A note from the author: This is a work of fiction based on biblical truth. Every effort has been made to stay within the confines of Scripture while exercising creative liberty to bring an important historical figure in the Bible to life. Her story can be found in Matthew 9:20-22, Luke 8:43-48, and Mark 5:25-34.
According to Levitical Law, the woman was unclean and would have been an outcast from society and from her family for as long as she was afflicted. Even more, she had no access to corporate worship or sacrifices. A Jewish woman would have certainly felt that divide just as deeply as the one from her family. In faith she reached out to Jesus to heal her. And He did. Even more, He brought her out from the shadows into a personal relationship with Him.
As we enter the holiday season, may we all remember who we were before Jesus saved us. Unclean. Separated from our Creator by our sin. But God, in His infinite wisdom, sovereignty, and grace, sent Jesus to be our Emmanuel. He could have healed us and sent us on our way; instead, He calls us into a personal relationship with Him. May we always be in awe of this gift! The Godhead – our Father, Jesus the Savior, and the Holy Spirit – dwells with us. God rest ye Merry, dear ones. God is with us and He is Lord of all!
By Bethany Riehl
No, I can’t describe Him.
It’s funny, isn’t it? The most important moment of my life and all I can picture is the way the dust coated His sandals, the way His garment settled on the sand. But, no, I can’t remember His face. That’s the first question everyone asks, of course.
The thing is, I didn’t go to see His face.
Where to begin?
When you’re an outcast to society as I was, you listen to the chatter of people around you with hungry ears. I would sit in my room near the window, and just listen to the talk on the streets. I didn’t care if they spoke of their crops or complained about their husbands; I just wanted to hear the musical cadence of conversation.
I heard talk of a great Man that no one could make sense of. I longed to go to synagogue to hear Him for myself, but of course I couldn’t. Oh, how that shattered me—much more than the physical agony was the spiritual; while I remained unclean, I was completely separated from God. No right to offer sacrifices or worship Him with the congregation. No right to pray to Him or ask the priests to pray for me. No right to take part in the feasts.
Doctors had sapped me of my strength and money with their treatments—all guesses, all failures. Nothing could be done for me. I held back just enough coin to pay for the two turtledoves that would be required as an offering when…if…I was healed. They were my only link to hope.
Talk of the rabbi spread like a fever. The Pharisees hated Him, regarded Him with contempt. But the people whispered that He could heal. He opened the eyes of blind men, healed the lame, gave hearing to the deaf, could cast out sickness and demons with authority. Was it even possible? Or just wild rumors among hope-filled people?
The only freedom I felt in my affliction was at night. I would slip from my room, and wander beyond the city walls, eyes on the stars, free to move without fear of afflicting anyone else with my tainted touch. I turned the stories over in my mind. Within them, I heard the words of the prophets echo through my heart. Words I’d known and heard all of my life before my sickness took hold and cast me from the synagogue.
The deaf will hear…the blind will see…the dead will be raised…
Had the Savior indeed come?
If so, He could offer me what no one could. Healing from my sickness. Freedom from my wandering. Restoration with my family.
I listened with hope. And dread. As they circulated through the city, like a bit of juicy morsel passed from mouth to mouth, the claims were wild and varied; it was said He had denied the audience of His own mother and brothers. If that were true, how could someone such as myself expect to be admitted into His presence?
Still, I began to venture out during the day. I lurked in alleyways, on the outskirts of crowds, listening, waiting. Hoping. How did I dare approach the Messiah for His touch?
Or…the thought crept over me slowly…I could simply take it.
The crowds were thick enough around Him, people always pressing. Who would notice me? I was certain: if I could only touch the fringe of His cloak, I would be saved. Anticipation shimmered through my heart like a shaft of light dancing on a dark, swirling sea. It shined brighter than the affliction, than the danger of His wrath. He was my hope. My only hope. Worth all risk.
When next He came to the city, He arrived with a crowd following Him, and building as He went. Wild with anticipation, I slipped among them, unnoticed, as more people followed. We moved like a tide, cramped and demanding. He was the moon, pulling us in one direction with one purpose: get close. Beads of sweat broke out under my robes as the sun beat down on me. I clutched and pulled myself forward, searching with my eyes. His profile would flash between faces before disappearing again, but I was getting close.
A man to my left turned back suddenly, his elbow nearly catching me in the nose and I fell to my knees. Stayed there and crawled. Someone stepped on my hand and I bit back a cry, but still crept forward, twelve years of agony and loneliness driving me.
Then, suddenly, a small part in the sea of legs and robes around me; His garment hovered above the dirt, just inches away. The din of the crowd muted as a loud voice struck out above my head. I glanced up to see Jairus, one of the synagogue officials, on his knees. I ducked my face so that he wouldn’t recognize me, but his eyes were fixed upward, imploring the Healer and I could hear the depth of my own agony tangled there in his words:
“My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.”
Stunned, I sat back on my heels, eyes blinking with fresh tears, thrown off course. Jairus was someone worthy to talk to the Man. I had no right—
The sandaled feet shifted and began to move away, my hope scattering like the clouds of dust beneath them. In desperation, I lunged forward and brushed my fingertips against His cloak.
Immediately I could feel in my body that I was healed. Joy and strength, light and life rushed through me and twelve years of loneliness, rejection, and questioning dried up. Again, I sat back on my heels, hands over my face, and wept with relief.
Above the crowd, I heard, “Who touched my garments?”
My veins ran cold.
An answer came, incredulous. “You see the crowd pressing in on You and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”
My hands remained on my face, clutching frantically at my flushed cheeks, trying to hide. What had I been thinking? The Messiah couldn’t be stolen from. My belly quaked with fear.
The crowd around Him shifted and His eyes met mine as I knelt there in the dirt.
A murmur rolled through the crowd as my name floated from person to person like a fly flitting, unwelcome, around a feast-laden table. The crowd that had pressed forward, greedy for His touch now scattered back, afraid of mine. My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, and I worked to straighten trembling legs beneath me and rose to go forward, certain my affliction would flow again, worse than before. I babbled, desperate to explain myself.
His eyes—you asked what they were like. That, I can’t tell you. Nor can I share with you what His voice sounded like as He said—I’m sorry. I never can get this part out without tears choking the telling of it. Give me a moment.
He said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”
O, the wonder of those words: Daughter. Well. Go in Peace. Be healed.
I heard later that Jairus’ daughter had died, but that Jesus—the Healer—brought her back to life. He did the same for me, although I alone know the full truth of it. I also heard of His death, then His resurrection. Of everything that has been done in His Name since.
And so, dear physician—Luke, was it? What would you truly like to know—what He looked like or what He did?
I thought I was reaching for Him to heal me of my affliction. And I was. It was simply that I didn’t know until He made me reveal myself what I needed to be saved from. What had ailed me long before my affliction and would have continued regardless of my physical state. My sin.
Until my Messiah called to me, I didn’t know how truly lost I was. But when He called me “Daughter” I knew. He saved me.
From my sin and my wandering.
Into His forgiveness and His kingdom.
Tell them that in your writings, dear Luke. The Healer drank the cup meant for me. Because of Him, I am Redeemed.