I had always interpreted his comment as reflecting impatience. Perhaps even being infused with a measure of displeasure and annoyance.

Reaching the conclusion that he was irritated because someone had touched the fringe of his robe without his permission.

He, nor those closest to him, had observed who had touched him. But he had felt it.

When he inquired, “Who touched me?” no one stepped forward to answer (Luke 8:45, NRSV).

Everyone in the crowd remained silent.

Then one of his companions suggested that it was likely just the crowd jostling and pressing in close around him (Luke 8:45).

But he had felt it.

Certain that someone had touched him he insisted,  “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me” (Luke 8:46).

“When the woman realized she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed” (Luke 8:47).

“He said to her, ‘Daughter your faith has made you well; go in peace’” (Luke 8:48).

Most commentaries and scholars emphasize the miraculous healing in this passage. That the simple touch of Jesus’ robe was enough to heal the woman and stop her bleeding, when nothing had been able to cure her for 12 years. [1]

Most scholars highlight the woman’s remarkable faith in action. A faith reflected in her belief that if she touched “Jesus’ clothes she would be healed” (Matthew 9:21).[2] Her faith, which had motivated her to touch Jesus’ “kraspedon, the fringe of his prayer shawl, the holiest of his garments” was recognized by Jesus when he said, ‘Your faith has made you well’” (Luke 8:48).[3]

Some scholars focus on her 12 years of intense suffering. Where her “private affliction became a public record” and “every cup she handled, every chair she sat on could transmit defilement to others and “even though her impurity was a considered a ritual matter rather than an ethical one, it had rendered her an outcast, making it impossible for her to live with a husband, bear a child, or enjoy the intimacy of friends and family.”[4]

Others focus more on the fact Jesus did not shame her for touching him, even though she would have been considered “ritually unclean” because she was haemorrhaging (Leviticus 15:19-30).[5] Purity laws stated that, “she was not permitted to enter the temple section reserved for women; nor was she permitted to be in public without making people aware she was unclean. By touching Jesus’ garment, she technically rendered him ceremonially unclean.”[6]

Catherine Clark Kroger states that “women had come to be treated as dirty and polluting during menstruation and should they so much brush against a man at such a time they could be treated to a torrent of abuse and anger. It was her responsibility to keep her contaminating self at a distance.”[7]

Other scholars discuss how she would have been marginalized in that ancient cultural context because she was female, had no male relative to be her advocate, and was without financial resources.[8] All of which “violated the social customs, that prevented any woman from approaching and speaking to a male in public.”[9]

But instead of being indignant and rejecting her for making him “unclean” and breaking social customs, Jesus chooses to make her clean.[10]

He “acknowledges her existence.”[11]

His blessing declares that she was “fully worthy of a miracle.”[12]

But it is interesting to note that few commentaries discuss why it was so important for Jesus to know who had touched him.

Cameron Cole ponders this very question in his book, Therefore I Have Hope  when he writes, “Why does Jesus take (or in the eyes, of a modern audience waste) the time to ask this question? After all, the woman had received the physical healing she needed. The job was done.”[13]

He concludes that,

“Jesus called her out so that the woman would know that God saw her pain. He called her out so that she could be face-to-face with the living God. He called her out so that she would know that God was with her. He called her out to heal the loneliness of her suffering.”[14]

Jesus wanted to see her.

So, he turned about to face her. So he could make eye contact with her.

He wanted her to know that he saw her.

Ensuring that she knew this was about far more than just physical healing.

It was about heart healing. And soul healing.

It was, and is, about showing us how to turn and see the isolated, the marginalized, the outcast, and the broken-hearted.

Being willing to draw in close to the hurting. Willing to lean into the hard and brutal and broken spaces of each other’s lives.

So that all will feel seen.

Embraced. Loved. Have the opportunity to be redeemed and restored.

Welcomed into community. And brought into the fullness of life.[15]

 

 

Photo Credits: used gratefully, with permission:

Tamara Adams Art at,

 

Endnotes:

[1] ESV Study Bible. Crossway, 2008, 1970, 1838.

[2] D. A. Carson (ED.). New Bible Commentary: 21 St Century Edition. Inter-Varsity Press, 2002, 916, 960.

[3] Catherine Clark Kroeger and Mary J. Evans, editors. The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary. Intervarsity Press, 2002, 573.

[4] Ann Spangler and Jean Syswerda. Women of the Bible: a One-Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture. Zondervan, 2015, 324; ESV Study Bible, 1838; Bonnie Bowman Thurston. Women in the New Testament. Crossroad Pub., 1998, 71.

[5] Philip J. King and Lawrence E. Stager. Life in Biblical Israel. WJK, Westminster John Knox Press, 2011, 362.

[6] ESV Study Bible, 1903.

[7] Kroeger and Evans, 529.

[8]  Thurston, 71

[9] Ibid, 71.

[10] New Bible Commentary: 21 St Century Edition, 916.

[11] Thurston, 71.

[12] Carol A.Newsom, et al. Womens Bible Commentary: Revised and Updated. Westminster John Knox Press, 2012, 344.

[13] Cameron Cole. Therefore I Have Hope: 12 Truths That Comfort, Sustain, and Redeem in Tragedy. Crossway, 2018, 126.

[14] Ibid, 126.

[15] Newsom, 483.

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