“…your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
– Luke 8:48
Just in case you are jumping on the blog, first I’m glad your here! Second, in case you didn’t know, this is the second post in a 5 part series looking at the miraculous healing of the woman within the crowd found in Luke 8. If you missed the first post, you can get caught up here: The Crowd
I think a short recap of what we are doing before continuing could also be helpful. We are walking through this story and pointing out the different people and events, and looking at it the through the lens, or facet, of how Christ’s miraculous healings are a picture of his ability to overcome the deadly results of man’s fallen nature. The first post looked at the crowd, and now we will turn our attention to the woman.
The Woman (The Believer)
There was a woman who had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. – Luke 8:43
What we see here is a woman who is at the end of herself. She has exhausted every effort to try and find healing. Everything she had is gone, her savings emptied on multiple physicians who were unable to help her. Nothing worked. Nothing freed her of her condition.
That is what we see physically, however there is a huge spiritual truth being displayed here for us. For us to really grasp hold of what is on view here, we need to see her as the culture did. As one who is unclean.
In the Old Testament, the menstruation cycle is often used as a symbol of unrighteousness and a filthy state of the heart. To see this, lets start where her condition is described in the law.
“If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean. Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity. And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. But if she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. And on the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest, to the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the priest shall use one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her before the Lord for her unclean discharge. – Leviticus 15:25-30
I hope we feel the weight of this woman’s burden! For 12 years she was unclean! Every night for 12 years she went to bed, and woke up in the bed of her impurity.
What a vivid picture of our sin! Everywhere we go, filth following us. Everywhere we sit or lay, marked unclean. We carry nothing good with us, and leave nothing good where we go. This is what this woman felt physically, and what every believer has felt spiritually concerning their sin.
Let’s look at some other examples from OT that use this condition to express uncleanness.
Zion stretches out her hands, but there is none to comfort her; the LORD has commanded against Jacob that his neighbors should be his foes; Jerusalem has become a filthy thing among them. – Lamentations 1:17
“A filthy thing among them” as used here in the original language is to become a menstruating woman. The illustration is used to show how Jerusalem was sinful and worthy of judgement. That they, like a women in this situation, was separated from her husband and the temple. We see ourselves in this as the bride, unclean and separated from Christ our groom.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. – Isaiah 64:5b-6
Polluted garment in the original language is referencing menstrual rags. For 12 years this woman had been producing filthy rags. Her attempts at healing herself went no where, just as our attempts at righteousness without the work of God in our lives. As much as she tried to find healing, as much as she used to absorb the blood, she could not remove the label of unclean, and neither can we.
This is our state before Christ and seeing it brings about the most beautiful result. Spiritual poverty.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:3
The poor in spirit know they are bleeding, dying, and they know nothing is going to make them better. They know their sin is there to destroy them and have fought it endlessly, yet have never won.
They have made countless vows of “Never again!” only to never find success. They have woken up morning after morning in shame and guilt, and have traveled the same paths and alleys so many times, unsure of why their feet cannot deny themselves returning to the same place that the day before they promised never to return to. They have been to counselors, they have put up restraints, yet they rebel against the advice of others and tear down their own barricades to return to that which will kill them.
They have pummeled their sin down, have stricken it with their fists, have laid it in its grave, only to awake the next day tired and fatigued from the fight to see it standing again facing them, lacking any bruise or wound and full of vitality to attack them once more.
The spiritual poor are those who are exhausted from the fight. They understand their state and are aware of their inability to change it.
It is when you realize that you cannot heal yourself that you will come to the only one who can heal you. Humility comes when no matter how much you bind and clean your wounds today, you will only awake to find them still seeping and infected tomorrow. This women spent all she had trying to heal herself, only to wake up still in her condition morning after morning.
It is when you are humbled by seeing yourself in light of who God is, that you will come to him. He is all powerful, he is beautiful, he is holy. You are weak, you are bruised and bleeding, you are sinful. Then you are willing to give up your efforts, then you know you cannot change yourself and are willing to say, “crucify me with you Christ, kill this sinful man inside me and raise me to live with you.” Galatians 2:20.
I hope you have experienced this painful, yet glorious reality in your own life. That you are unable to heal yourself, but there is someone who can!