Day Thirteen: Wednesday, June 24th, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 9:18-38
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“No longer alone”
Our readings this week have focused on how Jesus not only preaches and teaches, he also reaches out with the love of God. This began when he touched the leper in the first verses of chapter 8. Following quickly one after the other are stories of the centurion and his servant, a visit to Peter’s house where not only is Peter’s mother-in-law healed but many others. Two demon-possessed men are set free, a paralytic receives the gift of forgiveness and the ability to walk, Matthew leaves his tax collectors booth and soon hosts a party for Jesus, and now in our readings this morning a dead girl is raised to life, two blind men receive sight and a man who was mute receives the gift of speech. In the midst of all these miraculous examples of Jesus reaching out to touch the lives of ones in desperate need there is the woman who has suffered from bleeding for twelve years. In a very real way, her story stands alone.
The story of the woman who suffered with bleeding for twelve years stands alone because she was alone…all alone.
- The ill servant had a master, the centurion, who intervened on his behalf.
- Peter’s mother-in-law had a family network, including that disciple who would play such a pivotal role in the gospel.
- The demon-possessed men had each other…there were at least two of them.
- The same with the blind men…two of them as well.
- The paralytic was carried to Jesus on a mat…the other gospels tell us his friends carried him.
- The man who was mute was also brought to Jesus. He had someone to bring him to Jesus.
- The little girl who died had her father, and a whole host of others at her home, flute players and a crowd who gathered to mourn.
- The leper had no one with him. Like the woman, he too was alone. But he did have Jesus. He had the attention of Jesus. He knelt before Jesus and made his plea.
The woman who suffered from bleeding was apparently unnoticed even by Jesus. She was truly alone. Mark tells us a large crowd was pressing around Jesus. This even heightens the sense that she was alone. She was in a crowd, surrounded by others, and yet she was alone. The woman who suffered from bleeding was all alone, unnoticed even by Jesus.
With the leper, it was Jesus who reached out and touched. Here in Matthew 9 we see yet another beautiful illustration of how Jesus impacts the lives of real human beings, real human beings who suffer from illness, real human beings who suffer from isolation. The woman reaches out and touches Jesus. Jesus is not untouchable. Her act was bold, but she was not rebuked. She was not shamed. Instead of rebuke or shame, when Jesus addresses the woman he calls her a word that must have warmed her heart. Jesus calls her, “Daughter.” With one simple word Jesus let this woman know she had people…she had relationships…she had a family. She belonged. She was no longer alone. And neither are we.
“The men and women listening to this passage who may be contemplating their own ailments or questioning their own worthiness should be encouraged by the universal accessibility this story ascribes to Jesus. Ministers and other leaders may find their lofty positions all the more precarious as they listen to the hypocritical denunciations of the scoffing Pharisees, yet they can find comfort in the attention Jesus pays to a synagogue leader who approaches him with a father’s plea. Those in the congregation who are sitting with invisible pains or who do not feel comfortable with voicing their concerns can be reassured by the inclusive invitation Jesus extends to Matthew and inspired by the plucky faith of a longsuffering woman.” (Alexander Wimberly, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 3, p. 120)