Jesus and the shamed woman

Yesterday, I wrote about how the woman with an issue of blood experiences shaming from powerful men. Today, I want to highlight how Jesus deals with her differently.  All the Gospel writers present her as creeping up quietly, nervously and sneaking a quick touch of her garment. Her aim seems to be to make some contact with Christ but to do so unnoticed and sneak away again.

Now on one level, this looks like it is superstitious, a touch of magic cloth that has been in contact with the holy rabbi. However, Jesus does not see things that way. Nor, does he allow her to creep away unnoticed. First of all, he notices her.

30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” [1]

To his disciples, the woman is just another person in the crowd, brushing up against Jesus. To Jesus, she was already someone who had come into contact with him and by faith had received healing power from him. So, so Jesus looks around and identifies her.She comes in fear and trembling but Jesus says:

 “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease”[2]

He will not allow her to slip away quietly. He is adamant that there will be a face to face meeting. Now, on the one hand, this doesn’t at first sight look like the opposite of shaming to us does it? She has now been exposed in broad day light for all to see. The very thing that she does not want has happened. And if Jesus had just done this to expose and to embarrass her, the yes, it would be shaming but that is not her purpose.

Jesus brings everything out into the open, out into the daylight. He is showing that there is no need for her to be hidden away, no need for shame. He is also ensuring that there is no question mark about her status now. She is healed, she is clean. This woman who had needed to hide away in the shadows, who went unnoticed for fear of shame was veery much out in the open, a public figure with standing in society now. She had been restored.

I want us to think about how we deal with people who have been subjects of shame. Even in our mercy, do we try to keep them hidden, out of sight with their issues swept under the carpet. Often the impression we put out is that we see them as a problem that we wish would go away. Let’s resolve not to do that. Let’s resolve to treat people with dignity and honour, to love them as Jesus does, to offer real hope.

If you identify with the woman and have experienced suffering and shaming, I would love to introduce you to Jesus, the one who will not crush you or shame you. Jesus is the one who will love you and restore you. He will take away your shame, he will give you hope.


[1] Mark 5:30-31.

[2] Mark 5:34-36.

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