"Blessed is she, who has believed, that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Luke 1:45

Sunday, July 26, 2009

An intimate encounter with Jesus

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, "My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live." So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' " But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."
Mark 5:21-34

The account of Jesus' interaction with the woman with the issue of blood shows so much about His heart for people. It has always been my favorite and I love to talk about why; this accounting showed me the depth of his understanding and generosity.

The woman has struggled for years. by necessity of her condition, she lived without physical contact. She was "unclean".

She was tired.

So tired.

Simple activities that helped her to live, like getting water from the well, cleaning and preparing food, and taking care of her living space, would be so overwhelming physically that it could take her hours to complete even one of these activities.

No matter how often she might have bathed, she probably never felt truly clean and refreshed.

She probably had little to call her own. All she had was spent in pursuit of a cure. There is no account of anyone providing for her on a regular basis. She probably gave up her pride to the need to eat many years before this time, begging and scrapping for what she could find.

She didn't live in town, so she probably had either no companionship, or if she was lucky, she had the company of others like herself. Rejected, ignored, despised and disparaging.

How can you have hope in a culture such as that?

But somehow, hope came.

Hope came on the lips of someone passing by. Or of a leper healed. Or of travelers chatting on the road as they passed her. That he had powers that couldn't be explained. They say he could heal anyone. They said he was going to pass her way. close enough that even her meager amount of strength could carry her to him.

I can just see her. Stretching and straining to see down the road. Is he coming? Is he near?

Suddenly she sees the crowd, hears the voices and the noise. Can't you feel her heart beat fast? The shaking in her legs comes not from weakness, but from anticipation and that illusive and fleeting feeling that she thought she had lost: hope.

Jesus had a purpose that day. Everyone thought he was on his way to heal a young girl, but he knew he had another appointment along the way, and he knew that he wanted to meet her more than half-way. He knew he had more strength than she and was willing to use that strength to get this woman to his side. Yes, Jesus knew he would be furthering his father's kingdom and glorifying God with what was to come, but I feel absolutely positive that he couldn't wait to meet this woman, to share his strength, and to share his love. But as is usually the case, he was ready to give even more.

Do you think the woman was thinking of anything but getting to Jesus that day? I don't. I think she finally decided that she didn't care who or what she was, where she came from and what her struggles were, or what limitations society tried to place on her; she just knew she had to get to Jesus.

I can just see it. Suddenly, noticeable to only Jesus and the woman, his stepped slowed just enough, at just the right moment.

"THERE! His robe! I can reach his robe!", she thought.

"Ahhh, her faith is enough. One more step should make it easy for her to reach me", he thought.

Contact made!

It says that Jesus felt the healing go out of him. He asked the crowd who touched him. Of course he knew. He knew that the woman had received the healing she sought. He knew that his power had healed her and that she would live a life free from the physical suffering she has endured for 12 long years.

But that wasn't enough healing for him. He wanted more for her. More than she knew to want for herself. He was looking beyond the physical to the emotional. The social. The spiritual.

He asked who touched him, because he knew she would answer. He knew when she admitted that she was the one, when she stepped out in front of the crowd, that he would be able to heal her place in society as well. No longer would she be cast aside, walked past or declared "unclean". Jesus took the opportunity to vindicate her in front of a huge crowd. people would know that she was healed.

He saw beyond what she desired to what would help her to grow, to prosper. And all to glorify God.

That is the Jesus I met in this encounter. One who desires more and gives abundantly above what we we need and want. Even more than what we know to ask for.

He is generous beyond imagining, compassionate above what we could comprehend, his timing is perfect and his healing is complete.

The most important trait that we can learn to develop, like the woman with the bleeding disorder, is stubborn faith. Though she knew it would cost her, that she would suffer and that she would have to struggle to get to Jesus, it was worth it.

Her faith carried her to him.

His love and compassion healed her and lifted her beyond her own desires.

I pray that you would experience this kind of faith, love and compassion in your life, your situation, today.


Shanda said...

Amen! Awesome interpretation!

Tara said...

This made me cry. Thank you!

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

"He wanted more for her. More than she knew to want for herself."
Always. Oh, this is always the case, yet so easy to forget when we tunnel-vision a solution.
Thank you!