Frail and faltering follower of Jesus

Luke 8 - the woman with the issue of blood (with video)

By Gavin Davies

I was asked to speak to residents of a retirement community about this very precious passage. It tells us a lot about who we are, who Jesus is, and the hope that we have in approaching Him for mercy.

My talk notes follow below:

Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”


Let’s set the scene. How are the players on the stage?

We have an expectant crowd. They’ve seen, or at least, heard about this character Jesus.

Then we have Jairus, a leader of the synagogue, which was where the Jews met for worship. This desperate man had a dying daughter. His ONLY daughter. He falls at the feet of this famous Jesus.

Then we have Jesus, who is known variously as a prophet by some, and a troublemaker by others, who is travelling from a mission of mercy where he cast a demon out of a person. He is identified here as wearing fringes on his robe, as very religious Jews did. He’s clearly a person of some note! As He is begged for another mercy, He sets off immediately.

This crowd is fascinating by Jesus, they are literally all over him.

And then we have “the woman”. Unlike Jairus, we don’t know her name. But we do know her sad story, of a long illness that Matthew and Mark’s accounts of this same event tell us had drained her of all her money, without any relief. I expect many of us can relate to that. Luke, the writer of today’s passage, was a doctor. He knew a thing or two about illnesses. Luke mentions that she was “subject to bleeding” and that would have made her, in Jewish culture, “unclean”, and anything she touched unclean!

So, this poor woman was treated like a leper. She must have been so desperate; an absolute outcast.

And it would be unthinkable for her to come to the Temple. How could she participate in the worship of Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, if she was unclean? Everything she TOUCHED became unclean!

Linking the passage to us

And yet… In desperate faith, she touched Jesus. And something amazing happened. She did not make Jesus unclean - instead, He made her clean. What’s going on there? How does touching a fringe of some holy robe heal a person? And why was this miracle recorded, in the midst of all that Jesus did? Why interrupt his important mission to save a child? What does it have to do with us today in 2024? Another Gospel writer, John, helps us understand:

“But these (signs) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

The primary purpose of miracles is they show us that Jesus is who He says He is. They authenticate Him. And they show who He is in His character and nature. And they invite us to come to Him in faith.

In her shoes

So, with that in mind, put yourself in the woman’s position. I’m a painfully shy person. It’s hard for me to make conversation with even people I know well, and I don’t like crowds. The idea of approaching a famous divine teacher and grabbing his coat in front of a crowd terrifies me, and perhaps you can relate to that.

Imagine you have suffered with an embarrassing issue for TWELVE LONG YEARS, you’ve spent all you have, and you remain an outcast. Try to feel her desperation, try to imagine standing before this man that many are saying is a miracle-working prophet of the one true God, and some are even saying is the promised hero sent to rescue God’s people.

Can you picture yourself, trying desperately to shove through the crowd to the only one who you believe can help you? Can you feel the frustration of 12 years of suffering?

Are the crowd going to stone you? In this society, many people likely knew this woman’s issue. Is the Holy man going to call down judgement upon you?

Can you imagine, kneeling there, every eye upon you, the muttering, the whispering of the crowd? Can you feel your face, red and hot with shame and fear? Can you feel her heart racing and skipping beats in those awful moments?

Can you sense the dread as this Holy man from God turns and looks suddenly at you, knowing that you, an unclean person, have laid hands upon the holy? You felt a power like nothing you ever knew before passing from Him to you; what have you done? Have you robbed God of His blessing and do you now face His sudden, final judgement? He was on His way from casting out demons to save a dying child, and you, an unclean person, have interrupted Him in His work. Have you drained him of his power?!

Can you imagine stammering out your words, explaining yourself to the man everyone is talking about?

And what does He do?

With absolute tenderness, the man that is also somehow God, the Lord, the creator of all things, this man, says “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”. Rather than being judged for her uncleanness, she is saved through her faith.

This busy man, burdened by the cares of all the people, rushing to save a sick child, was interruptible for this suffering woman. He didn’t yell and scream at her. He healed her.

Now, the Greek word used for healing, “sozo”, I am told by smarter people than me, means something like “to be made whole, healed, saved”. It’s the same word for salvation and healing. It’s making right what was wrong. It’s something only God can do.


So let us turn now to how this passage helps us know who Jesus is, who we are, and what Jesus offers us.

This woman bled for years, suffering in uncleanness. We too bleed, or suffer, in many ways. Yet our deepest problem is our uncleanness, or you could call it sin. The Jews of Jesus’ day knew that God was Holy - that is, set apart, pure, perfect, absolutely and entirely good. And us? We are fallen; our ancestors ate the fruit of disobedience to God, and each one of us follows their example.

We, like this woman, are unclean in a perfect God’s sight. There is not one of us without sin. Doctor Luke knew well that no earthly doctor can help us with this woman’s uncleanness, nor with ours.

This sounds like a bleak diagnosis, but I’ve got such good news for you! Doctor Luke also points us to the one Healer for the uncleanness you and I are infected with. Fully man, and fully God, only Jesus was able to bear our sins. Jesus promises; “anyone who comes to me, I shall in no way cast out” (John 6).

To those who come, humbly saying sorry and asking for help, He will say, “Daughter, or Son, your faith has healed you. Go in peace”. If you repent, which means to turn around, ask for mercy, and trust Him, the creator of the world will heal you from the curse of death that sin has brought on us all. And no MATTER what You’ve done, the blood that ran down the cross of Calvary, the blood of the sacrificed God Man, will wash you whiter than white, and though your body dies, you will live forever with Him. It’s not about having perfect faith, it’s about having faith in a perfect saviour and nothing else.

This woman took her opportunity to reach out in faith; don’t pass yours by; “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”. This voice speaks clearly through His word, which you can read in the Bible. Here, he says “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” Matthew 11:28-29. If you need a Bible, ask someone from Minster and we’ll sort you out with one. He says to those who have ears to hear, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32. He was not too busy to make a desperately unclean woman clean. Neither is He too busy for you. He is, after all, God. Ask, and it shall be given unto you. Seek, and ye shall find.

May God bless you and may you know the joy this woman dwells in forever.

Video of an early draft

This is a very early draft of a talk I was called upon to give at a local retirement community.

I’m not a qualified preacher, so I made this draft so I could run it by my church’s elders to make sure I wasn’t making any egregious doctrinal errors.

Having had some valuable feedback from the elders, I made a number of edits for brevity and clarity since this version, but I’m sharing it because perhaps someone out there hears it some day and is encouraged or challenged by it.