One of the many beautiful things about our Bible is its persistent inclusion of women. From Eve on, we understand clearly that our God created us, used us, and continues to use us to tell his story. We matter to him—so much so that Jesus took special pains to minister to women throughout his earthly ministry. A perfect example is in Luke 8:42-48.
Here, we’re introduced to a woman who desperately needed healing. We know nothing about her except her malady—she was bleeding for 12 years. Nothing, and no one, had been able to stop this menstrual flow. Her feelings of pain, helplessness, and embarrassment must have been crippling.
It may be hard to imagine this type of physical bleeding, but how many of us are bleeding in a different way—hemorrhaging guilt, feelings of unworthiness, or jealousy? Just like our cohort in the Bible, we’re embarrassed and ashamed by our bleeding, so we attempt to hide it. The bleeding woman in Luke most likely hid inside, but we often have different strategies. We may try to cover our emotional bleeding with frantic busyness, or alcohol, or unhealthy relationships. If it’s covered, we reason, not only will others not see our struggles, but we also won’t have to look at them too closely ourselves.
Luke tells us that Jesus heals the bleeding woman because she ventures to give the hem of his robe the lightest of touches. After 12 painful, shameful years, her bleeding stopped, and she was healed.
What can we learn from her?
We need to come to Jesus for healing
It sounds simple, but sometimes it’s very hard, isn’t it? And if we think it’s hard for us, we need to remember our bleeding woman. That she approached Jesus is truly amazing! She had two huge strikes against her: she was a woman, and according to Jewish law, she was ceremonially unclean because of her bleeding. She never should have left her home, but she did. Despite her deep sense of shame, she somehow found the courage to enter the throngs of people surrounding Jesus. If she hadn’t come to Jesus, she would not have touched his robe, and we would not be talking about her today.
What about us? Do we come to Jesus, even when we’re embarrassed to approach him for help? Do we think we should be able to staunch our bleeding ourselves? Are we afraid of facing the reason for our bleeding? Remember, the enemy delights in these hesitations. He’s happiest when we do not approach Jesus. If you doubt it, think of how often things happen that make it hard to do your daily devotionals, or to get to church on Sunday. Think of how many things pop up just as you kneel down to pray. As this brave woman in Luke shows us, we must come to Jesus to be healed. There is no halfway.
The beauty and awe of this reality is that the choice to follow Jesus is ours. We have free will, as did the woman in Luke. We can choose to come to Jesus, or we can choose to reject him. If we choose to come to him, he can heal us from whatever sickness or insecurities we’re hemorrhaging.
We need to tell others about what Jesus has done for us.
If we don’t, no one will know. They’ll attribute our circumstances to chance, or talent, or simply human effort. That’s why Jesus took the time to call the woman forth and prompted her to share her story. The crowds surrounding her needed to hear it, and so do we.
Now, it’s not always easy for us to tell others about ways Jesus has healed us. We may be afraid of rejection, laughter, or simply rudeness from our audience. We may think that no one wants to hear. Well, if anyone had a right to feel that way, it was the bleeding woman. Most likely, she had been shut away from people for 12 years, waiting for the bleeding to stop. But it never did and sheer desperation drove her out of hiding. And now Jesus is calling her forth, asking her for an accounting of what happened to her. Luke tells us she was trembling, and fell at his feet. Before everyone, she told him why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. This is an example for us. We are called to do the same.
It’s interesting to remember that the actual physical healing took no time—she touched his robe and it was immediate. The time that Jesus spent with her focused on her emotional and spiritual healing. By sharing her story, by voicing aloud what Jesus had done for her, this woman began to heal inside. Her shame was gone; her sense of worth was restored. Jesus was not content with mere physical healing—he took the time to help her heal emotionally. He wants to do the same for us.
Jesus cares about our small stuff
It’s important for us to remember that this story of the bleeding woman is sandwiched in the account of the healing of Jairus’s daughter. Presented this way, it reminds us that our concerns and struggles are important and real to Jesus, even as seemingly larger and more urgent needs are happening around us.
Luke tells us that Jesus was traveling to minister to a dying 12-year- old girl. It’s interesting to note that our woman in this passage had been bleeding as long as this little girl had been alive. Clearly, though our woman was sick, she was not on death’s door. Therefore, it would have been understandable for Jesus not to stop for her, but instead hurry along to a more urgent need, one of life and death. But we read that Jesus stopped, healed the bleeding woman, and conversed with her. Instead of bypassing her issue to address a plight that was clearly more urgent, Jesus made time for her.
He will make time for us as well. No concern of ours is too small. Whether we’re praying for safe travel, a productive job interview, or a surge of confidence for our struggling teenager, Jesus is interested. He will always hear us, even when we hesitate to bother him with our seemingly benign troubles.
Luke makes it clear that Jesus is perfectly capable of healing all things—chronic and imminent, shameful or terrifying. We learn he heals both our bleeding woman and Jairus’ daughter. He does not choose between them. This is a lesson for us every time we hesitate to bring smaller concerns to him—nothing is too big for Jesus, and nothing is too small.