by Alex Morgan
Who was the woman who was cured of hemorrhaging when she touched Jesus' garment?
|Rachel stumbled across the town center, toward a tree which might provide some relief from the relentless Mediterranean sun. Anger clouded her thoughts and her vision blurred. Her sudden dizziness hampered her progress.
She leaned against the rough bark, enjoying the relative cool of the shade. She dropped her empty basket to the ground next to her.
“Physicians,” she spat. “What use are they? None at all.”
Rachel remained under the tree until her blurry vision and lightheadedness subsided.
But not her anger. She watched the townsfolk pass by as they went about their daily lives. Their sandals created a cloud of fine dust from the sunbaked ground. A few acquaintances greeted her by name.
Rachel put on a brave face as she returned at their greetings. Some inquired about her general well-being. She smiled at their concern.
“I am most well,” she lied. “And thou?”
The encounters lasted only seconds to her relief, but they reminded her that she was conspicuous even in a crowded square.
“I need to return home,” she said to herself, picking up her basket.
As she stepped from the refuge of the tree into the bright sun, she instinctively raised her arm to shield her face. The sleeve of her garment slid down past he elbows, revealing an arm covered with purple blotches ringed with yellow skin, and black patches in between.
Rachel covered up her arm and retreated back under the tree. She glanced around hoping no one had seen. A wave of exhaustion washed over her, and she broke down in sobs.
“Twelve years,” she cried. “Twelve years of dealing with bruising and bleeding if I so much as bump into a piece of furniture or if someone bumps into me. My legs. My arms. My entire body. And those useless physicians with their foul-tasting medicine sand rancid-smelling poultices. Nothing works, yet they claim they can cure me.”
Her tears gave way as her anger returned. She managed to calm down and head out into the town square. She paid little attention to the person running past her, but when a second, then a third flew by, she realized the crowd was moving quickly in one direction.
“Sarah,” Rachel called out to a familiar figure passing by. “What is the excitement?”
“Hast thou not heard?” Sarah's eyes were wide open, and her mouth stretched into a huge smile. She clasped Rachel’s hands in her own. “Jesus of Nazareth is coming here!”
Rachel's heart skipped a beat. “I have heard much of this Jesus. I am told he does miraculous things. Even cures people. I wonder if he could...”
She caught herself before she revealed her condition.
“Come,” Sarah said, pulling Rachel’s arm. Rachel let her lead through the town. People ran past them, knocking into them or shoving them aside.
Rachel's thoughts ran a mixture of anticipation and surrender. She no longer worried about her hemorrhaging and contacting other people. Nothing could be done. Death would be welcome at this point.
Perhaps Jesus can help. He's my last hope.
But how would she approach him? Would she even be able to get close enough?
The crowd pressed in on all sides, but Sarah kept a tight grip on her arm. This would cause another bruise, but Rachel was beyond caring now.
Shouts of ‘Jesus’, ‘Hosanna’, and ‘Messiah’ drowned out all the other noise. Then she spotted him through the mob. She had never seen a more handsome man. His dark curly locks hung almost to his shoulder. His dark eyes and bright smile lit up his olive-skinned features. All hope of approaching him vanished.
“How can I speak to the son of God? I am nothing. And yet...”
Rachel could not walk away. Whether Sarah’s iron grip on her wrist or her own determination, she did not know, but she stepped closer to her friend, taking comfort in her presence and tenacity as Jesus drew nearer.
“Maybe I won't have to speak to him. Perhaps if I just touch his robes, I will be cured."
Her heart raced and the dizziness and blurry vision return, but Rachel held fast. Sarah’s cheers joined those of the throngs Jesus stepped within Rachel’s reach.
She thrust out her free arm and grabbed him of his robe. The fabric radiated a warmth unlike the stifling heat of the sun. It coursed up through her arm and over her entire body.
Jesus moved forward and his robe slipped out of her grasp, but Rachel hardly noticed.
As the warmth enveloped her, she watched in awe as a purple, yellow and black spots in her wrists vanished, leaving unblemished skin.
She pulled her arm from Sarah and lifted her sleeves. Healthy, slender arms. She raised her skirts to her knees. Now was not the time for social decency. Her calves and ankles glowed with beautiful, olive tones. No bruises anywhere. She clasped her body through her garments. Rachel did not have to peer inside to know that her hemorrhaging had been cured.
Just like that.
With only a touch.
Rachel suddenly realized the shouting had silenced and the crowd stopped pushing and shoving.
“I said ‘who touched me’?” Jesus said. He spoke in a soft, low voice yet it seemed to carry across the city.
Rachel froze in fear.
He can't think it was me. There are so many people here. It must have been someone else.
The men following Jesus asked him similar questions.
“Master, there are many people here. How can you ask who touched you?”
“Why does it matter?”
“I felt power leave me,” Jesus said, turning and searching the mob.
Trembling, Rachel shrunk back, pressing against the people behind her, hoping to avoid his gaze, but they would not move. The expression on Jesus’ face did not appear to be one of confusion or of anger, more like amusement. His lips quivered as if suppressing a smile or laugh.
He turned and his look fell on Rachel. His dark eyes bored into her soul, encompassing it in a gentle hug. His smile cooled her skin like a soft, refreshing breeze.
Rachel could not hide anymore. Shaking uncontrollably, she threw herself at Jesus feet, her face pressed to the ground.
“Forgive me, my Lord,” she cried. “I've been suffering from bruises and bleeding for twelve years. No one can heal me. I've spent everything I have trying to be cured. I am unclean. I have no husband. I am childless and a disgrace to my family. I am almost reduced to begging to survive. Somehow, I knew if I but touched your garment, I would be healed.”
Her words tumbled forward in a rush, made almost incoherent from her fear and sobbing.
To her surprise, Jesus chuckled. Then a hand clutched hers and pulled her to her feet.
As she looked up, Jesus smiled down at her.
“Daughter, your faith has healed you,” he said. “Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
Rachel's knees weakened and she would have collapsed if Sarah had not grabbed her. Jesus released her hand, but not her heart.
To her relief, a man ran up to Jesus, asking for help with a young girl near death. Jesus turned to follow and walked away. Rachel slumped to the ground, despite Sarah holding her.
“Rachel,” Sarah said in an excited, breathless tone. “Thou hast been blessed by the son of God! He touched thee! What did it feel like?”
Rachel sucked in a deep breath and stood, firmly planting her feet. She hugged her friend.
“I cannot describe how relieved I am and how good it feels to be healthy again. I had forgotten I had ever been well. I cannot remember a time in my life without this horrid curse. Now it is time for me to present myself to my family, that I am no longer unclean. Praise Jesus!”
Rachel kissed Sarah on both cheeks and set off in the direction of home, head held high.