And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, "If I only touch his garment, I will be made well." Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, "Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well." And instantly the woman was made well.
Because this woman had suffered a discharge of blood for 12 years, there are a few things we already know about her. According to Jewish law, she was ceremonially unclean; that means she could not take part in any social or religious activities. Because this was ongoing, she had not been able to take part for many years. She was an outcast.
The Gospel of Luke's telling of this story (Luke chapter 8) gives a few more details. It tells us that she had spent all of her money on doctors who had not helped at all -so she was sick, she was an outcast, and she was financially destitute. She knew that it was not acceptable for her to confront Jesus openly and ask for healing. If Jesus touched her, He would be unclean as well. And of course, this wasn't the kind of topic a person wants to call attention to in a crowd. There were many reasons why she couldn't just approach Jesus like other people did, yet she believed in her heart that Jesus could and would heal her.
So, she made a plan. She decided to approach Jesus from behind as He was walking through a crowd, and reach out and touch the tassels of His outer garment. Her hope was that in touching Jesus, she would be made well. It was a risky move. If anyone in the crowd recognized her, it could be dangerous. Being unclean, she was not allowed to be in public, touching and bumping and jostling with those who were clean. According to their custom, she could make the entire crowd unclean. But she went into the crowd anyway, and she came up behind Jesus, her only hope, and she reached out and touched His garment, and she was made well.
I am reminded of how often we are embarrassed about the struggles and issues in our own lives and afraid to approach Jesus in the congregation -in public. Yet the book of James, chapter 5, tells us that we ought to confess our sins to one another so that we can be healed. Someone said that we are as sick as our secrets -I think that's true. Author and speaker, Jack Frost, noted that we often don't seek healing (spiritually and emotionally) until the level of our pain exceeds the level of our denial -I think that is true as well. But, when we are desperate enough to risk it all in order to be right with God, God shows up.
I am also reminded here that after the fact -after Jesus heals and restores us, all of the hurt and pain and suffering we have endured (physically, spiritually and emotionally) is nothing but a testimony to God's goodness and grace. After she was healed, it didn't much matter that people knew she had been sick. The same is true for us. Seeking Jesus is worth the risk.