Luke 8:43-48: AMP (not the energy drink)
The untouchables were a different class of people than we find portrayed in Hollywood productions these days. Rather than 1920’s gangsters who were almost considered heroes’ by many of the time, the untouchable who was the focus of this stunning story in Luke is truly someone who was untouchable and completely disconnected from any sense of community. In the mind of this aging OB/GYN the unfortunate and desperate woman in the scene played out in this story has DUB. Can’t be cervical CA since it’s been going for so many years and cervical CA would have killed her by now. Get the biopsy and treat accordingly. Pretty straight forward.
We all know effective therapies were not available 2000 years ago so this woman’s fate, in her eyes, centered on this man Jesus she had heard rumors about. This great healer who had performed miracles in the community was her last hope. Because of her “uncleanness” she was completely cut off from all social and cultural relationships. And for how many years! She had been bankrupted by spending what money she had on the physicians and therapies of the day. (Luke I suppose could have been one of them!) She was in no way experiencing the Shalom that God wished for all His people. Her HEALTH was about as bad as it could be.
I would imagine many in Western Africa, especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone, are feeling this way as I write this brief meditation. I’m sure many with HIV/AIDS felt that way during the early years of the outbreak (especially from people in the Christian Church) that has claimed the lives of millions. And I’m pretty sure many still feel like outcasts.
But this passage has come to mean more to me than ever before. As I’ve been working on the development of the Health for All Nations and as our group has sought God’s will for what we are to contribute to the discussion of what health and ministries of health and healing should mean for the Church, this story has come to have more meaning than ever. Just imagine what this woman was experiencing as she approached Jesus with the hopes of simply touching the hem of his cloak.
She was in the midst of a crowd. There is no way she made it to such close proximity to Jesus without being jostled around a bit which means she TOUCHED a lot of people on the way in. What would this crowd have to done to her had they known who she was? I’m pretty sure she was trembling with fear thinking of the likelihood that she would be stoned to death for such a blatant break with the traditions of that day. Yet she pressed on. With a steadfast faith that this man had the power to heal her and transform her life she reached out and touched the hem of his cloak! And guess what! She didn’t get away with it. Jesus calls her out. Makes her come forward and be identified. Then she does something I never really gave much thought to before. In Luke’s account she DECLARED in the presence of ALL the people for what reason she had touched Him and how she had been instantly cured. Just think of the boldness in what Luke is telling us. I can almost hear her cracking voice full of emotion (fear, thankfulness, joy all at once) explaining what had just happened to her. And then the most beautiful part of all. The God of the universe recognizes her, confirms her as His DAUGHTER, affirms the level of her faith and that this has made her well. The Greek word used there is sozo, meaning to heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole. And then best of all He tells her “Go into peace.” WHAT GOOD NEWS! The Greek word used there for peace is Eirene, the parallel to the Hebrew word Shalom. She was restored to true health. Restored to her family, her community and to life itself.
This is the ultimate goal of the Christian “healthcare” professional. We must recognize and fulfill our role in restoring people to true health that only comes from knowing Christ.
If any of you have access to Netflix I would highly recommend watching a BBC series entitled “Call the Midwife.” Especially season 2 episode 1 would be a good starting point. If you’re in a hurry go to minute 43:15 and on.
This is the blog for the Best Practices in Global Health Mission division of the Center for the Study of Health in Mission. It is a space for all who are interested in sharing opinions, ideas and best practices having to do with Christ centered health related ministry.