Have you ever wondered why Jesus called out the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and embarrassed her? As an Asian growing up in an Asian society, it’s practically taboo to cause a person to “lose face”. But Jesus isn’t someone who’d just conform to cultural norms, as we well know. Here’s the passage:
43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
47 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. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (Luke 8, NIV)
Here is someone carrying a deep, secret shame. A woman’s menstrual flow is considered unclean in biblical times, and to have it ongoing for 12 years, for the doctors to discuss her case and for this issue to be quietly whispered about in her neighborhood — she must have felt so alone and outcast.
And so, she hears of this man Jesus who had the power to heal. Quietly, she sneaked up under the cover of the crowds and received healing from the anointing that was just overflowing from Him. She desired to sneak away quietly too, but it wasn’t to be so.
Jesus called her out in public. Trembling in acute embarrassment, fear and shame, she testified to her healing to those around her.
There were a few reasons why Jesus called her out: First, this public testimony served to tell the neighborhood that she was “clean”, and there was no need to shun her. Second, making her speak out about it made the healing real to her. Third, it gave Jesus the opportunity to affirm her faith — not just because she went to Him, but that she persisted for 12 years to look for healing and didn’t give up. Indeed, she had faith that she would be healed, and she was.
But I also think that Jesus was enabling her to take a stance against the strongholds of shame and secrecy that had been haunting her for over a decade. In order to be free, she had to do the opposite of what she had been habitually doing, and Jesus made her take the first step.
Do you need to take a stance against the stronghold of shame and secrecy? For sin — whether you did it, or others did it to you — opens the door to shame, which opens the door to secrecy. Secrecy gives the enemy the power to mentally torment. Mental torment, as we know, often results in physical ailments.
Confession to the right person is powerful and effective to stop the cycle.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5, NIV)