While visiting Israel, we visited the city of Magdala. Magdala was a major first-century port on the Sea of Galilee, a center of trade and commerce. Another famous aspect of the city came from one notable person, Mary Magdalene. It is unclear whether Mary lived in Magdala or was simply born in the town. Within the city, we visited The Encounter Chapel, on the lower level of Duc in Altum Church. I did not feel well this day so did not look forward to tromping around another site. But, on this visit, I saw something that stuck with me.
First, a little about the Chapel. The Encounter Chapel is first an archeological treasure: the floor is that of the original first century marketplace of the Magdala port. But the part that amazed me was the incredible mosaic that covers most of one wall. The art depicts the story of the bleeding woman touching the hem of Jesus’ robe found in Luke 8:43-48. When I got home, I kept thinking about the artwork, so I ordered a print and hung it where I could see it daily. I’ve included photos of the mosaic in this piece.
Your Faith Has Made You Well
Jesus uttered those words to this woman. In my life, I long to hear God speak those words over me. So what does this story teach us today about our own faith today? Let’s dig in and look for some answers.
Twelve Years before Touching His Hem
The unnamed woman in this Gospel story is a woman who suffered for 12 years from this problem. The passage also tells us she spent all she had on trying to find a cure. So, was this a last-ditch effort for healing? I can relate to this part of her story because I often exhaust all avenues for help before I take it to the Lord. And yet God patiently waits for me to come to him. There is no judgement in his eyes, only love for his hurting children. So maybe we need to take our troubles to God sooner and let him direct our path to the right solution. I want to be a child that seeks to touch his hem with all my problems.
Living in Isolation
The woman’s presence in a large crowd would be unwelcome because she was “unclean.” For twelve years, she watched people skirt around her to avoid the possibility of contact. No hugs or fist bumps allowed. She lived in isolation because of her uncleanliness. Do we allow our fears and problems to keep us isolated? And sometimes healing looks like not letting fear take a hold in your life. Maybe a touch from a friend or loved one in a moment of shame, hopelessness, or deep pain can draw us and back into the community of faith. The woman from the story found a community by touching his hem.
No Healing When We Touch His Hem
This story is not telling us God will always heal us from our situations. Instead, it shows us what it looks like to if we touch his hem in times of pain and heartache, isolation, and loneliness. If we reach out in faith, we receive the gift of truth: he shows us we are beloved and known intimately by our creator. And once we understand this truth, we can become the hands and feet of Christ to reach others. We can show others how touching his hem can change our lives.
Spend time today thinking about a situation when you felt like you were at the end of your rope. Did you reach out to touch his hem or did you pull away to find answers yourself? Ask Jesus to show you where he was during that time in your life? You can still teach out and touch the robe of Jesus today. Let Christ find you wherever you are and meet you in that place.
Dearest Heavenly Father. I want to have faith big enough to reach out to touch your hem. Increase my faith, so I turn to you first in everything. Please meet me with my problems this day and let me feel your loving touch. Heal me of all my health issues. Thank you for your promises and love, even when I fall down in my faith. Amen.