Luke 8 contains a bunch of great stories…about halfway through the chapter we get Jesus going across the lake where he meets Legion and casts out the legion of demons. The demoniac is unclean. He is in Gentile territory. He is bleeding. He lives among the tombs where the dead people are. He also lives near a pig farm. Not kosher. Not clean!
Jesus crosses the sea and goes back to the Jewish side where you might expect to find things in better order.
Except you don’t.
More of the same.
He is asked to come heal a young girl by a father who, just like the demoniac, fell at Jesus’ feet (Lk 8:35,41) and while on the way he is touched by a bleeding woman. After she is healed Jesus finally arrives at the house of the sick girl only to find she has died. Jesus touches the dead girl. This would have rendered Jesus just as unclean as being touched by a menstruating woman.
Jesus reverses the purity laws. Those laws say that when unclean contacts clean the clean becomes unclean. But not with Jesus. He takes the unclean and makes them clean. In doing so Jesus restores the bleeding woman to her community as a clean person. It is easy to miss this because we don’t live in their world. To be perpetually unclean as she was for 12 years meant she was not a full part of the community – she would have been a kind of outcast! She touched the tassels on Jesus’ very Jewish clothing and was healed (the same word for hem here is the word used of the Pharisees when Jesus said they keep long tassels on their garments – Matt 23:5)
Last, we have one more interesting connection in the story. The woman has been bleeding 12 years and the little girl is 12 years old. This woman started bleeding around the same time as the birth of this girl, when the girl’s mom would have also been bleeding and been unclean until her purification…it was just that this woman never stopped bleeding. It is hard to know what the 12 signifies. Is it that Jesus is back in Jewish territory and the 12 represents Israel? Is it the clean/unclean connection? I lean more toward the second than the first…I would be curious to hear your thoughts.
Nevertheless – we serve the Lord who is able to take our difficulties…take our impossible situations and turn them into beautiful, unforgettable healing moments! So take your hurts, your pains, your social embarrassment to Jesus and watch him fix it!