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Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Today’s Reading | Luke 8:40–56
Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.
As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.” When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.” When Jesus heard this, he replied, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.” When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, “Child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened. (NRSV)
A friend of mine who leads worship workshops and retreats tells a story of doing a very creative Bible study exploring this story in Luke’s Gospel. Participants were invited to use random photographic images to illustrate the personality of the principal figures in the story. When it came to the hemorrhaging woman, a number of people chose pictures of thin old women, reflecting the twelve years of illness and marginalization she had experienced.
My friend tells how surprised he was when one woman picked a picture of a hale and hearty middle-aged woman, strong and in seeming good health. She explained her choice by reflecting that the text does not tell us the age of the woman, only that she has suffered for years and lost all her money seeking a cure that never comes. Yet we are told that the crowds were “pressing in” on Jesus, she reflected, and this woman, out of faith, was able to get close enough to Jesus to touch his cloak. In her mind’s eye this meant the woman had a kind of strength and determination to reach for that which gave her hope—Jesus.
Grant to me strength of faith, gracious God, that I might find a way to reach out and touch the hope I have in Jesus. Amen.
Written by Calum I. MacLeod, Executive Associate Pastor and Head of Staff
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