The Woman With the Issue of Blood – Luke 8:43-48
Opening Thought: So it’s been quite some time since I last published a blog post, and now here I find myself at midnight, after spending the past 3 hours alone with my Bible, typing away to the thought of how I’m so thankful that Jesus never stops bleeding. His blood is always there and it’s available for all who call on His name in repentance. Oh how I’m thankful for that!
Where I’m Reading: I have been working my way through Luke’s Gospel. It has literally been all I’ve been reading and studying for about 4 months now and I’m about ready to finish up chapter 8. Call me a slow reader but I’d like to think it’s “meditating on the words of Jesus” and “studying to show myself approved”. I find the more time I spend with God the more ugly my imperfections are, the more beautiful He looks to me, the more hopeless I see myself, greater becomes the hope and trust I have in Him, and the more undeserving I see myself, while at the same time the more acceptance He displays toward me. In short, Jesus is my only Hope and my greatest treasure. Apart from Him I can do nothing and it serves me well to remember that.
The Text: Before I dive into the text I was reading tonight in Luke 8 I want to give you some pretext. The text I will show you revolves around the requirements of the Levitical Law (meaning the requirements that God placed on His people, the Israelites, in order that they be made right with Him). Leviticus 15:19-27 deals with the menstrual flow of women and how they were to be cut off from others while they went through this unclean time in order that they not contaminate others from their impurity. So due to the fact that I’m not a woman, and don’t feel qualified to talk about this in detail, I’m going to let the Bible do most of the talking.I figure if I do that I won’t talk myself into an uncomfortable corner!
Scripture: Leviticus 15:19-27 ESV
“When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean. And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. And whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. Whether it is the bed or anything on which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening. And if any man lies with her and her menstrual impurity comes upon him, he shall be unclean seven days, and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean. “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity. And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. But if she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. And on the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest, to the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the priest shall use one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her before the LORD for her unclean discharge…. “Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle that is in their midst.”
Severity of the Law: So after reading that text we can’t help but seeing the severity of the issue *no pun intended*. It didn’t matter whether this was the regular monthly time for a woman or if it was an irregular, long time frame of bleeding the law was the same and the requirements didn’t change. This person was literally cut off, basically alienated from society, they were treated in many ways like a leper would be; avoided, walked away from, left alone, that type of treatment.
Unclean: The Jewish people were well aware that touching anyone in this condition would render them unclean as well. They knew the purification process was time consuming and frankly a lot of effort on their part so they did everything they could to avoid this. Their husbands would also be careful to avoid contact of any nature during this time because even to touch would have sent them through a whole day of purification. These women would have been literally alienated from their own husbands.
I love my wife but if we were still bound to this law I would definitely be using the Hide-a-bed! This was not easy for any woman. The law also required you to wash your clothes if they were touched by the unclean person, which would mean that the husband would have to wash his own clothes (good luck with that) because if his wife washed them she would have to touch them and they would be unclean all over again.
Cut off from Church: These women were not only cut off from all social life (which must have been hard as women thrive on social) but they were also cut off from the going to the sanctuary (see vs 28-31). This was clearly a hassle; nevertheless, it was sanctioned by God as a way to keep His people pure and most importantly to prepare them, and us Gentiles who read this, for the Gospel.
Preparation for the New Testament Version: This passage from Leviticus is so very important in order to bring deeper understanding to what happens to the woman with the issue of blood in the Gospels. Let’s read in Luke.
Scripture: Luke 8:43-48 … 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.”
The Crowds: The crowds around Jesus were enormous, literally thousands of people many times, and they weren’t very considerate to say the least. There was even a time that Jesus had to hop in a boat because the crowd was pressing Him so much that He thought they would crush Him if He didn’t take action. Point is, they weren’t afraid to press around him and get nice and close. Most of them were hoping to see the next BIG thing that He would do. In many ways these crowds were thrill seekers, people really not interested in Him as their only hope, but rather how He could improve their life.
Different than the Crowd: There was one woman who was very different than most people in the crowd of spectators that day. She saw Jesus as her only hope. She had spend the past 12 years in doctors appointments and had spent all she had with no results. Not only the lack of money and the fruitless medical appointments had depressed her severely, but she had spent the past 12 years in isolation, void of any real relationships, she was an outcast of society.
Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures: People do crazy things in times of desperation. People have run through flames in burning buildings, run through bullets blazing in war zones, and rescued children from wild animals when in desperate situations. This woman was no different, she had heard of Jesus and witnessed what He could do, she knew who He was and that He was her only hope. This drove her to do the most bold, shameful, and frankly unthinkable, thing which was to push through a crowd of thousands of people to reach Jesus. She knew full well the implications of performing such an act and what the consequences could be; to make hundreds of people unclean and force them to have to isolate themselves for a whole day. Yet she could not let this opportunity go by. This may be her only chance and she had to take it, law or no law. She knew that all she had to do was touch the bottom of His garment and that would be enough, and it was.
Jesus Exposes Her: So many times we hear in churches nowadays, “Just slip up your hand with everyone’s eyes tightly shut and no one will peek”, basically, “Let us know in secret that you want to touch Jesus”. We see in this passage that Jesus doesn’t want anything like this to remain a secret. He says, “Who touched me?” He is now officially making a big deal about this!
If Jesus can read minds, know thoughts, know His own future death, Peter’s future form of death, he told Peter that he would deny him, and he did, and he told the Pharisees what they were thinking when they were thinking it, does it not make sense that He also knew who touched Him? Yes! Jesus did know who touched Him but He wanted her to step up and tell the story so that the Gospel could be revealed to the whole crowd in greater measure.
The Law: Jesus is not bound by the requirements of the law. Physical uncleanliness does not make Jesus unclean where He would have to go through ceremonial purification. Instead of the unclean contaminating Jesus, upon her touching Him through faith, it’s reversed and she becomes clean instead of making Him unclean. This passage screams out the message of the Gospel from the rooftops, “If you want to be made clean, do what ever it takes to get to Jesus! He is your only hope and the only one who can make you clean!” When sin touches Jesus He is not the one that is defiled but rather the defiled are made clean.That’s really GOOD NEWS.
A Different Kind of Peace: After Jesus declared to her that she was healed He said, “Go in peace.” What did he mean? Was He saying, “Now that you’re healed you should have a better life. Go relax and take 10 deep breaths and breath out slow”? That’s not the kind of peace Jesus was referring to. You’ll remember in Luke 2 when the angels say, “Peace on earth good will to men” at the announcement of Jesus birth. The kind of peace Jesus is referring to is peace between man and God, your sins have been forgiven kind of peace, you are no longer a child of wrath kind of peace, you were once an enemy of God and now you are a Daughter of God kind of peace. He called her daughter indicating that her sins were forgiven and that she was now part of the family of God, not by natural heir but by spirit through faith.
Clearly Not Just a Physical Healing: When we start pulling all these pieces together we can clearly see that this wasn’t just some random healing that took place for the benefit of this woman’s quality of life. This was something much bigger than that, this was a demonstration of His abilities to purify, sanctify and make someone right with God in the blink of an eye without any further efforts or work on the part of the person. He completed the work in an instant, from the healing, to the forgiveness of sin, to purification, to the sanctification. All of these steps would have had to be accomplished through human effort prior to Christ. He is the completed works of the law, they are totally completed through Him and Him alone.
Scripture: Ephesians 2:9-10
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Our Part: We really don’t have a part in our salvation other than throwing ourselves at his feet in reverent Fear and Trembling as we see this woman do. We must recognize how unworthy we are in relation to His holiness and place ourselves in a posture to receive His mercy.
If you find yourself in a position of desperation today, if you recognize that without Christ you are gone, do what this woman did and force your way through anything that would hold you back from that. “Today is the day of Salvation”. Don’t be like the crowds who denied touching him when asked be like the woman who just went for it, and in humility testified to the whole crowd of her former condition and what had taken place and how she had been saved. Don’t concern yourself with what any church or worldly crowd thinks of your sin or your condition. They may be disgusted at you for touching them on your way to Jesus but Jesus is never disgusted by a filthy, condemned person coming to Him in Hope of Salvation.
If you would like to know more about Jesus, and why you need Him, please respond to this post.
Grace & Peace.