She was unclean.
New Thoughts on Jesus’ Miracle
Luke 8:42b-48 records the story of this woman who was healed, through her faith, by touching the edge of Jesus’ cloak. I have always loved this story. The woman’s gumption is admirable and Jesus’ healing of anyone is a cause for joy. Until today, however, I did not consider how her uncleanness affected Him:
“This woman’s sickness was reckoned as if she had a menstrual period all month long; it made her ceremonially unclean under the Law (Lev. 15:19-33) – a social problem on top of the physical one. . .If she touched anyone or anyone’s clothes, she rendered that person ceremonially unclean for the rest of the day. She therefore should not have even been in that heavy crowd. Many teachers avoided touching women altogether, lest they become accidentally contaminated. Thus this woman could not touch or be touched, was probably now divorced or had never married and was marginal to the rest of Jewish society.”
– Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, 211-212.
Jesus Identifies Himself with the Unclean Woman
When Jesus calls this woman forward, then, He is publicly identifying Himself with her uncleanness. Instead of rebuking her, He commends her for her faith. As she has fallen at His feet, He may well have helped her to stand, though this is not mentioned. He tells her to go in peace.
A New Dimension of Grace
This brings to life a whole new dimension of grace. When I sin, which is frequently, or fail to speak the truth when I should, my Savior willingly takes that uncleanness onto Himself when I reach out for healing. He wipes away the stain of sin with His own beautiful, nail-scarred hand.
The world says: She is ugly. She is unlovable. She is worthless.
God says, “She is MINE.”