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God’s Word for You

Luke 8:43-48 The bleeding woman

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

43 A woman was also there who had been suffering from a flow of blood for twelve years. Although she had paid physicians all she had to live on, she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up to Jesus from behind and touched the fringe of his cloak. Immediately her flow of blood stopped. 45 Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” While everyone was denying it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the crowds are pressing in and crowding you, yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

As Jairus led Jesus back to his house and his dying little girl, something happened. From the perspective of the disciples and the crowd (and the anxious Jairus), Jesus suddenly stopped and began to look around him, saying, “Who touched me?” This must have sounded strange, since the crowd of many people—perhaps hundreds of people—was pressing up and almost crushing Jesus. There must have been dozens of people who were actually in physical contact with Jesus at that moment.

The woman in question suffered from some unusual form of bleeding.  Luke’s medical diagnosis is ousa en rhysei haimatos (οὖσα ἐν ῥύσει αἵματος), “being in the condition of a continuous flow of blood.” Since an external wound would not bleed for twelve years (verse 43) without some sort of infection leading to death, we suppose that this woman suffered from a condition which today might be termed “abnormal uterine bleeding” or AUB. This condition is sometimes caused by thyroid problems but more often by a hormonal imbalance. My stepmother suffered from this type of condition for many years before finding treatment. Luke’s phrase here is identical with language used by other ancient physicians such as Hippolytus, Dioscorides, and Galen.

What this meant for her was that she would be ceremonially unclean. According to the Law of Moses, a woman was ceremonially unclean during her monthly period. Moreover, “anyone who touches her will (also) be unclean till evening” (Leviticus 15:19). That meant that this woman could not participate in the worship life of the temple. Her medical condition effectively excommunicated her.

The doctors couldn’t help her, and had impoverished her. Not that they were greedy, but none of their cures, which she paid for and tried, one by one, had drained away everything she had. Putting all of her faith in Jesus, she had desperately groped for his garment as he passed by.

46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me. I know that power has gone out from me.”

Jesus knew that power had gone out from him. He is always in complete control of his divine nature and of his power. He isn’t a creature to be manipulated by man apart from his will. He made a point of telling his disciples and the crowd what had happened so that they would see the importance of faith. Dozens or hundreds of people had touched his garment with no effect beyond what getting an autograph from a celebrity would bring today—a momentary thrill. But this woman had touched his garment (the tassel or kraspedon [κράσπεδον] of his outer robe) trusting that he was the Messiah. In an instant she was healed.

47 When the woman saw that she did go unnoticed, she came trembling and fell down before Jesus. In the presence of all the people she told him why she had touched him, and how she was immediately healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

Her healing didn’t depend on her coming into contact with Jesus’ robe. Her faith caused her to reach out for him. Jesus himself had inspired and planted that faith in her already. Mark tells us that she came “when she heard about Jesus” (Mark 5:27). She was saved by means of her faith, just as you and I are saved from our sins by our faith (Ephesians 2:8). Her rescue was proven by the end of her flow of blood. She was healed. You and I have been healed from the guilt of our sins by the outpouring of Jesus’ blood on the cross. She had an opportunity to confess her faith in front of everyone there, the whole crowd. When you have an opportunity, don’t forget to tell people who it is you trust, and why.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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