Thursday, March 19, 2009

"If only I could touch Him...."

The Woman with the Issue...that is what I named her. Prompted by a lesson in a book we are using in Sunday School, I began to take another look at this woman. I've heard the story many times and framed out the picture in my mind of how it all should look. But...once I delved into the Scripture a little more, I realized the picture in my mind was nothing close to the real scene that played out long ago, near the Sea of Galilee.

First, for this do-votion, I would like you to read Mark 5:21-34. Once you have read through that passage, please take the time to look up and read the following Scriptures:

Mark 2:1,2

Mark 3:7,9

Mark 3:20

Mark 4:1

Mark 5:21,24

What common situation did Jesus face as he taught or performed miracles?

Obviously, Jesus drew crowds of people. The words He spoke and the lives He changed brought people to Him like roaches coming out of the woodwork. You may laugh at that analogy but, I have seen roaches coming out of the woodwork in a small apartment I lived in. Throngs and throngs of them. It really is nothing I want to experience again but the word picture for me is perfect. From far and wide, people came to see and hear this Man.

Perhaps Mark 6:30-44 could give us an idea of just how large the crowds were that surrounded Jesus. This particular crowd just happened to be a whopping 5,000 plus. Maybe, this is one of the larger crowds. After all, Mark 8:1-13 tells us that Jesus then fed a bit smaller crowd of 4,000. Do you get the picture? Crowds followed Jesus, not small groups. This is an important concept when picturing the Woman with the Issue. After all, do you really think she somehow managed to just reach through the "crowd," while standing on the side of the road, watching Jesus walk by and touch the hem of His garment? I hardly think so.

So you ask, what do I think really happened? Let me tell you. But first, let's take a look at Luke 8:40. Luke gives a small detail in his account that may help clear up a few preconceived notions.

Fill in the end of this verse: "Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed Him, __________ ______________ _____________ _________ ________________________ ______________.

Here's what I think. I believe the Woman with the Issue was one of the many in the crowd, waiting for Jesus to return from the other side of the lake. Mark 5:26 says that "she had suffered under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better, she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus...." She had heard about Jesus. She knew this was her one and only chance for healing. When the crowds gathered, waiting for Jesus' return, I believe she was right there among them, feet planted in the sand, plan going through her mind. I can't help but wonder, did Jairus' demonstrative pleading interupt her plan? Was she waiting to get close enough to touch Jesus and then all of a sudden the crowd was turning and following Him to Jairus' house? If so, she wasn't going to let Him get away. Desperate, and knowing this was her last chance, she jumps in with the crowd, moves as close as she can get to Him and thinks, "If I can just touch his clothes, I will be healed!"

Isn't it funny how certain stories carry certain mind pictures with them? This is one of them for me. Somewhere, somehow, I had always pictured this lonely woman, standing along the side of the road, reaching her tiny little arm as far as it would go to just barely skim the "hem" of his garment. You too? That is what I love about Scripture. It is like a treasure hunt. Yeah...I know I am surmising a bit too, but once I posted this picture on my mind, the whole scene became even clearer.

I will continue my thoughts on 'The Woman with the Issue' in part 2. Can't wait to share the rest of the treasure hunt with you, as it only gets better.