“…who had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.”There were many options for this lady to find healing. The Talmud lists eleven. In Lightfoot’s Commentary we are made privy to a few of the more ridiculous ones:
- “Take of gum Alexandria, of alum, and of crocus hortensis, the weight of a zuzee each; let them be bruised together, and given in wine to the woman that hath an issue of blood.
- But if this fail, “Take of Persian onions nine logs, boil them in wine, and give it to her to drink: and say, Arise from thy flux.
- But should this fail, “Set her in a place where two ways meet, and let her hold a cup of wine in her hand; and let somebody come behind and affright her, and say, Arise from thy flux.
- But should this do no good, “Take a handful of cummin and a handful of crocus, and a handful of faenu-greek; let these be boiled, and given her to drink, and say, Arise from thy flux.
- But should this also fail, “Dig seven trenches, and burn in them some cuttings of vines not yet circumcised (vines not four years old); and let her take in her hand a cup of wine, and let her be led from this trench and set down over that, and let her be removed from that, and set down over another: and in each removal say unto her, Arise from thy
- One was that you had to carry the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen bag in the summer and transfer them to a cotton bag in the winter...
- Another was that you had to carry around on your person a barleycorn that had been found in the dung of a white she-ass**
This issue of blood would have left her ceremonially unclean. So, this is more than just a physical malady. This is something that is hindering her worship and making community almost impossible. This woman is in much pain.
One day she hears of Jesus. Maybe he can help. She probably thought to herself “I’ll drink anything, touch anything, be told anything, etc. I just want to be healed. This guy seems pretty powerful so perhaps if I touch the hem of his garment I will be better”. Maybe it was superstition and Jesus was just another name on her list of “Junk I’ve Tried”.
Or maybe not. We don’t know.
But what we do know is that she grabbed hold of the only thing—the only Person—that could actually give her healing. That which potions, doctors, magical chants, and ostrich eggs could not fix Jesus was powerful enough to heal by her touching his robe.
Dung Sifting in the 21st Century
There is a lesson here for us as well, because we are like that woman. We would often rather feed a donkey some barley, follow him around with a pooper-scooper, and sift through his dung than we would actually follow Jesus. Because if I get my hands stained with donkey excrement I can at least say that I’m dedicated and that I discovered my own cure.
Actually we are worse than that woman. She didn’t have a dusty Bible sitting on her shelf. She hadn’t heard of Jesus. She only knew of a few remedies to “Arise from thy flux”. Not us. We know Jesus. We know his power. And yet for some reason we still shuffle through donkey dung looking for barleycorn while we neglect Life Himself.
Today I want to be humble enough to take my burdens to Jesus. I want to start, progress, and end with trusting Jesus to make me “Arise from thy flux”. (Though I’m not certain if dudes can have a “flux” or not). I want to find all of my feeble solutions to healing and discard them on the way to following Jesus. Only Jesus. Only Jesus.
**As a side note if a preacher wants to wake up the snoozers a sure remedy is to say the words “white she-ass” in your sermon. That will wake them up. It may be the last Sunday you preach…but you’ll have their attention for at least a couple of minutes.