A Sufferer’s Last Hope

I love the title William Barclay gave to the passage in the Bible about the bleeding woman. He called it, “A Sufferer’s Last Hope.” Certainly, Jesus was the last hope for this woman as well as for Jairus’ daughter.

Notice the subtle humor in the account of the woman pressing through the crowd to touch the hem of His garment.

According to Mosaic Law, this woman was ritually impure since she had a bodily discharge (Leviticus 15). Most of the time in the Old Testament when a person who was contaminated laid hands on something, it meant he was transferring contamination to what was pure or innocent. For example, a leper who touched a non-leper rendered the non-leper unclean.

A ritually pure person could not touch a woman after childbirth, a Gentile, a vessel touched by a Gentile, certain animals, or a dead body. An individual who had been defiled by the touch of something or someone impure had to go through a detailed, time-consuming cleansing procedure.

Jesus became contaminated the minute the bleeding woman touched His clothes, and He further contaminated himself by taking the hand of the little dead girl (Mark 5:41).

Evidently, the bleeding woman thought she could touch Jesus’ clothes, get healed, and then meld back into the crowd without being noticed. Instead, Jesus stopped and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:30).

The disciples thought the question was absurd since so many were pressing around Him. But the woman knew what had happened — and that is why the text says she “came and fell at his feet, and trembling with fear, told him the whole truth” (Mark 5:33).

Why was she afraid? She knew she had ritually defiled a holy man. If Jesus had been a Pharisee, He would have lit into her, “How dare you touch me? You have contaminated me. Get away from me.”

Under the Law, when the impure touched the pure, the pure were made impure. But with Jesus, when the contaminated touched the uncontaminated, the uncontaminated decontaminated the contaminated.

There is a reverse force flow between the Law and the Gospel. Instead of the woman’s impurity defiling Jesus, His wholeness cleansed her. He does the same thing with our sin. He makes us righteous rather than us making Him sinful.

Ministry is about transformation. We bring the good news that Jesus is Savior, baptizer in the Spirit, and Healer. Jesus told us to lay hands on the sick. That is a physical sign of the health in Him being passed into the person with illness so health enters rather than death reigning.

Ministers who have the greatest effect on people impart the life of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit through their example and teaching.

Impartation is really a transfer of our own walk with God into the lives of others. God uses us to touch people, one-by-one, and to be His agents in seeing lives transformed by the Spirit.

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