The young adults small group at my church has recently begun to read through a great book called “He Still Moves Stones” by Max Lucado. It’s a great read for those with little time and such, because what it does is something I haven’t found to this extent in any other book I can remember reading up to this point. It takes a story, be it five verses or fifteen, from scripture and really delves into it. We recently reached chapter seven, titled “A Crazy Hunch and High Hope” based on the story of the bleeding woman from Mark 5:24-34. The discussion that followed from my group brought up some genuinely astounding points, the biggest of which was that those verses provide a microcosmic look into the life of every Christian.

***

Mr. Lucado points out that the woman’s condition affected EVERY aspect of her life. Sexually, maternally, domestically, spiritually…she was unclean. Everything she did was tainted, everything she touched was unclean, everyone she had contact with had to be ceremonially cleansed. Twelve years of bleeding. And ironically it didn’t say “She had tried a few doctors but none had successfully healed her. No, it says “She had SUFFERED very much from MANY doctors.” Every remedy she had tried until this point had made things notably worse. Hope had long since been abandoned and let’s be real, no one wanted much to do with her.
What hit me for the first time (maybe not new to you) was that this was a chronic menstrual disorder. Scratch that, that much I remembered. But I had never made the correlation between that and Isaiah 64:6 which says “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…” Later, the verse talks about our sin, but it begins with the heart of the matter: even what we consider good, or better, or adequate is worthless and disgusting to God. Nothing. Less than nothing. EVERYTHING we do. Just like this woman. She wasn’t allowed in the temple because her body was unclean. If she made dinner, or made the bed, or cleaned the house, everything she touched was unclean and no one else could touch it. Even her husband had to choose between God and her. He couldn’t have sex with her according to the law of Moses, and even if he broke the law and did, he wouldn’t have been allowed to enter the temple. Her every act, regardless of intention or motivation, was tainted by her condition.
That’s what makes her encounter with Jesus so extraordinary. She risked everything, literally, even her life. If anyone in the crowd surrounding Jesus had recognized her, she would’ve been killed. I had never grasped the full scope of her situation. The emotional havoc that twelve years of ostracism and hopelessness must have caused. The crippling desperation that led her to what was essentially suicide; the unclean outcast approaching, despite every obstacle and challenge, the perfect person of Christ.

He would’ve been justified in condemning her. The crowd surrounding him would’ve sung his praises for upholding Mosaic law. It would’ve scored him points with the Pharisees and Sadducees, maybe even shifted their perspective of him and eased the constant conflict for a while. Instead, he turned to her and, as Mr. Lucado pointed out, gave her a unique name among every woman in the bible. He called her “daughter”, a most intimate and personal relationship, and the only time recorded that he ever called a woman that. “Sinner, you are healed” would’ve been sufficient. “Go in peace your faith has healed you”. He did so much more.

And now the entire course of her life shifts, but at the same time doesn’t. The bible doesn’t say what she did. Rumor has it she followed Jesus and was with him in his final days. I personally like the image of her returning to her life as it was, but with every act now being pure and Christ honoring. I like the picture of her finding the deepest joy in simply washing dishes and clothes and cleaning the house. I like the idea of her embracing her husband for the first time in years, crying, simply overwhelmed by just a touch, but a loving touch worlds apart from the harsh, distant touch of the doctors. I imagine she awoke every morning with the memory of how her life was, and then praised God openly for the new life and opportunities He gave her.

Imagine the reverence and intimacy of her first trip back into the temple. How even the rituals of purity were performed with fervor and devotion. How every word from the priest’s mouth was consumed by her hungry mind and grew in her humble spirit.

***
Ideally, this would be the experience of every Christian. Every believer who finds that his entire life of worthless, pathetic attempts at self-righteousness is now given purpose. How he can know that while nothing he can do will earn him a thing, he can at the least live a life before man that gives glory to the only one worthy of it, and know the only sustaining source of identity.

It goes without saying how pathetic it is that I can’t name five people I‘ve known, myself included, who have even lived one day with such joy and conviction.

Advertisements