As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Today, somewhere around 7.6 billion people are on the earth. Each person has their own story, their own past, their own illnesses. Today, more than ever, the crowds are pressing around Jesus. They are looking for healing, for hope.
This woman had been bleeding for over a decade. She had been to everyone—every doctor, every healer—but no one had an answer. I can hear the people saying, “Surely she is suffering because of her sin.” Imagine the stigma surrounding a chronic illness in a time where sickness meant sin. She must have been ashamed, probably even marginalized. “Kids, stay away from that woman over there; she’s done something terrible.”
Today, how many of us feel isolated by shame? How many of us feel alone in a crowd? The bleeding—trauma from childhood, abuse from family or spouses, chronic poverty—just won’t go away. To make it worse, we stigmatize the suffering. We can’t even look at them.
But there is hope, there is healing.
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Here, the gospel is healing: the good news of not being alone, of being a part of a movement, of being a part of a family. Jesus breaks through the stigma. He turns the crowds into communities. He turns the trauma into drama, where the whole audience cries when the catastrophe is unresolved. This audience is the kingdom of God, a family where you can be yourself and be loved, in spite of the sicknesses you come with.
Who is bleeding today? If you follow the blood stains, they don’t lead to houses; they lead to dark alleys and park benches. The people with no place to stay, the people suffering from mental illness, the people whose voices are never heard over their appearance: these are the people who need hope, who need healing. Jesus, on the cross, bleeds with them.
Here, at River City Ministry, we offer this gospel of healing. We offer life in community. Take Samantha for instance. She’s been on the streets for as long as she can remember. She’s been forced to sell herself to live; she got the example from her mother. She has been easy for abusers to take advantage of because of her mental illness; they got her on the drugs. But she found hope on the streets; she found it here when she saw Jesus in the crowd. She ran to him, reaching out, grasping for his robe, and he healed her. She came with him to River City Church, where the positive environment and healthy relationships helped her overcome her drug problem and eased her mental illness. And she stand before him, healed, praising his name to the crowds.
This is the ministry of healing, the ministry of hope.