In Luke 8: 43-44 we encounter a story of an unnamed woman who finds a way to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment as He was walking through the crowd.
This woman had been bleeding for twelve years and no one had been able to heal her. When she touched Jesus’ garment, the bleeding stopped.
Jesus knew it. He felt power leave His body and He asked “Who touched me?”
What is the significance of this small touch other than the miracle of healing the woman so quickly?
First of all, according to the Christianity Today Website, January 2010, a woman menstruating in the Jewish community was in violation of purity laws found in the Torah. Anything that she touched was considered unclean. Since she was irregular in her condition, she was considered a permanent outcast. The CT Website even has a word for her; she was a zabah which means she had to make offerings to the priest because she was considered sinful due to her unclean discharge. Since her condition was constant, she was kept from participating in any religious service or activity. She lived the life of an outcast.
Secondly, her husband could not touch her due to the uncleanness of her body and she would be infertile anyway. During a 12 year ovulation she would have been incapable of pregnancy. Added to these problems would be anemia. Her society had an iron poor diet anyhow. She was probably tired all the time and had little stamina. She probably had general poor health.
Her real desperation was due to her inability to have children. The CT Website describes her attitude: “To be infertile in a culture where motherhood was the supreme female virtue hung a cloud not only over her current life, but also over her future prospects. In such societies, one’s security in old age came from one’s family. To be childless was to confront, on a daily basis, the likelihood of a very grim and lonely future.”
After the touch occurred, the woman realized that she would not be able to escape the crowd unnoticed so she came forward. She is described as “trembling” and she falls at Jesus’ feet.
Many pastors have preached on this story and there may be very good reasons.
What the woman does is almost incidental. She just touches the hem of Jesus’ garment. It probably took one second and in many cases Jesus would have gone right on walking. But He stopped. Her small gesture got some attention. Her belief that the touch would help was all she needed to get help. Jesus honored her belief and she was healed and Jesus acknowledged that: “Your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Jesus proves that He is approachable. He is not angry or irritated with the woman. There is every indication that He is glad that she has done this. Her touch is an indication that she believes and maybe Jesus wants all of us to know that He is approachable. Have you ever had what I call a “silly prayer?” I am not sure that silly prayers exist. God takes them all seriously.
Jesus exhibits a compassionate nature toward the poor. Some of the people who are poor are people who have the greatest needs and some of them have the greatest faith. Jesus has great love for the poor and He wants all of to exhibit that love.
Jesus sometimes allows circumstances to enter our lives that reduce us to desperation so that we will reach out for Him. I have found that to be true in my life. An overused expression is “Everyone reaches out to God when the bombs are falling all around and you are deep in a foxhole.” Those times are the only times that some people get serious about their relationship with God. Would it be easier and less stressful to come to God in other circumstances? Of course it would. But desperation is what it takes for many of us and God know that.
As we have thought about physical touch this week as a way to communicate love, maybe we have considered “big touches” like hugs, pats on the back, hand- shakes or even kisses in greeting.
But look what an unnamed woman did with a little touch.
What can you do with your touch?
What can God do for you with His touch?