Yesterday we suggested that Jesus intentionally came into contact with people considered “unclean” in his culture. Here’s one story:
While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose.
(Matthew 9:18-25 ESV)
If you did come into contact with something “unclean” there were ways to become “clean” once again. The ritual would combine a practical cleansing, and a religious cleansing.
After this encounter, Jesus would be doubly unclean. He would need to wash his clothes, himself, and stay away from people until the next day. This happened all the time, no one kept perfectly clean, but it would have been an annoyance and led to some lost productivity.
But Jesus isn’t concerned with that, and helps these two people.
The first is a ruler, or official of some kind. Normally he’d be dignified, calm, and would walk at a leisurely pace. But today he’s panicked and running. He has just lost his daughter, and all hope would normally be lost. But, today he can only imagine one way she might come back from the dead – there is a travelling rabbi or teacher who is healing people of all kinds of diseases. Maybe he can help this little girl?
Jesus seems willing to help, since he follows the guy home, but on the way he gets stopped by someone else in need. A woman, who has suffered for years with physical suffering, emotional suffering, social suffering all because of unstoppable bleeding. She was perpetually unclean, so she never had physical contact with other people without them recoiling in horror and removing themselves to wash and purify themselves. Who knows what she’s tried in the past to heal her. Like the official, she’s desperate, and sees Jesus as her best shot at healing. She touches him, actually his clothes, believing that’s all it takes.
Question: Is she right? Do Jesus’ clothes heal her?
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