The Kind of Love I Want to Proclaim

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
–Jesus’ words as recorded in the Gospel of Mark 5:34.

This woman has been bleeding–which is to say, she has been a social outcast, a religious outcast, and in physical pain–for twelve years. She has also spent all her money on doctors who didn’t make her better. She could easily be hopeless, or bitter, or angry. She could easily have lost faith in a God who loves and cares for her.

But then Jesus comes to town, and she hears that he heals people. So she risks mockery and more heartache by sneaking into his presence, attempting to lose herself in the crowd around him, and reaching out to touch his cloak. Immediately, she knew she was healed.

The story could end there. She knows Jesus is the real deal–powerful in word and deed, a conduit of God’s unending care and might, a healer. It seems that the woman tries to sneak away, relieved that she wasn’t caught in the act of stealing Jesus’ healing.

But Jesus doesn’t let her go. He insists that whoever touched him proclaim herself. She’s afraid. What if she was wrong about him, and he wants to shame her? What if he will be angry that she–a poor, bleeding (which is to say, unclean) woman–dared to touch him? What if he condemns her for her actions?

Still, she has the courage to expose herself to Jesus, and from there come his words: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

This might sound like a lovely Hallmark-style sentimental word, but it would be more accurate to call it a shocking statement.

First, Jesus calls her daughter. He names her as related to him (and to God, whom Jesus routinely calls Father) in a tender and intimate way. The story surrounding this one is of Jairus, a religious leader in that town, who is begging Jesus to come heal his daughter. When Jesus calls this outcast woman “daughter,” it comes as a direct comparison to Jairus. Just as Jairus was willing to humiliate himself by asking Jesus to come, just as Jairus would do anything for his beloved child, so too Jesus loves this woman.

Second, it would be really easy to think that Jesus’ power healed the woman. And on some level that’s true. Without Jesus’ healing power, she couldn’t have been healed. But that’s not what Jesus says. He says, “your faith has healed you.” He gives her credit. He affirms her. He empowers her.

Third, in doing all of this publicly, he invites her restoration to her family and community. No longer is she an outcast. No longer is she a victim. Rather, she is a daughter, and a daughter who has powerful faith.

There is certainly a chance that God doesn’t exist and that love like this isn’t possible. But if God does indeed exist, and if God does indeed demonstrate who He is through Jesus, then this is the God I want to worship. This is the love I want to proclaim. This is the relationship I want to say yes to. And this is the story I want to invite everyone else into.

“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

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