Is it possible to sneak up on Jesus?
The Bible tells the story of a woman who came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak while he wasn’t looking, and she was healed.
Here is the story from the Gospel of Luke:
As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:42-48, NIV)
Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” and his disciples, thinking this the strangest question, replied, “Everyone touched you!” However, Jesus knew someone touched him in faith. Something was different about this touch.
“Someone touched me; I know that power has gone from me.”
Isn’t it curious that Jesus could feel healing power leave his body. This stirs up a lot of questions. If this was a physical sensation for him, no wonder he was often exhausted after a full day of healing and had to escape, get alone, and pray. He was physically and emotionally involved with each healing.
Did the woman really sneak up on Jesus? Is it possible she touched Jesus and he didn’t know she was coming, and didn’t know who she was?
It’s hard to believe Jesus didn’t know who touched him, so why did he ask the question? He asked for her benefit, not his.
Her physical ailments had been a constant source of pain and embarrassment for twelve years, and had restricted her contact with holy men like Jesus. In fact, it’s possible no one had touched her for twelve years. After all this time, she must have assumed healing and personal attention were not for her. She wasn’t qualified. She didn’t count. Another version of the story, found in Mark 5:26, makes this sad comment, “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.” She snuck up to touch Jesus in secret because being seen or noticed had worked out poorly for her in the past.
It can happen to all of us. We become so beaten down by life we go underground, learn to accept pain and embarrassment, hope no one notices us, hope the cool kids leave us alone, cross the street to avoid the bullies, give up dreaming and hoping, and lay low until it is all over. I believe that was the mindset of this woman. The last thing she wanted was to be noticed and have to explain her actions. Unfortunately, she was discovered.
“Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet.”
There is a scene at the end of the movie, The Client, when the young mom and her two boys were moving into the witness protection program. The mom, Dianne Sway, said, “All I ever wanted was a white house with a walk-in closet.” When she realized her dreams would come true she said, “Now I can watch my boys grow up, maybe even join the PTA.” Up to that point, her life had been so beaten down even simple and cheap things, like joining the PTA, were beyond hope. She couldn’t believe it was finally happening for her.
I believe that also describes the life of the woman who was healed. She couldn’t believe something good was finally happening to her.
That’s why Jesus stopped and asked, “Who touched me.” He wanted her to step forward and admit what she did - not to blame her or embarrass her, but so he could hold her close, hug her, accept her, and wrap her up until she stopped trembling. If Jesus had kept walking, the woman would’ve faded into the crowd, her physical ailment completely healed, but her heart still full of rejection. Jesus called her out so he could speak directly into her eyes, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Nearly all of us have problems that we won’t talk about, issues that force us to sneak through the crowd. As we stumble from solution to solution, our hope fades and desperation intensifies. In my case, I tell myself, “I should be over this by now; I should be further down the road of spiritual maturity and not worried about these ancient haunts.”
Jesus healed the woman physically when she snuck up on him and touched him. But he knew she needed more. Her heart needed healing the most. How gracious it was that he stopped and met her heart face-to-face. He wants to do the same for you and me. Jesus wants to heal us completely.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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