One of the things that attracts us to Jesus is His compassion. It is demonstrated again and again throughout the New Testament. One of the most tender examples, in my opinion, is the account of the woman who bled for 12 years. This account is found in Mark 5:25–34, Matthew 9:20–22, and Luke 8:43–48. I read the account in Matthew today:
And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.
The first point of interest is that she had suffered for twelve years. This was more than just denoting that she had been enduring this malady for a long period of time. It points to how she would have been excluded from the goings on of the temple. Ceremonial law deemed that women who were experiencing menstrual flow, or non-cycle related blood flow (illness, or childbirth) were unclean (Leviticus 15:19-33). For this woman, this mean a lot of social exclusion and isolation. To be able to be healed and rid of this problem would allow her to become involved in society and religious ceremony again. It was important.
Wherever Jesus went, crowds surrounded him. In Luke and Mark’s accounts, they talk about how the crowds were jostling around him. When I was reading this passage today, it struck me how this woman approached Jesus. Scripture doesn’t give us very much detail from her point of view, so this is merely my opinion: The woman, whether it was from shame and embarrassment, or simply the fact that she didn’t feel that she would be able or worthy to garner His attention or compete with the crowds, or likely a combination of all, simply reaches out to touch the hem of His cloak. What faith! She doesn’t seem to be able to, or desire to impose herself on Jesus, but she knows that she needs Him. She believes that He will be able to help her. Don’t you just feel compassion and tenderness for her? This nameless woman, lost in a crowd, who has been isolated for so long…
I have heard it said before in sermons, that the term Jesus uses for her, ‘daughter’, was an endearment. Here this ceremonially unclean woman touches Him, which for anyone else would have made them unclean too, and His response isn’t anger or harshness, but to refer to her in an intimate, tender way. As a father to a small daughter. Then He encourages her, and exhorts her faith saying that it has made her well. How that must have been such a relief for her! Such compassion, when everyone else would have avoided her.
It is a blessing to see Jesus’ full humanity on display here in His compassion to this outcast woman. He was as tender as a father, and powerful as Sovereign of all creation, at the same time. Be encouraged today. This same Jesus is the one who intercedes for us, who died for us, and who has gifted that we be co-heirs with Him as His brethren! Oh what love, oh what a Savior!
Soli Deo Gloria!