Today’s reading: Luke 8:26-56
Today we read the story of the woman who sneaks up behind Jesus, touches the hem of his garment and is healed of a continuous flow of blood. What’s curious about this incident is it first seems that the woman is healed without Jesus’ intending it. Indeed, Jesus says,
Jesus said, Someone did touch me: for I perceived that power had gone forth from me Luke 8:46
From this statement, it seems almost as if power radiates or flows out from Jesus almost automatically. Kind of like plugging an appliance into a wall socket, if the power is there it instantly flows into the appliance. However, it just doesn’t seem right, that the all-powerful son of God didn’t know who touched him and that he heals the woman inadvertently. It seems there should be a more logically consistent explanation.
To me, this is a passage that speaks to the need for public worship and confession. There is no doubt this woman has faith. Her faith is so strong that she knows that she will be healed if she just touches Jesus garment. However, she does this secretly, it’s just between her and Jesus. Often we hear this from our Protestant brothers and sisters, an attitude of “all I need is Jesus”. However, here Jesus doesn’t let that be enough. He had to know power went out of him, he had to know who it went to, and he had to know that it healed the woman. He had to want it and he had to will it. He could have let it go at that and it would have been their secret. But Jesus doesn’t do that. He calls her out publically. He makes her come forward and admit what she did. He then praises her for her faith. Why?
Jesus wants her faith to be an example to others. Her deep inner devotion is meritorious. It’s wonderful but what is good is the lamp if it is hidden under the lampstand? Jesus wants her faith to be displayed to others so that they might learn and benefit from it. This is the same reason why confessing your sins to Jesus alone is insufficient. Internally, you may be truly sorry for your sins but taking no outward action to display regret and penance does not add anything to the faith of others. When people see you going to confession it calls them to do the same and the can have a reliance that you are conscious of your sins and work to be freed from their grip on you. When someone watching you goes to confession they lose the idea that, “everyone else has it all together, it’s only me who is a sinful disaster of a man”. The line for confession gives others the confidence to get on the line.
Tomorrow: Luke 9:1-26