Devotion for the Week...
I'm starting this one with a warning...this may fall into the realm of Too Much Information, so feel free to click away if you're uncomfortable. I won't be offended. Also, the vast majority of my readers are women, but if you are male and squeamish about talk of menstruation, you may not want to read any farther 😊
Still here? Great! Let's go!
I seem to have reached an age when my previously predictable monthly cycle has started to go a bit haywire. Specifically, I am now spotting almost every day, which is annoying as I'm sure you can imagine. It has, however, made me think a lot about one of the women in the Bible, known only as 'the bleeding woman'.
Her brief story is in Luke 8:43-48:
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.”
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.”
Obviously, we don't know much about this woman; no name or family information or anything. We only know that she had been bleeding for 12 years and that no one could heal her.
The law states, in Leviticus 15:19-23, that during her period a woman is unclean. Anything she lays or sits on is unclean. Anyone who touches anything she lays or sits on will be unclean. And anyone who touches her will be unclean. Then, in verses 25-27 it says that if a woman has any discharge of blood that continues beyond her regular period all the regular rules still apply until the bleeding stops for 7 consecutive days.
For me, this spotting-almost-every-day thing is annoying. It's irritating. But that's about it. For her it would have been truly, horrendously awful.
No one could touch her without becoming ceremonially unclean. For 12 years. Can you even imagine how lonely that must have made her? What would it be like to go even 1 month without a single hug, or pat on the back or even so much as a fist bump?
No one could heal her, the
Bible says. I wonder how many people she had been to for help. I wonder
how much money she had spent trying new treatments and if she had
given up hope.
Now picture her in a crowd of people, looking at a man they say can heal any disease. She's not supposed to touch Him, but she has tried everything else and He is her last hope. So she reaches out her hand and touches his clothing, believing that even just that much contact will be enough to stop the bleeding. And it worked! Immediately she knew that the bleeding had stopped.
But Jesus knew that power had left Him. He stopped and asked who touched Him. Imagine how scared she must have been. She wasn't supposed to touch Him. Obviously she tried to stay quiet and hoped He'd just shrug it off and move on, since Jesus had to insist that someone had touched Him, but eventually she had to come forward and tell her story in front of that whole crowd.
Was there a sharp intake of breath from the crowd when she admitted that she, an unclean woman, had touched Him? Could she feel judgement from people who thought she had done wrong? We don't know, because the Bible doesn't say.
What I love, though, is that it does tell us that there was no judgement from Jesus.
Jesus didn't care about keeping up appearances. He didn't care about following rules that made it harder to actually help people. He healed people on the Sabbath, even after being told off by the religious leaders for doing work when they felt He shouldn't have. And when this unfortunate woman admitted to touching Him, He simply commended her for her faith and told her to go in peace.
She could have let fear of condemnation and judgement hold her back. She could have stayed and just watched Him walk by. She could have continued on as she was, bound by her bleeding. But instead she reached out and touched the only One who could heal her.
What about us? Are there things we're avoiding bringing to Jesus because we're afraid He'll condemn us? Our uncleanness is not a physical or ceremonial thing, but there can be times when we avoid God because we're ashamed of what we've said/thought/done. We can come to Him freely, though, certain that there will be no judgement or condemnation, only acceptance and forgiveness. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1,2). Jesus went to the cross to take all of our sins. All of them. Even the ones we don't want to talk about, or the ones we think He can't ever forgive us for. He can handle it all. In fact, He already has.
We simply have to come to Him in faith and He will take away our uncleanness, giving us the same relief He gave the bleeding woman so long ago.