Twelve years is a long time.
It’s a long time to wait. A long time to hope.
A long time to suffer.
We aren’t told exactly what the nature of her ailment was, but most assume that her “hemorrhage” was some type of menstrual disorder. Under Levitical law, a menstruating woman was regarded as ceremonially unclean (Leviticus 15:25). She was unclean–unable to enter the temple or participate in temple worship. As if that weren’t enough, her uncleanliness was contagious. Even the bed she slept on and the chair she sat on became unclean, and anyone who touched those objects became unclean.
What does that do to you when you live it for twelve years? Especially when your culture and community revolve around issues of cleanliness? First century Judaism emphasized issues of ritual purity beyond the dictates of Scripture. Many Jews purified themselves not just before entering the temple but before entering Jerusalem itself. Even laypeople commonly purified themselves before meals and before prayers. And for twelve years–twelve years–she could not get clean.
No wonder she “endured much” and “spent all she had” at the hands of the physicians (Mark 5:26). But nothing helped.
Until she met Jesus.
I wonder if she pulled her robes tighter and tried to hide her face as she pressed her way through the crowd that day. Did people recognize her and pull away, fearing her shame would rub off on them?
Did she try to avoid touching them because she believed it too?
And if we’re honest, don’t we believe it? Shame whispers in our ears that our failures show–that everyone would reject us if they knew the truth. So we pull on the gloves, lock the doors, and put on our brave face. Conceal. Don’t feel. Don’t let it show. No wonder that movie is so popular. Truth is, shame keeps us all frozen.
Shame makes us put on our masks. We hide our uncleanliness to keep others from seeing it, rejecting us, and magnifying our shame. When we hide, we miss out on grace.
If we continue to reach for masks, grace will not be essential to our lives; it will remain optional. As long as the masks remain, the loneliness remains. But when brokenness is acknowledged, grace is on the doorstep. (From Fail by J.R. Briggs.)
Grace was on her doorstep that day, and she reached for it with everything she had. She whose touch made things unclean reached out for Jesus and grasped the edge of his robe, believing that just a touch could make her clean. And miracle of miracles, her touch didn’t make Jesus unclean. Jesus made her clean.
Look what he says to her: “Daughter.” Daughter. From the very first word he erased her shame. Daughter. It’s a word of acceptance, approval, and affirmation. She came to him as a supplicant, and Jesus welcomed her as a child.
Isn’t that a portrait of God’s heart for us? Jesus didn’t come to shame us but to save us and to make us whole.
That’s what he did for her.
And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction” (Mark 5:34).
Your faith has made you well. The Greek word for “made you well” can also be translated “saved you,” or “made you whole.” What Jesus did for her he does for us–saves us, heals us, and makes us whole. All that’s required is for us to admit our brokenness and reach out for help. His grace meets us there.
Are you tired of living in shame’s lonely shadow? Has that secret–that burden–whatever it is–kept you prisoner, fearing what other people would say if they knew?
Have you been afraid God will reject you too?
If that’s you, then know this: Jesus will never turn you away. He is waiting to receive you. He’s standing at the door, waiting to shower you with grace that washes away all your shame.
Just take that first step. Touch him, and let him fold you in his arms.
And listen to what he calls you: Daughter.
Shame always flees the presence of the Savior.
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