A Word of Grace – July 11, 2017

Dear Friends,
And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well. Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?” ’ He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease’ (Mark 5:25-34)
This is a story Jesus told about wholeness. Wholeness is the principle that our lives are best lived in the proper balance of the spiritual, mental and physical that God created us to enjoy. I want to share some thoughts on what wholeness means in practice, but let’s first consider the story of the woman suffering from hemorrhages.

The crowd is huge and intimidating. She shouldn’t even be there. Everything and anything she touches becomes unclean as a matter of law, but touch cannot be avoided in the jammed streets of Capernaum.

This is of no concern to her. Twelve years, 4,380 days, 105,120 hours, 6,307,200 minutes of practiced avoidance have taught her how to be invisible where she is unwelcome and that is everywhere. She is skilled at hiding in plain sight.

Something is wrong inside her and has been for a long time–painfully wrong, messily wrong. She’s consulted the experts and tried everything that they have prescribed to her. When the cures failed or her money ran out, whichever occurred first, they stopped talking to her. She is worse than ever: weak, anemic and very alone.

She has no choice in being alone. The Law of Moses is clear with no loopholes–“All the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness; as in the days of her impurity she shall be unclean” (Lev 15:25). Her impurity is ascribed to everything that she touches from bedding to clothing to utensils to people. 

She’s learned long before this that people are only impure from contact with her if they know that she is impure. Gripping her secret tightly has become the occupation of her hands and heart.

She has nothing and is no one to anyone. Her survival is a mystery. Why hasn’t she given up? 

The woman is an anonymous wraith on the edge of the crowd when she hears talk of Jesus. He’s healed a paralytic in defiance of the Pharisees, restored a shriveled hand on the Sabbath, raised a Roman centurion’s servant from the dead, and brought a widow’s son back to life. He’s healed entire crowds of diseases and evil spirits.

Jesus has crossed a lot of boundaries to do this. He’s even touched and healed a leper, and the man was made clean by the touch.  Only God could do such a thing.

In hearing news of the impossible, her long-dormant spirit stirs and flickers, then fades again. Her impurity disqualifies her from approaching Jesus. It will require the sacrifice of her only protection–her anonymity. The meager hope of the shunned and shamed is to be forgotten. To be remembered is to die.

But there is talk that people have been healed by touching Jesus. If she can just squeeze through the jostling crowd and sneak up on him, she might touch his robe as he passes by. He won’t even notice, and no one else will either. If it’s true what they say about him that might be enough.

She edges her way through the crush, a bit of flotsam riding the surge of the eager and the desperate when he walks by. Her reach takes her no closer than a finger-tip graze of the fold of his robe before she is shoved back.

In the moment that follows the touch, everything she has lost is replaced–not restored, but replaced by something new and different, strong and deep. Oddly enough, her body immediately stopped leaking away her physical substance, but the real healing was to her broken heart and parched spirit.
In years to come she will be asked repeatedly what she felt in the moment when she, the untouchable, touched the Son of God. “Full,” she will say which will usually mystify or disappoint her questioners. They want to hear of something akin to thunder and lightning, but she has nothing to offer them, but a peaceful satisfaction of mind, soul and body.

Where there was once ache and exhausted resignation, there is now a comforting, clean coolness surprisingly tinged with joyful anticipation, the way she imagines the earth feels after it’s saturated by the spring rains. This is something she recognizes in her soul even before she can put words to it. Tears of happiness well up from someplace long buried and forgotten inside her.

But her split-second reverie is interrupted. The words, “Who touched my clothes?” jolt her to look at Jesus. He’s stopped suddenly and turned around causing his confused followers to pile up on each other a bit. They murmur and sputter denials.

The burly, bearded fellow she knows as Simon from the local fishing fleet, sighs loudly and says, “Master, the people are crowding in and pressing against you.”

Jesus keeps turning and peering at the crowd. He says, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” He keeps looking around and the disciples and bystanders begin to look too. Only Jairus, the synagogue leader, keeps looking at Jesus and he seems distracted and impatient.

She knows, with the stretching moment, that Jesus won’t stop until he finds her. She will be noticed, and then . . . .

Even the fear of discovery can’t quench the joy that has come alive in her. The turbulent mixture of joy and dread propel her forward in a lurch until she plunges to her knees in front of Jesus and bows her head.

What she can see of Jesus are his feet. They are muscled and calloused, clad in worn leather sandals, powdered with the brown dust of the road. They are the feet of someone on a long journey, which makes their stillness before her remarkable.

She trembles like an olive leaf in the wind. The movement sprays her tears over his feet, but he does not move away. In fact, Jesus bends down toward her. How long has it been since someone did that for her?

Her sobs break loose the story from her heart and it tumbles out in front of Jesus and everyone standing there. She tells him the whole truth–“Bleeding for twelve years. . . suffered a great deal. . . many doctors. . . spent all I had. . . and grew worse. . . . Heard about you. . . know that a woman is not supposed to touch a man in public. . . but I thought if I could just touch your clothes, I would be healed. . . . Came up behind you in the crowd. . . barely touched your robe. . . the bleeding stopped, the pain ended. You did heal me. . . . I am sorry to have troubled you, but thank you, Lord, thank you.”

He speaks to her with the tenderness of a father, safe and assuring. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

This story reads like sunlight through a prism, sparkling and shining in surprising places. The part that causes me to catch my breath comes near the end–“She. . . told him the whole truth.” 

And what would that “truth” be?

Truth is one of those things that people think comes in sizes. There is “whole truth,” the “entire truth,” “complete truth” “half-truth,” “partial truth,” “great truth” and “lesser truth.”

There are grades of truth such as “basic truth,” “essential truth,” “simple truth,” “plain truth,” “easy truth” and “complicated truth.”

Truth may be identified by its source like “divine truth,” “God’s truth,” and “diabolical truth.”

Truth comes in flavors–“sweet” and  “bitter”– and textures–“rough,” “harsh” “hard” and “soft.”

Sometimes truth is classified by age–“ancient truth,” “old truth,” “ageless truth” “modern truth” and “new truth.”

There is a quality of light to truth. It may be “dull,” “shadowy,” “vibrant,” “luminous,” “opaque,” “obscure” or “dark.”

There are those who believe that truth is absolute while others argue that it is relative. Truth that is verifiable regardless of the perspective from which it is observed is objective, while truth that depends on the perspective of the observer is subjective.

If I examine a witness in court, the bailiff will “swear-in” the witness with this oath: “Do you solemnly state that the evidence you shall give in this issue (or matter) shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”[Section 2094 of the California Code of Civil Procedure section 2094(a)(1)]. The “whole truth” under the law is what the witness knows from personal experience to be true as a matter of personal observation.

But where does that leave us with Jesus, who claims “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6)? ” This can be interpreted that Jesus claims to be truth about how we come to God, what God is like for us, and how God works in us. If our test is personal experience, can we experience this truth in Jesus?

What do you think the woman would tell us? When no one would reach out to her, she reached out to Jesus and found the healing she was seeking. More than that she poured out all of  her messy, shameful, tortured story to him, sparing nothing in the telling.

In response, Jesus called her “Daughter.” He sent her on her way — whole, peaceful and free. Jesus knew the whole truth about her and he loved her.

If telling Jesus the whole truth about ourselves can lead to healing and knowing that we are unconditionally loved by him, then shouldn’t we cry out the words of the old hymn, “Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole, I want Thee forever to live in my soul. . . .”?

“Wholeness” is highly valued in contemporary corporate culture. Employees are given instruction on how to achieve “wholeness” illustrated by charts of circles and boxes labeled with the intellectual, physical, spiritual and emotional sectors in precise geometric balance. They are urged to schedule time for “God, family, work, and recreation” in proportional increments.

The story of the woman offers a different perspective on wholeness that’s worth considering. We are prone to pick and choose the best parts of our story and offer them to Jesus in the hope that we will please him and look good in the process. In practice, our pages with the circles and boxes get crumpled and torn and the lines on our carefully-planned schedules smudge and blur.
We have issues and sometimes we can’t seem to stop bleeding out time and effort and peace until our bodies are exhausted, our spirits are anemic and our hearts ache with unrequited longing. That’s because our whole story is full of messy facts and guilty and insecure thoughts and feelings.

Wholeness begins when we take our whole truth to Jesus, kneeling before him, sparing no detail of our failures, broken promises, fear, sins, shame, disappointments, pride, hope, expectation, and time hemorrhaging away.

Wholeness is in hearing Jesus call us “daughter” or “son,” and knowing that all the fragments of our story are accepted by him in love.

Wholeness is the joy of knowing that Jesus knows everything there is to know about us, but he loves us still.

Wholeness is being able to move on in the peace and freedom of knowing that we need not suffer our past because Jesus’ love is our present and future story.

Wholeness is “the fullness of joy” found in his presence (Ps 16:11).

Our wholeness and truth come together in Jesus.

More than that, our wholeness and our truth are realized in Jesus as “God with us.”

If you are feeling incomplete, exhausted from effort that is never enough, cramped of soul and anemic of spirit, it is time to tell Jesus, your whole truth.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who take refuge in him” (Ps 34:8).

Under the mercy of Christ,



Please note that the content and viewpoints of Mr. Hansen are his own and are not necessarily those of the C.S. Lewis Foundation. We have not edited his writing in any substantial way and have permission from him to post his content.


Kent HansenKent Hansen is a Christian attorney, author and speaker. He practices corporate law and is the managing attorney of the firm of Clayson, Mann, Yaeger & Hansen in Corona, California. Kent also serves as the general counsel of Loma Linda University and Medical Center in Loma Linda, California.

Finding God’s grace revealed in the ordinary experiences of life, spiritual renewal in Christ and prayer are Kent’s passions. He has written two books, Grace at 30,000 Feet and Other Unexpected Places published by Review & Herald in 2002 and Cleansing Fire, Healing Streams: Experiencing God’s Love Through Prayer, published by Pacific Press in spring 2007. Many of his stories and essays about God’s encompassing love have been published in magazines and journals. Kent is often found on the hiking trails of the southern California mountains, following major league baseball, playing the piano or writing his weekly email devotional, “A Word of Grace for Your Monday” that is read by men and women from Alaska to Zimbabwe.