Jesus Touches an Untouchable
“A woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, ‘If I only touch His garment, I will get well.’ But Jesus turning and seeing her said, ‘Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.’ At once the woman was made well” (Matthew 9:20–22).
When the godly Sir James Simpson was on his deathbed, a friend said to him, “Well, James, soon you will be able to rest on the bosom of Jesus.” But Simpson replied, “I don’t know that I can quite do that, but I do think I can take hold of His garment.”
In her shame at being ostracized from her family and being ceremonially unclean, the woman here wanted to be unnoticed. She merely desired to touch Jesus’ garment, confident that such contact was enough to receive healing. In keeping with such confidence, she received immediate healing from her defilement.
Our Lord became aware of what had happened only as He realized that divine power had gone out from Him (Luke 8:46)—a realization that happened before He humanly knew of the woman specifically. His statement, “your faith has made you well,” simply assured her and the crowd that miraculous healing had occurred. Jesus did not care that her touching Him would make Him ceremonially unclean to the Jews. The Lord was touchable even by an untouchable.
Even though the woman’s expectations were likely not fully informed by Scripture—she might have superstitiously thought Christ’s clothes had inherent healing powers—He spoke to her caringly and compassionately: “Daughter, take courage.” In spite of other factors, the woman’s faith was genuine and acceptable to the Lord. It was enough to make her well.
Part of the balance of Christian faith is realizing that we are unworthy to touch the hem of His garment, yet are welcomed into His full embrace as an adopted member of His family. How do these two seeming incongruities come together and balance out in your worship?