Women of Lent: Unclean


Does Jesus reach out to us or do we reach out to Jesus? Yes.

Does Jesus reach out to us or do we reach out to Jesus? Yes.

What would it mean to make the son of God “unclean”?

I can’t believe there’s only a little over a week left in Lent. I have so enjoyed studying and learning from the women that Jesus interacted with during his time on earth, but we’re running out of time and there are still so many women! So, today we are looking at two different women from two different gospels who may never have known each other but who were both healed by Christ, and who both broke religious laws in order to be healed.

There’s the woman with the bleeding problem, perpetually unclean, perpetually rejected, perpetually alone. She has suffered much, paid much, and still she grows worse. She has nothing left.

And there’s the woman crippled by a demon, hanging around the synagogue on the Sabbath. Unable to stand, unable to work, unable to see anything but the ground beneath her.

The first woman, she reaches out. She plans in advance, she finds him in the street. She has heard, and she believes. She knows the laws. Yet she believes that in touching him, in making him unclean, she will become clean herself. She doesn’t ask permission, and still the blood dries up immediately. She intentionally makes the Son of God unclean in order to finally, fully be clean and healed herself. And her faith makes her clean and healed.

The second woman, she’s not looking for Jesus. She may not even know who he is. She’s not breaking the law, she may not even believe that healing is possible. She doesn’t even know that Jesus is there. She is shuffling along, staring at the ground beneath her feet. But Jesus sees her, calls to her, touches her, and she is healed. He names her a daughter of Abraham, an heir of the promise.

The first woman, the one who touched Jesus without permission, she responds to him with fear and trembling and the truth. The second woman, the one who Jesus touches without permission, she responds with praise. But the result for both women is the same- they are both healed.

Because really, whether we found Jesus or Jesus found us, whether we approach Him with fear and confession or with praise and a new name, we are cleansed and healed.

I love that the Gospels include both of these images. That sometimes Jesus sees us when we physically cannot lift our heads to see him, when we couldn’t possibly have been looking to be healed, and he heals us without asking if we even want it, because he knows it will set us free.

And that sometimes we see Jesus when it doesn’t seem like he’s even noticed us and we believe that even when it seems like he’s walking away from our needs, we can reach out in faith and be healed.



This post is a part of my Lenten series called “The Women of Lent”. For an explanation of the series and to see the past posts, check out the posts in the category “Women of Lent“.

Photo by darkmatter via flickr.
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  1. Thank you for this perspective. I just started reading through the New Testament on a reading plan and I read both of these accounts so they are fresh on my mind. I definitely didn’t look at the healing the way you presented them. Thank you!

    1. I’ve just started reading through the Old Testament from the beginning and I’m amazed at what a fresh read through exposes to me that I’ve never thought about before. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Love this post and whole series! Wishing you a blessed remainder of your Lenten season and Resurrection Sunday!

    1. You as well!

  3. beautiful post, rachel! it’s so comforting to know our Savior seeks us out, even when we can’t look for him ourselves!

    1. Amen! And that sometimes when it feels like he’s not looking, we can reach for him as well.

  4. Beautiful! I love the question you used in the introduction, “Does Jesus reach out to us or do we reach out to Jesus? Yes.” Such a cool way to look at it!

    1. I think these stories show that both of those are possible and that trying to choose one way of seeing things doesn’t show the full beauty and complexity of how God relates to us.

  5. “unclean” is a term it’s all to easy to push aside in our own hearts, we look good on the outside so no one else confronts. We are unclean whether we admit it or not and we have a savior that we can reach too. How wonderful!

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