I read something the other night that was shocking.
I’ve read it before. I’ve understood what it says. I’ve even understood some of the deeper implications of what it says.
But still. It was new. (I love how Scripture is like this, how the Word of God is living and active, and how it never changes meaning yet pierces our hearts at just the right time and in just the right way.)
It was the story of the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. That alone — whatever condition she was suffering through — sounds bad enough. If you take the culture of the time into account, though, and think through all of the ceremonial laws and what this meant for her, it’s even worse. What did it mean to be “unclean”? Ridicule, solitude, rejection. Poverty, likely, because no man would have her; hopelessness, likely, because there was no way she could provide for herself.
Even deeper than that, though, was the horror of the situation. Only the miraculous could cure her, and the only way to tap into that? Was to go to the Temple. The Temple, which housed the presence of God… a God who had been silent for centuries, who seemed to have forgotten His people, apart from the strange proclamation delivered to a priest some thirty years earlier about Who was coming.
But still, even though God had been so distant, the Temple still held promise for a generation so removed from the stories of I AM. If she could get there, she could be healed. If she could get there, her life could be changed. If she could get there, she would be made new.
But she couldn’t. Because she was unclean.
Ceremonial laws kept her from the place where His presence was supposed to be.
Horrific. Terrible. Heartbreaking. No hope at all.
But there was Jesus.
Scripture doesn’t give us the details. Scripture doesn’t tell us how she heard about Him. Scripture doesn’t tell us how she came to believe. Scripture doesn’t tell us how much she understood, if she understood anything at all.
Scripture only tells us that she knew if she could just touch the corner of His clothing, she would be healed.
The woman forbidden and excluded from a building made by human hands for God’s dwelling place because she wasn’t clean… that woman walked (crawled?) right up to God Himself, in all of her uncleanness, and touched Him.
She wasn’t clean! She wasn’t a priest! She wasn’t even a man! Even if she had been in good health, even if she had been born into the right tribe, even if she had been a man, she wouldn’t have been able to touch God Himself.
But Jesus. He was there in the crowds, there with the people, there to be known, there to be seen, there to be touched…
There He was.
And He knew her. And He knew what she’d suffered. And He knew what God had done. “Take heart…”
Your faith has made you well. Your God has done this. Your God has seen you. Your God knows you. Your God declares you clean. Your God has redeemed you. Your God is not far away. Your God is near.
Near enough to be touched.
I’ve read this story so many times and have always considered the miraculous to be the fact that she was healed. That Jesus said it, and it was. (I AM was not so far away after all.)
But the real miracle here was that God, who had been separate from His people because of their uncleanness, was WITH His people in their uncleanness. Right there, in the big middle of it. And He called sin for what it was, and He required repentance. But redemption came through His effort, His suffering, and His sacrifice. Because of what He did, they COULD be free from sin, could live lives that honored Him, and could be His people.
And He was there, WITH them. There was nothing to keep any of them — no matter what their issues, no matter what their problems, no matter what their pasts — from Him. He was there. Near enough to be touched.
I’ve been loving Jesus for twenty-one years now, and I keep thinking that I’ve got Him figured out. But then, the old truths that I know I know I know I know, y’all (for real), come back and hit me in a brand new way. And I find myself saying, “Jesus, You never change… but You are new to me over and over and over again…”
So thankful that He is who He is…