April 25, 2008

From the Editor Emeritus / John F. Fink

Biblical women: Four whom Jesus healed

John F. Fink(Thirty-seventh in a series of columns)

The Gospels tell us about four instances in which Jesus healed women—or girls in two cases.

The first occurred when Jesus was in Capernaum (Lk 8:40-56). A synagogue official named Jairus asked Jesus to come to his home and cure his 12-year-old daughter. Recognizing the official’s faith, Jesus started to go off with him, followed by a large crowd.

But before they got to Jairus’s home, we get the story of a woman who had been afflicted with hemorrhages for 12 years.

The first-century doctors couldn’t seem to help her. A woman who was menstruating was considered to be ritually unclean and was not supposed to have physical contact with others.

But this woman was desperate. She hoped that perhaps she would be healed if she could only touch part of his clothing—the tassel on his cloak, according to Matthew’s account. (The Mosaic Law prescribed that tassels be worn on the corners of one’s garment as a reminder to keep the Commandments.)

When she did touch Jesus’ clothing, her flow of blood immediately dried up. But Jesus somehow realized that power had gone out of him, looked around and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” (Lk 8:45). The woman approached and told him the whole story. Jesus told her that her faith had saved her and bade her go in peace.

With the woman cured, he continued toward Jairus’s house. They were met by people who informed them that Jairus’s daughter had died. Jesus ignored them and told Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just have faith” (Lk 8:50). Earlier, Jairus had faith that Jesus could heal his daughter, so Jesus told him to just continue to have faith.

When Jesus told the crowd at the home that the girl was only sleeping, they ridiculed him. He took Jairus and his wife to the girl’s bedside and told the girl to get up. She did so immediately, and began to walk around.

A third healing also involved a girl. This time it happened in the district of Tyre, in modern Lebanon (Mt 15:21-28).

A Canaanite woman, not a Jew, approached Jesus and begged him to drive a demon out of her daughter. At first, Jesus demurred, saying that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He even seemed insulting when he said, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs” (Mt 15:26).

The woman, though, was persistent. “Please, Lord,” she said, “for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters” (Mt 15:27). That did the trick. Jesus recognized how great the woman’s faith was, and told her that her daughter was healed. She was.

The fourth healing was of an elderly woman who appeared to be suffering from osteoporosis because “she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect” (Lk 13:11).

She had been that way for 18 years. Jesus laid hands on her and she at once stood up straight. This time it didn’t seem to depend on the woman’s faith. †

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