The Unclean Woman

Mark 5:21-42

People cautiously stepped aside when I walked by. Most were disgusted by my presence. I was the unclean woman. For 12 years I suffered from a hemorrhage of blood. Anyone who touched me or touched anything I touched, was considered unclean until evening, then required to wash their clothes and bathe with water.

Initially, a few had pity on me, willing to perform the rituals after having contact with me. But that quickly grew tiresome for my family and friends. Plus, there was the lingering foul odor and untidiness of it all. It was easier for people to avoid me. Doctors didn’t know how to treat my disease and often the "cure" was humiliating and painful, worse than the illness. The cost of treatments left me in poverty. I felt abandoned and useless.

Then Jesus arrived in our town. The afflicted and hopeless whispered his name with deep affection. He offered healing of mind and body and soul, a new beginning. I dreamed of being whole again, doing the normal things women do.

I searched the neighborhoods and found Jesus surrounded by men, women and children, all wanting to see his face, to receive healing and a promise of better things. My heart soared. I was caught up in the excitement and decided if I could just touch his garment, somehow that would be enough.

Then I noticed Jairus, a prominent synagogue leader, was with Jesus. They were on their way to Jairus’ house because his daughter was dying. My hopes shattered. Touching Jesus’ clothing as I planned would render him ritually impure and he would not be allowed to enter Jairus’ home. But I was desperate and instantly convinced myself he wouldn’t know who touched him. As he passed by, I stooped down and reached for him, barely touching the fringe of his robe. I felt a surge of healing and strength! Breathless, I struggled to my feet and backed away.

Jesus immediately asked: "Who touched me?" I froze. He repeated the question. I wanted to run but instead fell at his feet, terrified because he had caught me. Sobbing and choking on my words, I poured out my story.

There was no rebuke, no scolding for delaying and defiling him. Instead Jesus praised my faith and said, "Take heart, daughter, you are free from your suffering!" But as he spoke, a servant ran up with the news that Jairus’ little girl had died. I swallowed hard, thinking I had selfishly delayed Jesus, causing a synagogue ruler’s only child to die. I feared retribution from Jairus, but Jesus reassured him, saying: "Don’t be afraid. Just believe." Soon after, Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead! The master graciously delivered us both!

What a glorious time I had returning to normal living. No more hiding in the shadows. No more shame and rejection. For the first time in 12 years, I embraced life and all those around me!

By Joyce Catherwood

Copyright 2007

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