Have you ever noticed how little hints and clues throughout a book or movie are so much clearer the second time around? You know what to watch for. You can recognize the foreshadowing. Why? Because you know the end. You know what’s coming up.
Every time I read the Bible, I notice more of these little hints and clues. Each time there is another thing that forms a connection. When I was a child, each story was individual and unique. Now, more and more, they tie together in beautiful unity.
Last week as I read Leviticus, I took particular notice of the discussion on cleanliness in Leviticus 15. The chapter lays out the reality of physical uncleanliness due to various bodily discharges, explaining how everything the unclean person touches becomes unclean.
My mind immediately moved forward to a familiar passage from Mark.
A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse— after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” Mark 5:25-34
Suddenly, I saw this passage in a brand new light. I had always thought of the plight of this woman in terms of what she had endured for the previous twelve years. She lived in continual uncleanliness. She could not worship. She could not truly associate with others. Anyone who even offered her a hug would have to bathe and then would become unclean until evening. I can imagine most people just gave up as the years went by.
But this time around, I considered her fear and trembling in approaching Jesus. She knew that anyone she touched would become unclean. Yet she had touched Jesus!
I can only imagine the thoughts that went through her mind. “Oh, how could I have been so selfish! I am healed, but I just made the Healer unclean! Now He cannot touch anyone else today. How will He ever forgive me? How can I face Him? Oh, but I must! I must let Him know what I have done! I am so thankful. So incredibly thankful. But, He must know!”
But there was something she didn’t know. Uncleanliness was not physical. It was spiritual. It was the evidence of imperfection that separated God’s children from His presence. The cleansing was spiritual purification. Jesus, although fully man, could never be marked as unclean. Never. She could not contaminate Him. But, oh how He could purify her!
Just thinking about this reality gives me chills. It sends tears streaming down my face. What joy must have rushed through this woman as she realized the truth!
And what joy rushes through me when I realize that I, too, am purified. And I know the power of it because I can read of the laws in Leviticus and the cleansings in the Gospels.
Thank You, Lord, for cleansing even me!