What is healing? It’s a question that has particularly occupied our attention in recent times; whilst all of us have to navigate health issues at various points in our lives, a pandemic brings those into sharp focus. It also begs deeper questions – coronavirus is bad enough in itself, but what about other things that get damaged along the way: emotional wellbeing, friendship circles, livelihoods?
Most of us know that Jesus was able to effect many miraculous physical healings – but today’s passage also reminds us that Jesus saw healing in a much broader dimension. In fact the word for healing and the word for salvation in the New Testament is the same word: sozo. It gets translated ‘saved’ or ‘healed’ according to context, but its root meaning is ‘made whole’.
Wholeness is a big target to aim at. True wholeness means wellbeing on multiple levels: physical, emotional, mental, relational, and yes, spiritual. None of us quite get there this side of heaven: but in our story Jesus looks beyond physical healing. The miracle is remarkable enough in itself: the woman just touches the hem of his cloak and is healed: that is some healing power! But her condition has meant she has been ‘unclean’ for many years: effectively an outcast in society, unable to associate with others much of the time. That is why she tries to stay hidden, and is so backward at coming forward.
For her to be healed only physically is not enough. She might tell people what had happened, but for an internal, ‘hidden’ issue, maybe the community wouldn’t believe her? Maybe she remains unwelcome? Jesus understands this: and so, he stops. And in discovering the woman’s identity and affirming her publicly, he’s not embarrassing her, he’s restoring her to the life of the community. ‘Your faith has made you whole,’ he says to her – not just physically, but relationally too. Now she can hold her head high, now she can make friends again, now she can offer her sacrifices and worship at the synagogue once more.
Jesus comes to make us whole (to ‘save’ or ‘heal’ us) in every way. Let’s be bold to pray all kinds of healing for ourselves, and for others – how could Jesus restore you, or someone you love today?