And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”’ He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’
In Jesus’ world women were second class citizens. In Jesus’ Jewish religion the women who bled were unclean third class citizens. For a young rabbi trying to establish a position in the public eye this scenario has got flashing warning lights all over it. Jesus, however, was never too worried about his own position and reputation. His concern was for others, their plight and situation.
Throughout his ministry we see Jesus caring for, mixing with, touching and being touched by women. He was breathtakingly enlightened and inclusive. ‘Ahead of his time’ hardly does justice to his embracing, respecting and accepting of women. We live in an age when women right across the world are calling out for leading men in politics, business, education and the professions to show the sort of attitudes that Jesus displayed 2,000 years ago. The feminist movement should make him their Patron Saint.
Back to the story and to the plight of a desperate woman. She is at the end of her struggles; she has trusted in doctors, spent all her money. She has nowhere else to go and no-one else to go to. She is a desperate searcher, needing to find something. Like so many desperate people she is hidden in the world. She pushes herself to the front and silently reaches out a nervous hand. She had heard about Jesus, more than that she had some sort of faith in him.
Some years ago I led a series of ‘Mission Weekends’, where I would turn up at a church with a small team. There would be a series of meetings, big and small, and one or two special services at which we would present the contemporary reality of Jesus and invite people to follow him. It soon became clear that the most successful of these gatherings was always the women’s night. Loud music, big fun, great food and drink, lots of conversation and laughter. Women are always better than men at throwing a party! During the evening I would interview a couple of Christian women about the place of Jesus in their lives. Then I would give a short punchy talk about the ‘men in your life’, husbands, sons, brothers, fathers. These were usually men that the women loved and valued but by whom they had often felt let down. I would then invite them to make Jesus the main man in their life, the one man who would never let them down.
I used to finish with pictures of women and men and Jesus, all to the great Roberta Flack song, ‘I Heard He Sang a Good Song’.
I heard he had a good song,
I heard he had a style.
And so I came to see him,
To listen for a while.
And there he was this young boy,
A stranger to my eyes.
Strumming my pain with his fingers,
Singing my life with his words,
Killing me softly with his song.
There were often tears, prayers and ministry to follow.
This just happens to be a story about women reaching out to Jesus.
Whether you are male or female why don’t you make him the main man in your life?
I am reaching out,
Reading your story,
Hearing your song,
Feeling your fingers.
I want to find you,
To follow you,
To become like you.