Written by Summer Sneed
In Mark 5, we read the story of two people who had life-changing encounters with Jesus: a suffering woman and a sleeping girl.
The woman’s life was difficult and full of misery. Her identity in her community and culture was defined by her deteriorating physical condition. This made her unclean according to the purity laws of Leviticus 15. Under this identity, anything or anyone she touched became unclean. This limited her interactions with people. Intimate relationships and friendships were perhaps impossible because of her physical condition. For 12 long years, she felt shunned and lonely, isolated in the identity of her suffering.
But one day, she heard that Jesus was visiting her town. The stories of His healing power had preceded Him. With desperate faith, the woman who was not allowed to touch anything, decided to sneak quietly through the crowds and get close enough to Jesus to touch his clothes. When she touched Jesus, she was instantly healed and set free from her suffering. Interestingly, she did not announce her healing to the crowds but actually tried to walk away from Jesus as quietly as she had approached Him.
Even though she felt in her body and knew in her mind she had been set free, she was still walking in the same old identity. She was trying to sneak away unnoticed and unseen. As she moved away, Jesus did something remarkable. He asked a very interesting question: “Who touched me?” Now, of course Jesus knew the answer to this question. So, why did He bother asking? He wanted to not only heal her that day, but He wanted to do something even more important. He wanted her to see that when she touched Him, her identity had changed and that she was no longer under the identity of her suffering.
As soon as she touched Him, she took on a new identity, and Jesus didn’t want her to walk away without recognizing it. What was this new identity? This story can be found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke with slight variations in each account, but one thing remains constant. Jesus called her “daughter.” The woman may have come to Him unclean, unnoticed, and untouched, but He wanted her to walk away without any doubt about her new identity as His daughter.
The same is true for us. Some may fear to approach Jesus. We think we are beyond the hope of healing from the sin we have committed or the suffering we have endured. The truth is that we don’t have to quietly sneak up to Jesus like that woman, we can run to Him, embrace Him in confidence, and find the healing and freedom from our sin and pain. Perhaps some of us have been saved for many years, and yet we keep walking in an identity defined by our past. No matter what our history may be, Jesus calls us His daughters, and we can live out that identity in freedom.
Jesus’ encounter with this woman happened as He was on his way to visit a sick little girl. The girl’s father had requested Jesus to visit their home and heal her. While Jesus was healing that woman, Jairus received news that his daughter had died. Jesus overheard what they told Jairus, but He kept walking towards Jairus’ house. He found a group of mourners gathered at the home, but He completely ignored their noise and wailing. They cried out, “She is dead.” Jesus said, “She’s sleeping.” Then he entered her room and woke her up.
There are many loud voices in our world that want to label us and tell us who we are. Often, those identities are in conflict with what Jesus says about us, and we must choose to believe what Jesus says about us above any other voice. No matter what others have called us or what the enemy has whispered in our ears, only Jesus speaks the truth of who we are.
Some of us might be sleeping on the identity and the calling that Jesus has given us, and He wants to wake us up from our slumber and idleness so that we can actively fulfill our purpose as daughters of the King. I like for my 2-year-old son to take naps, but he usually puts up a fight when I tell him to sleep in the middle of the day. He will point outside and say, “Look, Mommy, it’s daytime. It’s not nighttime. It’s not time for sleeping.” Jesus is saying the same thing to every girl and leader in IPHC Girls’ Ministries: “It’s not the time for sleeping, my daughters. Arise, wake up!”
The woman’s identity of suffering had begun around the same time the little girl was first born, and interestingly both ended on the same day. When they encountered Jesus that day, they both experienced restoration and resurrection. Thankfully, we can too.