, after all.
“Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from 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.”
This part captivates me. He looks around. Now, He is Jesus. Of course He knew exactly who it was. I imagine His gaze caught her attention. I imagine the look in His eyes was a knowing love that invited her vulnerability. And vulnerable she came in all her fear and trembling. At His feet, she falls and tells him “the whole truth.”
Luke and Mark don’t share exactly what she shared as the “why” behind touching Jesus. But, after she had completed revealing her story, Jesus renames her.
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Daughter. Not outcast, not unclean, not unlovable, not less important than Jairus and his need. He called her His, and that changes everything.
Her faith- her “end-of-her-rope” “this-is-all-I’ve-got-left” kind of hope … this faith in Jesus is what brought about her healing. Her faith moved the heart of heaven. Her determination to get just as close as she could brought her before the presence of the Only one Who could bring about the renewal of every bit of her.
By declaring her healed in front of the crowd, He was reinstating her in the community. Not only that, His declaration of healing and peace brought her into communion with Him – the one Who knew her story even better than she could articulate. It reassigned everyone’s perceptions and thoughts about who she was and her value… including, and perhaps especially, her own view of herself.
As quickly as this moment occurred, the crowd swept onward to Jairus’s home. But I tend to linger with her. Wondering what might have been stirring in her soul. Were the waves of the love she just experienced crashing over her thirsty heart? Was her new name reverberating in her ears? For the first time in 12 years, she was walking home having been seen, healed, and whole. Free in every way.
I remember sitting in my mini-van in the parking lot of the hospital, feeling less than free. One hand resting on my child in my pregnant belly, the other hand holding my phone while I started reading out of my Bible app. I couldn’t even see what book of the Bible or chapter I was in. I just was reading… Searching for Him in this moment, trying to get as close as I could. Her desperate faith was beautiful to me, and I could feel the tensions her soul was navigating as she made her way through the crowds.
So, I made my soul fight its way through the weariness, the questions, the statements of impossibility… all because I knew I needed to get just as close as I could to Him.
But the truth, friend?
He was already close. He saw me all along. My eyes merely needed to meet His gaze. To tell Him the whole truth. To recall that I’m not another face in a crowd. To receive the renaming, the reinstating, and the covering of peace.
After this encounter with Jesus, our friend returned home entirely transformed, and Jesus showed us more of who He is. When we encounter Jesus, nothings stays the same. This week, I invite you to push through the things that are “crowding” your days. May your eyes meet His gaze, and may you receive your name with joy. May your communion with Him and His people be sweet as you go out covered in a peace that transcends all understanding (Phil. 4:7).