In high school, I had some friends who called me Casper. Being a redhead means I’m whiter than the average girl. Ghostly white, in fact. So this was slightly more creative than Red. And at least Casper was a friendly ghost.
Nicknames have been around for a long time. Even in the Bible, some people are known only by their nicknames — such as “the woman at the well” or “the poor widow” or “the sinful woman.”
One woman is called the “bleeding woman.” I love her story, but I don’t like the nickname she’s been given. What a terrible nickname to have to go by for thousands of years. I’ve thought a lot about her. And more than anything, I want to know her name.
Jewish law declared the nameless “bleeding woman” as “unclean.” To be “unclean” meant to be untouchable. Literally. Imagine what that would be like. Nobody can touch you or else they will become unclean and untouchable too. You can’t go to church because nobody can touch you. You can’t sit on a pew or in a chair because you will contaminate that chair for everyone else. Nobody can come to your house, sit by your bed, hold your hand, and pray with you.
This sounds like the meanest case of “you’ve got cooties” I’ve ever heard of.
If I had to choose, I would take Red or Casper over Unclean any day.
The “bleeding woman” was like a leper — someone who couldn’t be touched. In some ways, even as awful as leprosy undoubtedly was, and is, I can’t help but think that this woman had it worse. Yes, lepers were socially ostracized. They had to live together in a leper colony. At the very least, though, they had each other. They suffered together.
This woman had to suffer completely alone.
Jairus, the well-respected synagogue ruler, could invite Jesus into his home to lay hands on his daughter to heal her, but this woman couldn’t ask Jesus to come to her house. She couldn’t even ask Jesus to lay his hands on her to heal her. By doing so, that would make Jesus “unclean” according to the law.
So as Jesus walked to Jairus’ house, she probably tried to conceal herself with a shawl. She hoped not to draw attention to herself as she approached Jesus from behind. She just wanted to touch the edge of his cloak. And when she did, her bleeding stopped.
Jesus turned and asked, “Who touched me? I know that power has gone out from me.”
Seeing that she could not go unnoticed, she fell at his feet, trembling with fear. Since she touched Jesus, He would be unclean now too. This would prevent Jesus from entering Jairus’ house, which would prevent Him from healing Jairus’ daughter because that would make all of Jairus’ house and everyone in it unclean too. The little girl might die because of her!
Perhaps this was her thinking. I don’t know.
But Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Jesus isn’t worried about the labels that make people social outcasts. <Tweet that!>
God sees past what others see. God sees past the nicknames we’re called — the ones that make us feel unclean and unworthy, untouchable and unlovable.
We serve a God who touches the untouchable, and He calls us to do the same. <Tweet that!>
Notice the name Jesus called the bleeding woman: Daughter.
Have you ever been given a nickname?
Do you have a story you’d like to share?
Leave a link below!
I’m reading the New Testament,
and you’re invited to join me.