“A woman who had suffered from severe bleeding for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If only I touch his cloak, I will get well.” Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, “Courage, my daughter! Your faith has made you well.” At that very moment the woman became well” (Matthew 9:20-22, GNT).
There’s a Lenten story that often gets overlooked. It’s not one that pastors typically enjoy preaching on, and honestly, I was rather uncomfortable doing research on it as well. Why? It has to do with blood, and a lot of it. Matthew 9:20-22 talks of a woman who had an issue of blood. She was “subject to bleeding.” To this day, we aren’t entirely sure what that means. We do know, however, that this issue made her ceremonially unclean.
In that time period, what did it mean to be ceremonially unclean? In short, she was cut off from society. She could not worship with others or have fellowship. Whoever she touched was unclean as well. (Leviticus 15:25-27). This disease was humiliating; so humiliating that in order to reach Jesus, she had to crawl through the dust and weave through the feet of a very crowded street.
Pause to think about this action of the woman: She is full of shame as she is unclean, yet she takes a HUGE risk being in the vicinity of all of these people. Why? She had faith in this Man called Jesus. She had so much faith in Him that she thought, “If ONLY I touch His clothes…” (Mark 5:28). She didn’t need a spectacle. She didn’t desire in the slightest any attention. In humility, she merely wanted to touch His cloak. In faith, this woman’s action said, “Lord, take my issue of blood. Make me clean.”
The woman touched the hem of his clothes, and Jesus says something peculiar in this instant. “Who touched my garments?” I would respond in a similar fashion as the disciples did. “Jesus. Dude. Look at the crowd around you, silly man!” (This is probably somewhere along the lines of what I would say to His obvious statement).
At this point the woman is thinking she’s in trouble. She is trembling in fear, knowing that as an unclean woman, she touched someone. Further, that someone was a leader in the Jewish world, the world that called her unclean in the first place. But Jesus, in His love and attentiveness to each of His children, looks to hear and says, “Daughter.”
He does not curse her, He does not ostracize her. Rather, He calls her His own and says, “Your faith has made you well; go and peace and be healed of your disease.” Jesus heals her with a wonderful trade off.
What is this trade off? There was price that needed to be paid for this woman’s healing. A perfect world, full of peace and free of disease does not come free. It required a trade; blood for blood. This woman gave Jesus her issue of blood, and He made her clean by shedding His own blood. This is a Lenten story because Jesus makes the ultimate trade off: His life for hers.
What are you ashamed of? What makes you feel “unclean”? I bet it has something to do with what you gave up for Lent! Whatever the issue may be, give it to Jesus. Rather than thinking of it as “giving up” something for Lent, think of “giving it to Jesus”. In faith and humility, bring it to the feet of Jesus. He has traded His life for yours. He took your issue to the cross. In love, He gave you life and calls you His son or daughter by the price He paid on the cross: blood for blood.