Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Leading Ladies: The Woman with the Flow of Blood

Mark's account (5:25-34) of the woman with the flow of blood and Luke's, the physician, account (8:42-48), offer us two very unique vantage points on this story. I'd like to start by making a list of the things we learn about this woman from the texts:

  • She'd had a flow of blood for 12 years.
  • She'd spent all of her livelihood on doctors' bills. 
  • She wasn't getting better; she was actually getting worse!
  • She knew that even Jesus' clothes could heal her.
  • She came forward, even though she was afraid. 
  • She was healed. 
Now, let's think back to all we know about the old law. Leviticus 15:25 tells us this:
"If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other that at the time of her customary impurity, or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean."
 Think about the words that this woman has heard every single day for twelve years: you are unclean. Not only was she unclean, but everything she sat on or slept on or touched became unclean (v. 26-27). How many friends do you think she had? Probably not many devout Jews. None of them would want to be close enough to be touched by her and thus rendered unclean.

What a lonely life this woman must have had! How desperate she must have been! The text says that she went to many doctors and spent all of her livelihood trying to find a cure--and nothing had worked! So now she's unclean and poor....and a woman. How highly was she favored in society?

Then one day, she hears about a Man who may be the Messiah. Instead of sitting at home alone like she probably did most days, she sought Him out. And not only did she seek Him out, but she believed with her whole heart that even the hem of His robe could cleanse her and change her entire life.

Jesus praises her faith, and when Jesus praises something, it's probably something we should try to apply to our own lives. So what exactly can we learn from this desperate woman?

1: She wanted to be clean. This woman could have stood back, away from the crowds, and watched Jesus pass by. Sure, she had an interest in what He could do for her, but she wasn't really interested in getting close enough to be healed. Thankfully she wasn't like this! She sought Him out and in return was healed because of her faith! We cannot be people who stand on the sidelines, interested in what Jesus has to say but only if we can keep Him (and His commands) at arms length. Instead, we must be people who seek to be spiritually clean. We must flee from sin, and involve ourselves only in those things which promote purity. Had this woman not had the interest in becoming clean, she wouldn't have been made well. Unless we seek spiritual cleanliness, our Savior's blood will not wash us.

2: She went after Jesus. This woman didn't wait for Jesus to knock on her door; she went out into a multitude--no doubt the same group of people who often teased her and made her feel like less than a person for being unclean all the time--and found the One who could heal her. There are going to be times when serving Jesus means we have to get out of our comfort zones and come face to face with the people who have teased us and made us feel bad. Like this woman, though, we must be willing to follow Jesus in every circumstance.

3: She didn't let her condition get her down. If this plagued woman had let her situation keep her down, she never would have met the Savior and she never would have been healed. Likewise, if we allow our less-than-ideal situations keep us from being active in the Lord's work, we're keeping ourselves from the Savior--from the Great Physician. Instead of letting the broken pieces of our lives keep Jesus at a distance, we should be taking those pieces to Him so that He can make us whole.

Dan Winkler once said "Those who have been broken the most by life are the ones God has used to accomplish some of His greatest feats." It is only when we are broken that God can mold us into the person we were meant to become.

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