Wednesday, 25 February 2015
The Easter Story: Healing in His Wings
FIRST CENTURY CAPERNAUM, THE MIDDLE EAST.
There was a woman who suffered from a shameful and humiliating condition. For twelve years she had endured it. For twelve years she was considered unclean by her people: she could not enter the temple, she remained untouched by a man.
In her desperation, she had spent all her wealth on the advice of doctors. Instead of getting better, she became worse.
She was sick; she was broken.
There was a man she had heard of. He was able to do great things - he could heal the sick. Perhaps he was was the one the prophet spoke of those many years ago: "The Son of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings."
If she could find him, she thought, she might get better. All she had to do was touch him: just the edge of his cloak. If he did have healing in his wings then just a hem would do - they were the same word in her language after all.
One day, a huge crowd moved through the town. In the centre of it was the man she wanted to find: Jesus. She pushed through the throng of people. She could see him. She was close. She reached a hand out. Then she felt the fabric of his cloak brush against her fingers.
Her bleeding stopped. She had been healed.
The Son of Righteousness has healing in his wings.
(Mark 5:22-34; Malachi 4:2)
As we ascertained last week, sinfulness had led to sickness and brokenness. The world was in need of someone that had the power to heal and restore. The world needed someone that could enter into the lives of ordinary people and treat their disease and piece their shattered lives together.
Jesus did this. Not only did he cure this woman of her bleeding, but he gave the blind sight, the lame the power to walk, the dead life.
I love this episode, because of the simplicity of it hides the deeply nuanced interaction that is going on here. There is a woman, who is ceremonially unclean. She had been constantly discharging blood, something that was considered contaminating and defiling. She would not be able to enter into the temple and she would have been a social outcast. People would not even be able to sit in a chair she had sat upon. She reached out to Jesus, knowing that doing so put him in contact with something that was unclean.
And yet she did this. She must have been so desperate. Perhaps she was clinging on the words of the ancient prophecy that the Son of Righteousness has healing in his wings. It is possible that this instance of wordplay (hem and wings are the same in Hebrew) had given her hope. Indeed, it is not the first time that instance of that particular wordplay had been seen in the Bible. When Ruth asks Boaz to place the edge of his cloak over her, she is reminding him of his words that she would find shelter under God's wings.
Whatever her reason or her thinking, she sought Jesus for healing. And there she found it. Jesus was not defiled by her, but instead she was cleansed by him. It is a deep and holy purity that instead of being tarnished by the unclean, it purifies it.
So it is the pure, nontarnishable healing of the Son of Righteousness that is needed to restore the world.