I don't mean to be offensive, or glib...I just have to tell you, that sometimes, I feel guilty that I have cancer. Cancer-the Boogeyman of disease and sickness. The one that commands respect-compassion-service-unconditional love. And, I am the recipient of all of these, because I-have cancer.
I can't help but think how different this experience would be if I had something else. Something less feared, and more loathed. Something less well known, and more inviting of skepticism. And what if I had something contagious?!
There's a sick woman in the Bible in The gospel of Mark, chapter 5. She did not have cancer. We know her as "the woman with an issue of blood", and she had it for 12 years! Furthermore, what she had made her "unclean". Someone to avoid, or your whole day was going to be spent in purification rites. Someone who-who knows?-might be contagious!
And if you know the story, you know that she secretly reached out and touched Jesus' clothes-believing it would be enough to heal her.
And it was! She was healed: "Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction." (Mark 5:29 NKJV)
Fantastic! Jesus didn't have to be bothered, and she could move on in relative anonymity.
But Jesus was bothered. He made a big deal out of it. "Who touched me?."
Why would Jesus embarrass her like this? And, furthermore, why should Jesus (Son of God) have to ask such a question?
You see, Jesus was bothered, not by the indignant act of someone touching Him-neither did He worry that His question would make Him seem more human and less deity-but, He simply couldn't let her leave with only a partial healing.
"But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. (Mark 5:33 NKJV)
Which He already knew. It was she-and everyone else that needed to know "the whole truth".
Which Jesus related perfectly, in His response to her:
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34 NIV84)
Do you see what Jesus accomplished in 2 sentences? Look closely:
"Daughter"-He identified her with a term of endearment, effectively calling her family.
"your faith"-He commended her to others (who had looked sideways at her and her problems-that she'd most likely brought on herself).
"has healed you"-He proclaimed her well. So that everyone would know, and no one would be able to doubt. (And if they did, they would be doubting Jesus- not this "undesirable woman").
"Go in peace"-She could exhale now.
"and be freed"-No more restraints.
It wasn't enough for the woman to be physically healed. Jesus wanted to restore this "daughter" completely and unequivocally.
I have cancer. And as far as cancer's go, I have a very manageable one.
I am lucky.
Let's look around us for the women "with the issue of blood".
Let's touch them.
Let's call them daughter and sister.
Let's pray for their healing. Let's free them from their suffering at the hands of-not their diseases-but their fellow man.
We have such power: peace and freedom are ours to bestow.
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