From today’s reading of Matthew 13 and Luke 8
And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.
As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” – Luke 8:41-48 (ESV)
I love this episode from the gospels. Jesus is on his way to heal Jairus’ twelve year old daughter who is at the point of death. This woman, twelve years into a physical malady that was not only debilitating but also rendered her permanently ceremonially unclean, touches the fringe of Jesus’ garment and is made well.
Jairus and the woman occupy very different stations in life, but both have come to the end of themselves. Jairus is on the brink of losing a daughter that he has treasured for twelve years. The woman has spent all her treasure trying to gain back the health that she has been denied for twelve years. Jairus is an important man, a ruler of the synagogue; the woman would have been considered quite unimportant in that culture, an untouchable, due to her discharge. But both are important to Jesus, and both receive the healing that only Jesus can give.
There is a sweetness to this narrative; Jesus not only heals the woman, but as he so often did for the untouchables and outcasts the he ministered to, he takes special care to publicly honor the one who has had dishonor heaped upon her for so long. Jesus could have allowed her to be healed when she touched him, and left it at that. It could have been their little secret. Instead, he calls her out; “Who was it that touched me?” As Peter points out, a lot of people have touched him; he is in a press of people. But only one touched him in faith for healing.
“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” This trembling, timid, yet valiant woman has been touched by Jesus, and is blessed publicly by our gallant Savior, the one who lifts up the downcast and honors the desperate, timid faith of those on the outskirts of polite society and at the end of themselves.