By: Brenda Rincones, Mayra Rodríguez, Norvi Mayfield, and Nora O. Lozano

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For more than thirty years, I (Nora) have been fascinated with the biblical story about the woman sick with chronic bleeding. I have written about it in different publications, and I often refer to it in my classes. Due to my familiarity with the story, I never thought that it could bring anything more to my life.

According to Mark 5:25-34, this woman had been sick for twelve years. Of course, her problem was physical, but it went beyond that. Leviticus 15 stated that anyone who had a bodily discharge was unclean, and anyone or anything that this person touched would be declared unclean as well. Considering this, it was impossible for this woman to come before Jesus proclaiming her illness, so she quietly approaches him, and seeks to touch only his cloak’s corner.

As she did touch him softly, Jesus recognized power had gone out of him. When he asked about what was happening, he learned that a woman, sick with chronic bleeding, had touched him. Instead of getting upset with the woman for her audacity, or ashamed that an impure woman had touched him, he talks to her, forgives her, praises her for her faith, and sends her away in peace (Mark 5:34).

It is important to note that in this story there are multiple healings. On the one hand, a healing occurs when the woman touches Jesus’ cloak, and her body is healed. On the other hand, she is also healed when, full of fear, she shared the whole truth about her pain, sorrow, and suffering, and how Jesus had finally healed her (Mark 5:33). As she shares her story, and realizes that Jesus was not angry with her, she finds liberation. Since Jesus did not blame her or accuse her, but blessed her, no one would be able to distress or marginalize her anymore due to her previous sickness.

This story represents true healing and liberation as the woman is healed (spiritually, physically, emotionally, and socially), and is now free to live a normal life with the regular people of her time, and to visit all the places that previously were forbidden to her.  

By now, I am sure you can understand my fascination with this remarkable story that illustrates how Jesus can bring complete healing and liberation to a person’s life.

Can the story become better? I did not think so! However, it recently did.

Last November I had the blessing of going to the Holy Land with the goal of encouraging Christian leaders there, as well as visiting some important religious sites. One of these sites was the town of Magdala in Galilee, Mary Magdalene’s hometown.

Magdala has been famous throughout the history of Christianity; however, its significance was heightened in 2009 when important archeological discoveries were found there. As excavations started in order to build a new retreat center and guesthouse, an ancient part of the town started to emerge. Today this place is an archeological area in development, a worship site, a retreat center, and a guesthouse.

As you enter the worship site “Duc in Altum” (launch into the deep water), it is immediately noticeable that this space was designed to evoke and honor Jesus and the women around him. In the building’s lower level, you can find the Encounter Chapel, which is designed after the structure of the Magdala First Century Synagogue. This chapel has an impressive mural by Chilean painter Daniel Cariola that depicts the story of Jesus and the woman sick with chronic bleeding.

Since some members of the CLLI community had the blessing of visiting Magdala and seeing this painting, too, I invited them to reflect on their experience:

Mayra Rodríguez (CLLI North Carolina) shared: “I had the privilege of seeing this famous painting.  Impressive! While some people pay much attention to the feet in the painting, the most amazing thing for me is the woman’s hand that shows an incredible faith that led her to be healed, changed, and restored. Women at that time believed and had faith. Perhaps this is what we lack today. We need to trust and believe in him.”

Brenda Rincones (CLLI Texas) shared: As I see this work, I’m reminded of the secrets we, as women, keep; as many of our moms and grandmothers did not share the struggles they endured. This woman tried to find healing in secret, but Jesus outs her, not to shame her, but rather to free her. Her healing needed to be made public so that everyone would know she was whole, worthy, and should not be excluded. The public declaration of her healing brought glory to God and freedom and wholeness to the woman. Don’t shy away from being vulnerable, for in our openness and honesty before God, God will be glorified, and we will find freedom.”

Norvi Mayfield (CLLI Texas) shared: “As I see this painting, I think about the power that Jesus shared with this woman; a power that affected all the areas of her life. In the same way, I want to touch Jesus, even if it is the end of one of his hairs, because by doing this his power will also affect my life completely: past, present, and future. However, I recognize that today, the only way that we can touch Jesus and have access to his power is by being daily at his feet to constantly discern the steps that we need to follow according to his will.”

As for me (Nora), I did not appreciate fully the power of this painting until I was back home looking at my pictures. We went to Magdala at the end of an enriching, but long day. I was tired as I tried to absorb in one day the richness of the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Arbel National Park, Jesus’ Baptism Site on the Jordan River, and finally Magdala. As I stood looking at the picture, someone suggested for me to extend my hand to the painting. I was asked to move a little more to the right, and I followed the instructions. Then, this powerful picture appeared among the hundreds of pictures that I took during the trip.

I think this picture has become one of the trip’s most significant pictures. Biblical scholar Joanna Dewey suggests that one of the hermeneutical tools that we should use in order to recover the women of the Bible is for us to immerse in the story. In this picture, I am in the story, together with Jesus and the woman. Thus, this picture functions as a constant visual reminder that I need to be brave and daring like this biblical woman. It invites me to reach out to Jesus, full of faith, believing that he can indeed heal all the areas of my life, and give me a future full of peace (shalom). It invites me to reach daily to him as I try to navigate the constant intricacies of life.

What do you think and feel as you see this painting? What is the invitation that Jesus is extending you? What is the example that this woman is giving you?  Think about this, and then take action. It will change your life!  

Brenda Rincones is Founder and Director of the Shine Girls Conference.

Mayra Rodríguez is G&R Services Vice President.

Norvi Mayfield is Director of the Mayfield Foundation, and Consultant in the area of missions  and non-profit organizations.

Nora O. Lozano is CLLI Executive Director.

Photos credit: Nora O. Lozano and Barnabas Team.

Categories: Blog

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