Blogging Towards Sunday, June 26 2011
This story within a story is one of my favorite Bible passages about Jesus. For me it’s so real, easily pictured in my imagination and carries such a clearly challenging message of the radical aspect of Jesus’ love, power and person.
Jesus is interrupted in the midst of doing his business. On his way to visit the dying daughter of a well-known religious leader, Jesus is interrupted by a nameless woman who audaciously touches him in the midst of a jostling crowd. His response must have been comical. Surrounded by throngs of people, Jesus asks aloud “who touched me?” Yet he’s insistent. The text tells us that she’s broken: physically as she’s be bleeding for 12 years, well beyond the normal timeline of a menstrual cycle. She’s broken financially as she’s been bankrupted seeking a medical solution. She’s broken personally and relationally, as she is considered unclean by the purity laws practiced by the Israelites (see Leviticus 12:7, 15:19-22 and 20:18), similar to how we treated those with AIDS in the 1980s and early 1990s. She’s looking for a quick fix, a remedy; yet Jesus won’t settle for just a band aid.
Jesus makes her come forward. He gives her a name, a new family, and a new life. He delivers her, healing her illness and also delivering her from the suffering and isolation of her condition. She isn’t just cured. She’s made whole. And then Jesus continues on his way to the home of Jairus, where he raises his sick 12 year-old daughter from the dead. He shows no preference for the privileged over the forgotten. He doesn’t lose focus, or get distracted. He doesn’t merely fix a problem, but heals the whole situation. He brings the forgotten back to life, delivers from the pain of isolation, challenges our notion of family. He asserts that it’s her faith – not his action – that has made her whole. What?
The text makes me wonder if I'm - or we're - as audacious as that nameless woman, desperate for freedom, healing and deliverance? Do I want to be made whole or do I settle for how I am?
Who are the bleeding women that I encounter in the crowds I walk through each day? Am I looking for them, or irritated when they bump into me, interrupting my to-do list for the day?
Is the Jesus that I follow this wild, surprising and authentic? Or do I settle for a simple, tame and possibly trite image of a healer who wants to improve life, as opposed to giving it?