“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
Today the woman with the issue of blood has been on my mind. In thinking of her, usually my thoughts turn towards her health and finances as the scriptures point out she had been dealing with the infirmity for twelve years and had spent all she had. Today I had a fresh revelation of this familiar passage.
“And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.””
I never considered the impact of this woman under the law. She would be considered unclean. In my culture, that would leave me picturing someone who was dirty, smelling, failing to bath, is shabby clothing. That certainly would cause similar outcomes, but under the Old Testament law it was something much more.
““When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean. And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. And whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. Whether it is the bed or anything on which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening. And if any man lies with her and her menstrual impurity comes upon him, he shall be unclean seven days, and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean. “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity. And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. But if she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. And on the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest, to the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the priest shall use one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her before the Lord for her unclean discharge. “Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle that is in their midst.”” Leviticus 15:19-31 ESV
For twelve years every part of her life would have been stolen from her. It was not just her health that was slowly killing her, but this illness would have destroyed every area of her life. She would have no fellowship. There could be no intimacy. She could not have her spiritual needs met while being unclean. She would be separated from everything, for twelve years. She would be lonely and isolated in her journey. I never considered the impact of her illness on the other aspects of her life, despite knowing that legally she should not have been in a position to touch Jesus.
The other thing that was revealed to me in this passage was that despite her step of faith, it was followed by fear. As ai thought about it, I realized so often in the Bible we see bold steps of faith followed by deep fear.
In Elijah we see a prophet boldly declaring a drought, then that God would bring down fire from Heaven. He slayed the prophets of the idol Baal. He prophesied rain. Then his life is treated by a pagan queen in the very next chapter and we reads:
“Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.”
1 Kings 19:3
Moses was quick to jump into action when he saw his fellow Jews being mistreated. Then ran when he realized he had been seen.
“One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.” Exodus 2:11-15 ESV
Peter was quick to defend Jesus when in the Garden, cutting off the ear of one of the soldiers. Immediately following he denied Christ, three times.
“but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.”
John 18:16-17, 25-27
So this woman was in good company with her boldness, followed by fear. In our own faith this is common too. We boldly step out in faith only to shrink back in fear. Yet, each of these stories didn’t end in the fear. They were followed by amazing results, an abundant life.
Elijah anointed Elisha, he continued prophesying to multiple kings. He did not die, by was taken up into the heavens by a whirlwind. Moses freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and led them for forty years. Peter preached one of the first messages in the church and saw thousands saved. The woman with the issue of blood was made whole.
What if we allowed ourselves to move in faith, past the fear and into the abundant life Jesus died for us to have?
Prayer – Lord, I am tired of allowing the enemy to steal, kill and destroy in my life and in the life of those I care about.Help me to stand in faith, move past the fear, and to walk in the abundant life Jesus came to provide. Holy Spirit do what only You can do. In Jesus name. amen.