I was sitting in one of my very favorite places to be, inside a small little chapel. The presence of God in that place is always so real and tangible. I had no agenda, just basking in the presence.
There are some pictures on the walls that pull you in and the one I was facing was the one above. It is known as the woman who touched the hem of Jesus robe. A well-known Biblical story in Luke 8:43-48
A woman who suffered for years with a continuous woman’s blood issue, she had spent all her money, all her resources, all her energy and efforts, all on trying to find help with doctors and others who gave her promises of health. She was Jewish and had some very strict rules to live by. In Jewish culture, anyone involved with “blood” was known as unclean. They had to stay away from other people, they had to yell out “unclean” as they passed by others to let them know they could be contaminated if they touched them. She was basically an outcast, not wanted, not touched, not celebrated as a person for over 12 years. She was looked upon as nothing.
This woman was desperate for relief, the Bible states she had spent all her money, which also left her destitute. For a woman in this culture that meant no resources, women could not work, she could not work, she was not allowed to be with others. It meant a slow death.
By some chance, this woman had heard about a guy who was being talked about around town. It was rumored that He could heal people. She obviously had heard enough talk of His reported miracles to spark into her soul the chance of hope.
Then she heard He was coming by her town. This was more than huge for this woman – she was desperate. She must have convinced herself that she would “do anything” to touch Jesus, which meant she would basically break some Jewish rules and customs and sneak through the crowd somehow and touch Him. She would have been fully aware that if her plan did not work, she could get beaten, jailed or even killed. She may have made up a couple of plans – for me I would have thought about pushing through the crowd standing upright, to touch His sleeve, His robe. But this woman may have had thoughts that if she was recognized she could get beaten and pushed from the crowd before she could reach Jesus.
She crawled through the legs of the crowd as a dog weaves itself through a crowd, on all 4’s. I marvel when I see the picture, which in real life is painted on a mural in the town of Magdala, Israel and the mural is bigger than life. When I first saw this picture in Magdala, it takes your breath away. It is massive and you are instantly transported to that time and that place and the very spot where this happened. You feel the crowd pressing in, you feel this woman scrambling through the legs and feet intent on reaching her goal. I marvel at how she knew which legs were Jesus. All the feet were dirty, dusty in their sandals. They were all men’s legs, which robe was His?
I believe it was because Jesus was called Rabi, meaning He wore some kind of distinguishing robe or covering. It would have been a robe that perhaps went over His tunic. She would have had to spy this robe and make a dash on her hands and knees trying not to trip anyone and trying not to get stepped on, she was playing Russian roulette with legs and in the end did not wish to get shot. She would only have a short window of time to do this so she would have locked her eyes on target and scrambled her way through the maze of legs and feet to get to that robe and touch it while not being recognized or discovered until she touched it.
One little touch was all she needed, one little connection, and she would be healed, she knew that in her head and heart.
She did it!
She touched His robe and she felt something in her body. She felt the connection, she knew something was different. She now had to attempt to back out of the legs, to physically get out of the crowd before she was discovered. She must have been elated that she felt healing surging through her body, that her plan had worked. This Jesus did heal. The adrenaline would have been pumping big time through her body, now to safely scramble out, undetected.
But as life often goes, there was a glitch. The crowd suddenly stopped and she heard a voice call out in the crowd. She had never heard it before, but she knew immediately whose voice it was and she knew immediately that she had been caught. She would have tried to scramble even harder to get out.
“Who touched me? Power has gone out of me,” stated Jesus in a voice loud enough to be heard over the “Umph’s” of men banging into each other as they crowd suddenly stopped. Jesus’ disciples look at Jesus incredulously, He is surrounded by people, jostling and bumping into each other as they walk. It could have been anyone who touched Him and they told Him so.
This woman portrays a great many of us. We have needs, we have issues, we struggle with loads way to heavy for us and we think, usually when we cannot handle it anymore because our self-sufficiency is gone, I just need Jesus to take care of this. We have no time, no energy to spend on one on one time with Him, it is more that we simply need a “touch” of Jesus and we can keep on going. Just a little touch Lord, please, we beg Him.
For whatever reason, too busy, too distracted, perhaps we think, we are not worthy of the Masters attention because we are so “sinful” or not worthy, we cannot be perfect or holy like the Bible asks us to be. No one else in the world thinks much of us, so why would Jesus? We do not want to bother Him, it is such a little thing in the grand scheme of life, if I could just, if I could only, if I can simply reach His hem….
The crowd has stopped and they all are looking around, what is Jesus talking about? How can He ask who touched Him? Incredulously they all look at Jesus and then at each other, they do not look down. Only dogs travel down on the ground.
I imagine as Jesus is adamant and will not move until He has an answer, the woman figures it is only a matter of time until she is discovered, or someone whose toes she is crushing by crawling through the people will volunteer her. She either is forced or she stands up on her own. The crowd backs away as they recognize this woman as the “unclean” woman. She would be well known as it has been years.
Her hope deflates as she faces Jesus, her head bowed in more shame, she knows she obtained her healing wrongfully. She did not follow the rules, she did it is secretly, sneakily. Jesus must hate her as well.
Jesus, gazes at this woman and takes in her filthiness, she has been crawling on the ground after all. Jesus knows full well who touched Him, He felt His power leave. Don’t you find that interesting that Jesus has been jostled, touched and crowded by others all day and yet He never acknowledges that His power transferred over to any of those?
But one woman, it was just a little touch, she barely even got to hang on, it was a momentary touch and the crowd stops.
Jesus then calls her “daughter”. What?! Daughter.
The crowd gasps at this and she is sure she did not hear correctly. “Daughter your faith has healed you.”
The collective gasps come greater now. This is a woman who had no business being in the crowd. This is an “unfit”, “unclean”, “unholy” woman who definitely had no business being there and yet Jesus speaks to her kindly, with admiration in His tone.
God takes great delight in the people who fight to get to Him. She fought. She fought hard.
The difference in this scrambling woman was that she was scrambling to get to Jesus, she was doing whatever it took to touch Him.
Most of us scramble in life, too busy, too distracted, too obsessed with rules and the “have to’s” of the day almost at a frantic speed. We take the time to lift up “Lord help me” prayers but we do not make the priority of our day to “get to Jesus”. We think if Jesus will just touch us……
Do you see the difference, she went for Jesus with all she had, everything in her, she scrambled through the crowd with a purpose and a mission.
We on the other hand scramble through life with our do and dont’s and must’s and must not’s hoping that Jesus will notice us, come to us and pray that He gives us a little break.
One wants Jesus at all costs and gives all she has to get to Him. One wants Jesus to fight to get to us, in our crowds of life.
“Martha, Martha you are worried and upset by many things... Mary has chosen what is best.” In another story in the Bible, Luke 10:38-42, we have these 2 sisters. One is sitting at Jesus feet - Mary, taking in and dwelling on His every word. Martha is in the kitchen, cooking, frustrated, angry and too involved in life preparations to hear anything, she simply sees that Jesus is letting Mary get away with doing nothing.
Jesus praises Mary for her choice. Jesus praises the bleeding woman for her fight and
He acknowledges her before the crowd as “daughter” – a reverent term, a term of family, a term of endearment, a term of belonging. He acknowledges her faith which is huge and a fighting faith that she determined to get to Jesus no matter what. He lets her know that her choice to get to Him, as in Mary, was the better choice, the best path to take.
But most of all what I notice in this story is how that the scrambling woman who feels, similar to us, that if she can just get a little piece of Jesus, her life will change. How many of us only want a little piece of Jesus?
Jesus instead turns, looks at her and offers her – Himself. Not a piece, not a little touch, but all of Himself. Jesus knows a little touch will get you through a little while, but Himself will get you through life to the end.
Why are we content to take just a little touch, when Jesus stands there arms open, waiting to greet us and take us into the crowd with Him? We do not have to scramble and grovel on the ground, thinking He has no time for us. Jesus always has room for us. He wants to wrap His arm around us and walk with us for the rest of the way (life).
Am I content to take the scraps that get thrown to the dogs? The little pieces on the ground, rather than embrace a life commitment to actively being with Jesus. It will take work to stay joined, it will take effort, it will take commitment, but what a friend we have in Jesus. He will meet our every need. We must stop living in the “scrambling” condition, groveling. Where we feel life is too much, is caving in and we panic and call out time and time again in desperate need for just a little touch of Jesus. There is another way.
In the presence of Jesus, life pales, things that before were so urgent, matter not at all. Our priorities have changed and with Jesus, we get energy, we get peace and we get valued more than anyone else on earth can do. He loves us that much. Jesus is the answer for every problem, He has the answers and the solutions.
The challenge becomes like Martha and Mary – which one will we chose to be? Scrambling and getting the scraps the little touches on the hem or the life invested, walking arm in arm with Jesus, and letting Jesus do the worrying and big stuff for us? We get to choose every morning we wake up, which it will be.
Give your day to Jesus each morning, ask Him to join you in your day, to fill your day with His presence, invite Him to bless your day, give Him permission to disrupt your day with what He sees as important. Do more than touch His hem by flying out the door hoping you might find a little touch along the way. Sacrifice your day to Him, to live the day His way, instead of yours. It will be the best decision you make this morning and every morning.