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There are two stories in the Bible that intersect with such poignancy—it’s as if they collided—on the one hand quite moving and on the other rather painful.
You may be familiar with this duology—the colliding of two lives where 12 intersects: a woman bleeding for 12 years and a child dying at 12 years.
This woman was bleeding for 12 years. We don’t know her name. In fact, she’s named in the Bible by her condition—“the woman with the issue of blood”. According to Mosaic Law, she was considered ceremonially unclean because of the incessant bleeding and therefore should not touch or be touched. This also meant that she was not able to worship at the Temple. [Leviticus 20:19-31]
This left her a social pariah of sorts—cast out from home and society, rejected, excluded, looked down upon, ignored—she hadn’t been touched in over 4,380 days. She didn’t belong. There was no one seeking help for her. Desperate to be brought back into the normalcy of society, she took matters into her own hands, spent all of her resources on physicians, but none could help her.
By the time Jesus showed up in her story her back was up against the proverbial wall. She was desperate. But she was courageous. It’s now or never. It’s faith or fear. It’s live or die for in Judaism, menstrual blood was seen as life lost, akin to death.
Over time snippets of news came her way—she heard about the miracles of Jesus. She heard He was in town. She had a made-up mind and a strong-determined faith that if she could but touch the hem His garment—not Him, but His garment, not just His garment, but the hem—she’d be made whole.
But why the hem of His garment? Why so specific and intentional? What did this woman know?
Most scholars agree that the “hem” or “fringe” of His garment refers to the tzitzit or tassels worn by observant Jews. The tzitzit are specially knotted ritual fringes attached to the four corners of the tallit (prayer shawl) and tallit katan (everyday undergarment). The four fringes were designed to help Israel remember their covenants with God.
And that’s what she knew. If she could but touch the tzitzit she would connect to the covenant of God to His people. She would connect to heaven. So strong was this conviction that when she touched the tzitzit, power so intense left the body of Jesus, disrupted heaven, released instantaneous healing, jolted Jesus to a halt and from His mouth the words exclaimed: “Who touched my tzitzit!?”
When she showed up in Jesus’ story, He was on His way to see about a 12 year old girl who was very sick to the point of death. We don’t know her name either. The Bible named her by her belonging—she was Jairus’ daughter. Her father was wealthy and renown in society. She was still under the authority of her father. She had someone advocating and seeking help for her.
Being an only-child (of sorts) Himself, and also face-to-face with His own impending death, I believe this made Jesus even more resolute in His commitment to help the child.
But, when power left His body, everything stopped!
He stopped moving.
The crowd stopped moving.
Blood stopped flowing.
And, in the time He sought to identify the one who touched Him with such heaven-released-power faith, life stops flowing—Jairus’ daughter dies.
In the stillness of the moment, a woman disentangles herself from the crowd to own the touch. You see, in times past Jesus initiated touch and people were healed. However, in this case she touched. She reversed the transmittal of power, she took it! Jesus had never had such a faith-touch and He responds with:
Daughter, your faith has made you well.Mark 5:34
Servants of Jairus disrupted the silence with a pronouncement on the other daughter—she is now dead!
For 12 years this woman was losing her life-source. Her faith-action caused Jesus to stop, and in so doing the life of a 12-year-old girl ebbed away.
Life met death.
The twelve-years-life/twelve-years-death anomaly played over and over in my mind until I caught a glimpse of what God’s heart was communicating to mine. It was in this one word: daughter.
Daughter. Be still my heart. For I imagine Jesus looking her square in the eyes—something no one has done for 12 years, and certainly not her own father—and He calls her “daughter”! He gives her belonging.
This was the ONLY time recorded in all of scripture where Jesus bestowed this endearing term—daughter—on any woman.
Her touch healed her body but His PDA (public display of affection) healed her heart. Restored completely. Made whole.
Going back to Jairus’ daughter, when Jesus eventually showed up in the little girl’s story, He also restored her life.
This is the tale of two daughters restored, it’s fitting on the eve of Mother’s Day.
One daughter had an advocate-father fighting for her life. One daughter had a redeeming-Father reclaiming her life. But both daughters had a healing-Father who saved their lives and made them whole physically and emotionally.
Shabbat Shalom. Today, on the eve of Mother’s Day, I speak to women. My sisters, know this:
Though in many ways society seeks to devalue us because we are women, God is the defender of the downtrodden, the outcasts, the misfits. He’s advocate for the voiceless. He brings life to dead things and dead promises. He restores.
His delay is not His denial or indifference to the issues we face; nor is His silence neglect. He is biding His time, patiently waiting for just the right moment to intercede. His time is not always our time—in fact it may never be our time—and while He tarries, the promise may die. But that moment of ‘dead promise’ will give God a picture-perfect platform upon which to interject most efficaciously and restore you to the beloved and elevated place of daughter.
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Please “like” or drop a comment, I love hearing from you.In creative solidarity, Dee