I was reading my bible last night and the story of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years (some versions read “issue of blood”) caught my eye. I read the story and didn’t really see anything new, but I had the sense that there was something there that went a little deeper that I needed to see. Here is the story from the Holman Christian Standard Bible-for your convenience: (Luke 8:42b-48)
While He was going, the crowds were nearly crushing Him. A woman suffering from bleeding for 12 years, who had spent all she had on doctors yet could not be healed by any, approached from behind and touched the tassel of His robe. Instantly her bleeding stopped.
“Who touched Me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said,
“Master, the crowds are hemming You in and pressing against You.”
“Somebody did touch Me,” said Jesus. “I know that power has gone out from Me.”
When the woman saw that she was discovered, she came trembling and fell down before Him. In the presence of all the people, she declared the reason she had touched Him and how
she was instantly cured.
“Daughter,” He said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
As I read it the second time, the phrase that stuck out to me was “Somebody did touch Me.” I found it interesting that Jesus was not content with his disciples’ reassurances of, “It’s just so crowded in here, everybody’s touching you!” He persisted because He knew it was more than that. In my translation, there’s a footnote in verse 47 that adds something. The text says, “When the woman saw that she was discovered. . .” The footnote adds, “literally-that she had not escaped notice. . .” Ah, there it is. She didn’t want Jesus to notice her. She knew who He was and what He could do. She knew if she touched even the tassel at the hem of His robe, she would be healed. She just wanted to get her healing with the bare minimum of contact, and slink back through the crowd to her home, as quietly as possible.
How often do we come to Jesus in the same way? I know I do. I just want Him to fix this or that as quickly and painlessly as possible, without really taking the time to look into His face. Why is that? As I pondered this more and more, I realized that you can’t truly look into the face of Jesus without getting more than you bargained for. He will heal the broken places in your heart, but in return He wants your heart. He longs for a relationship with me, not just to hand out “quick fix” solutions so I can be on my merry way in life. He knows that to do that would be a disservice to me. I would “grow up” as the child who always got gifts from her parents, but never got to sit on their lap and bask in the deep, unconditional love that molds and makes a child into a well-rounded adult.
The other thing that holds us back is shame. We are ashamed of our sickness, our weakness, our inadequacies. We shrink back because we expect a reprimand or a slap on the hand that’s reaching for the cookie jar. But look at Jesus’ response to the woman when she finally does come forward:
“Daughter. . .your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” Wow. There was no, “How dare you touch me without my permission!” or “Don’t you know you have to be saved to be healed?” He drew her out just because He wanted to see her face and wanted her to see His. Just a glimpse of the one who had been so desperate as to press in and touch Him without notice and then escape. He knew that if their eyes met, she would never be the same.
I challenge myself and anyone else who’s up for it this week to take the time to look into His eyes when we need something. Let Him decide how long to hold our gaze. We will walk away changed.