You know that part of you that you really want others not to see—that stubborn weakness, humiliating failure, embarrassing illness, horrible past event, or present struggle with sin? There’s very good news for you in the story of the woman with a hemorrhage in Luke 8.
Jesus was now a reluctant celebrity. And a crowd was teeming around him as he made his way toward Jairus’s home to heal the synagogue ruler’s twelve-year-old daughter.
In the crowd was a desperate woman. For twelve years she had suffered from a vaginal hemorrhage. All the medical treatments she sought had bled her savings. Nothing had helped. But she had seen Jesus’s healing power. When he touched people they were healed. If he could just touch her...
However, she had a problem. Her problem was the problem. Everyone who came to Jesus for healing had to tell him—and thus everyone else—what his or her problem was. The synagogue ruler had just done that. But a vaginal discharge? In front of all those men? Even worse, her bleed made her unclean, which added a deeper shame to her embarrassment.
But maybe Jesus didn’t need to know that he touched her at all. What if she touched him? Wouldn’t the healing power still flow? With so many people trying to get close to him, she could just quickly touch his cloak. Nobody would ever know! It was worth a try.
She pushed and jostled her way toward the Rabbi. The closer she got the greater the knot in her stomach. His disciples surrounded him, trying to keep the mob of arms from grabbing him. But her desperation fueled her determination. Suddenly a disciple moved. The moment was now!
Quickly she ducked low and lunged, sweeping her hand along the dusty edge of Jesus’s cloak. As she pulled back and straightened up she felt a flash of heat through her abdomen. She knew instantly the hemorrhage was gone. A wave of shocked joy washed over her.
For about five seconds.
Then she realized Jesus had stopped. His concerned eyes were searching the crowd. She heard him say loudly, “Who was it that touched me?” A wave of fear washed over her. Around her were various declarations of “I didn’t do anything!” But she stood frozen, not daring to catch the Rabbi’s eye.
She heard one of his disciples, with some exasperation, say to the Rabbi, “Master, the crowds sur- round you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus, still looking, said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.”
Beginning to tremble, the woman realized she had been caught. It had never occurred to her that she might be stealing this healing.
She looked up at Jesus and meekly said, “It was me.” He looked right at her. So did everyone else as they moved away from her. His eyes were intense, but not angry. The tears came as she stepped toward Jesus. She dropped to her knees in front of him and said, “I touched you, Master.” And she poured out her shame in front of everyone.
Jesus was moved. He leaned toward her and wiped her tears and said with powerful gentleness, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
When Jesus finally got to Jairus’s home and resurrected his daughter, he told Jairus and his wife not to tell anyone (Luke 8:56). And yet this woman, who tried so hard to keep her healing a secret, was required to tell everyone. Why? Because this woman believed in him.
What Jesus was exposing in that moment was not her weakness and shame. What he was exposing was her faith. He wanted her faith visible so that everyone who carries a secret shame—which is every one of us—might have hope.
Jesus, the Great Physician, has the power to heal us from every sin, every weakness, every failure, every illness and every evil ever committed against us. And he promises this healing to everyone who believes in him (John 3:16; Matthew 21:22).
Faith is what pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) and faith is what releases the grace of God in your life (Ephesians 2:8; Luke 8:48). Do you want deliverance from your shame? Come to Jesus believing. Come desperately determined to touch him. And if faith is weak, cry out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) and “increase [my] faith!” (Luke 17:5).
To encourage your faith in the One who chooses weak people like us (1 Corinthians 1:27) in order to show his strength, and as one way we can express our deep gratitude for your remarkable support of Desiring God, listen to John Piper’s message, “Consider Your Calling.” It’s a beautiful explanation of how and how much God loves you—you with all your weaknesses.
No, not every promised grace will be received in this age (Hebrews 11:39). In fact, most are being saved for your best life that is coming (Hebrews 11:35). But you, if you believe in him, will receive sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9) to help you in your time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
So trust him and take heart! That place of shame will not remain. Jesus is turning it into a showcase of his grace.
Kneeling with you at the feet of the Great Physician,