The Woman with the Issue of Blood – 12 Study Points

Bible Study Lesson 04/30/2016

Key Scriptures:  Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34, Luke 8:43-48

Introduction:

All three synoptic Gospels record the encounter of Jesus and the unnamed woman with the issue of blood. All three mention the length of time during which she had been suffering. Eusebius records a tradition that she was a Gentile, a native of Caesarea Philippi. This disease was a chronic hemorrhage, for which she had found no relief from the physicians. Lightfoot, in his ‘Horae Hebraicae,’ gives a list of the remedies applied in such cases, which seem quite sufficient to account for Mark’s statement that she was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse. Luke, himself a physician, says that she “had spent all her living upon physicians, and could not be healed of any.” (Pulpit commentary)

  1. Her Character and Her Dilemma: We don’t know her name, but we do know her situation. We don’t know all the intricate details about her resources, but we do know her need. Her world was midnight black.  Grope in-the-dark and hope-for-help black. 1She was a bruised reed.

2. [1] The Hebrew children would often go down by the riverside to play. There was where the reeds grew. One of the things these reeds were useful for was that they made good flutes. So the children would cut them down, hollow them out and make flutes out of them. The riverbank would be full of these reeds, and many of them were less than perfect. If they came across one that was cracked or bruised, they would break it in half and toss it away. After all, they needed reeds of a certain quality in order to make a flute that would play well. Cracked or bruised reeds were worthless. Bruised reeds can easily be seen as symbols of people… in the eyes of the people that inhabited her world. She was bruised reed.

3. Mark 5:25 discharge of blood: The woman’s condition was not only physically debilitating, but it disqualified her from marriage ( 20:18) as well as religious life in general (Lev. 15:25–33)

4. The woman with prolonged menstruation suffered for 12 years from being ritually unclean. This meant she was unable to live a normal life, and was in a sense dead to the people around her.

5. Strictly speaking, she should not have been among   other people. According to the laws of ritual purity, she should have been at home during her menstrual period, living quietly (see Leviticus 15:19-31).

6. But the woman in this story was not healthy. Her menstrual flow had lasted twelve years, so the purity laws had become an impossible burden for her. She could not go out, she could not touch members of her family, she could not enjoy a normal life, and she was constantly debilitated.

 7. She was a woman of faith: (Mark 5:27-28) She could not throw herself, therefore, at the feet of Christ and state her complaint. Her modesty, humility, uncleanness and pressure of the crowd made close contact nearly impossible, hence her eagerness to touch in some unnoticed way the hem of His garment.                                                                  

8. This poor lady had sought all kinds of medical care and the doctors were no help: (Mark 5:26) William Barclay says in his commentary, that “the Talmud gives no fewer than eleven cures” for such an illness. Can you imagine, eleven different treatments … no doubt she had tried all of them. Even the illegitimate ones such as carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen cloth. But when you’re desperate for a cure, when you’re long overdue for some relief… anything to make you whole again…. Yes you might even consider hollow superstitions. She “had spent all she had”. So desperate was she for some kind of cure she kept throwing good money after bad. The money had finally run out and now to add insult to injury she has to deal with financial strain dumped on top of physical strain.

9. A Risky Decision: By the time she gets to Jesus, He’s busy and surrounded by a crowd of people.  Jarius, the most important man in the community, had summoned him to help his daughter and Jesus was in route.  Her window of opportunity was closing quickly and what little hope she had was fading. This woman is down to her last prayer and she is about to pray it.  What are the odds that Jesus will interrupt an urgent mission with an important official to help her?  Very few. But twelve years is a long time and what are the odds that she will survive if she doesn’t take a chance? Fewer still. Her back was up against the wall and against all odds… she steps out on faith and takes a chance. This is how the Amplified Bible describes the incident: Scripture says that she had heard the reports about Jesus and verses 27 & 28 state, “She slipped in from behind and touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can put a finger on his robe, I can get well.” It was a risky decision. You should know this morning that exercising Faith means you must be willing to take some risk. To touch Jesus she had to touch the people.  To get to Jesus she had to get pass the roadblocks. She had to get pass the possibility of rebuke, she had to get pass the possibility of being recognized. But what choice does she have? Our lady of faith is flat broke, she doesn’t have any clout like Jarius, she doesn’t have any friends, and she doesn’t have any solutions. All she has is a premonition, an intuitive feeling that Jesus can help her and a high hope that he will.

10. She Was Cured After Many Failures. What this poor woman really endured at the hands of the medical men of the time is left to the imagination. Where men failed, Christ succeeded. Down the ages men and women which no agency could reclaim have been restored by Christ. What is not possible with men is blessedly possible with God. Her disease was of long standing yet she was swiftly healed, for as soon as she touched the hem of His garment, “straight-way the fountain of her blood was dried up.” If a person suffers for a while from a complaint and seeks no medical advice, but in the end goes to the doctor, he invariably says, “You should have come to me sooner.” But it is the glory of Christ that He can heal those who come late to Him.

11. She Acknowledged Receipt of the Benefit Bestowed: As soon as the woman touched Christ’s garment, He felt that “virtue had gone out of Him,” and turned about and said, “Who touched me?” The disciples mildly rebuked Jesus by saying, “Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?” Perhaps her touch had been unnoticed by the eyes of those around, and she must have been one of many who touched the Master that day as he proceeded on His errand of love, but a touch of faith could not be hidden from Him. Quickly the Physician saw the patient and trembling with self-consciousness but too glad and grateful to falter, she confessed to her touch of His robe. “She told him all the truth.” She experienced that open confession is good for the soul. What a glow of gratitude her countenance must have had, as she publicly stated that her burden for twelve years had rolled away!

12. She Was Commended for Her Faith: The crowd who listened to her confession also heard the Savior’s benediction, “Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” As a true daughter of Abraham (Luke 13:16), her faith is crowned by the Master. Hers was not faith without a touch, or a touch without faith. Believing, she appropriated and was healed. “Daughter,” was an endearing term for Jesus to use. Some tender insight of His own must have prompted Him to use it. As Theron Brown puts it so beautifully— The restored sufferer would never forget the friendly benignity that assailed her with one indulgent epithet or the sympathy in that endearing term by which the Messiah of Israel recognized her as His own…. She cherished her debt to the Man of Galilee.

 

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The Woman of Samaria – 8 Study Points

Key Scriptures:  John 4:1-42

  1. Her Character and Her Dilemma:

Her first problem was that she was a woman. Her second problem was that she was a Samaritan woman. And to complicate matters more, she was a sinner Samaritan woman.

  A. In Jesus’ day, women were not liberated, as we say. They were not allowed to worship with men. In their morning devotions, Men would include this politically incorrect prayer, “Thank God I wasn’t born a gentile, thank God I wasn’t born a slave, thank God I wasn’t born a woman.” Can you imagine that today? Women had no place in public life at all. They were not to be seen or heard, especially by holy men.

B. She was a SAMARITAN woman. She was considered a half-breed. She was a cross between the Israelites and the Assyrians. Between the Jews and the Samaritans there was an embittered hatred. Hundreds of years before, the Assyrian kingdom conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. The ancient conquerors displaced the people, sent them off into the southern kingdom of Israel and those who remained in the northern kingdom over the years intermarried with the Assyrians. They were thought to be “half-breeds.” They were a despised and hated people; full pagans as far as the purists were concerned; in the eyes of the Jews they were a people for whom God no longer had any concern. The Samaritans committed what to the Jew was an unforgivable crime. They lost their ethnic purity.

C. She was a sinner Samaritan woman. She comes to the well at high noon of day, not the time most women come. The fact that she came at high noon tells us a lot about this woman.  Most women, the respectable women of the community came in the cool of the day to draw water. She was alone. Only women of notorious character would come in the middle of the day.   But perhaps she is here at this time in order to avoid the taunts of the other women and being the brunt of the town gossip. Also please note the exchange in verses 15-18.

2. Jesus Travels to Samaria for Her: (John 4:4)

And he must needs go through Samaria. (KJV)

Now [a]He had to go through [b]Samaria. (NIV, AMP)

4 This time he had to go through Samaria. (CEV)

He came to that well for her. If you read that entire passage, you will see that the only thing Jesus did was talk to her. He changed His itinerary for her. Remember in verse 4 it said:  “But He needed to go through Samaria.” Whenever John uses the impersonal verb dei’ the necessity involves God’s will or plan: (3:7, 14, 30; 4:4, 20,24; 9:4; 10:16; 12:34; and 20:9) [1]

[1] Strong’s Concordance

dei: it is necessary

Original Word: δεῖ
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: dei
Phonetic Spelling: (die)
Short Definition: it is necessary, inevitable
Definition: it is necessary, inevitable; less frequently: it is a duty, what is proper.

The usual route would be to cross the Jordan in the south and travel up the Eastern side of the river to avoid Samaria. Jesus changed His travel plans in order to go through Samaria and the only thing he did there was to meet this lady. He came for her. Went out of His way for her…

3. Jesus Asked Her For A Favor: John 4:7

Look at what it says in verse 7: “Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”  Notice she is in the ordinary day, doing an ordinary something, and here comes Jesus seeking her out, asking her for a drink of water – a huge scandal in that day, because no man, no Jewish man, would ever ask to drink from the same cup or bucket as a Samaritan woman. His physical body had a need and he asked this sinner woman to meet the need of his physical body. His physical body was thirsty and he asked this sinner Samaritan woman to give Him a drink to relieve His thirst. He thought so much of her that when his physical body had a need he asked her to do him a favor. But when Jesus left earth and went back to heaven, He formed his physical body into a spiritual body and His spiritual body is now the Church. And just like his physical body had a need then, His spiritual body has a need now. And just like he wanted her to meet the need of His physical body then, He wants us to meet the need of His spiritual body now.  And so he says to us lend me your hands because the only hands I have are your hands. He says, lend me your feet and go into the highways and byways. Lend me your voice to live for me and to witness for me and to testify by me.  Jesus has a need and he wants you to meet that need.

4. An Engaging Conversation

Jesus has the longest conversation ever recorded in the gospel.  He talks face to face with this woman more than he talks to his   disciples as recorded, more that he talks to his family, more than he talks to his accusers. He is engaging in a conversation with the Samaritan woman. A huge scandal in that day, because no man, no Jewish man, would ever ask to drink from the same cup or bucket as a Samaritan woman.

A. 4:9 Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. This phrase could also be translated, “Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans,” referring to the legislation that forbade a Jew to eat or drink with Samaritans, who were more lax in their understanding of ritual cleanness. The surprise was not so much that Jesus would speak with a Samaritan, but that He would drink from a Samaritan vessel.

B. 4:10  the gift of God. This expression emphasizes that salvation is not earned but given (Eph. 2:8). Jesus Himself is the gift of God ( 3:16;  2:20; Eph. 5:25).  living water. In the Old Testament, living or running water was employed figuratively as a reference to divine activity (Jer. 2:13; Zech. 14:8). See also v. 14 and 7:37–39.

C. 4:11 Like the Jews and Nicodemus before her, the Samaritan woman misunderstands the key terms Jesus uses (v. 15; 2:19–21; 3:3–10).

5. A Tantalizing Invitation. And Gift. A Truly Irresistible Offering.              

4:13-15 will be thirsty again”. Jesus contrasts temporary with eternal satisfaction, teaching that all earthly pleasures, even if legitimate, are fading. 4:14 “I will give” expresses the divine origin of the blessing: “welling up” is its great abundance; “eternal life” is its endless duration.

Jesus offers her living water and she replies that he doesn’t even have a bucket to get well water, let alone living water.  It is two different conversations going on at two different levels. But somehow the spirit moves within this brilliant woman, that she understands enough to say, “Sir, give me this living water.” “Living water” has a double meaning in the Gospel of John. It can mean “flowing,” as opposed to “cistern,” or it can also mean something that gives life.   The Samaritan woman thought Jesus was talking about flowing water (river or stream). But Living water = SALVATION from sin’s bondage and condemnation.

6. Be Careful What You Ask For 4:16-18

“Go, call your husband, and come here.”   Watch this … the woman says “Sir, give me this water.” And when she said so, Jesus does an interesting thing doesn’t he? He is probing. He is pushing. In the middle of offering water that will sustain everlasting life, Jesus tells the woman: Go call your husband and then come back.

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”  When Jesus says, Go call your Husband, the woman tries to play it off … by answering “I have no husband” Jesus says “You’ve got that right”. Five times, Jesus says, and living with a man who is not her husband. Jesus holds up a mirror and allows us to see ourselves for who we are. He allows us to deal with our projections, our failures and our insecure core. And in doing so…He calls us to live out of an authentic core and to worship with authenticity and humility. Now watch this…. Don’t miss this point!   Why would Jesus say to her go call your husband after expressing an interest in her life and expressing a desire that she receive everlasting life?  You see her husband was that area of compromise in her life. That husband represented that sin relationship in which she had become comfortable.  It represented that situation that she was no longer struggling to get out of. It represented that relationship that she had rationalized … the one that she figured one more won’t hurt…. And Jesus says that before you can receive the anointing of this water that I have you must realize the sin in your life. The only way to prepare the soil of the heart for the seed is to plow it up with conviction. That was why Jesus told her to go and get her husband: He forced her to admit her sin. There can be no conversion without conviction.

7. Vs 19–26 – DEFLECTION AND THE WAY TO TRUE WORSHIP

Ouch!  Busted. However, instead of listening to Jesus, the woman tried to get Him on a “detour” by   discussing the differences between the Jewish and the Samaritan religions. It is much more comfortable to discuss religion than to face one’s sins!  (vv. 17-18). Impressed at his prophetic knowledge, she raised the main question that divided Jews and Samaritans, whether Jerusalem or Mount Gerazim was the right place to worship God. The woman compares Samaritan worship with Jewish worship. Jesus reveals that true worshippers worship God, who is Spirit, in spirit and truth through the work of God the Holy Spirit. He also reveals Himself as the Messiah. (vv. 19-20 ). Once again Jesus deepened the discussion (vv. 21-24 ). If it were simply a matter of deciding between Jewish and Samaritan worship, the Jewish way is right. But even that is being superseded by a spiritual manner of worship in which God and humanity find their true union in Jesus, who is the Truth (cf. 14:6). After this, there was only one thing left to say: Jesus is the Christ. The woman guessed it (v. 25), and Jesus acknowledged it (v. 26 ).

8. The Disciples Rejoin Jesus – Everyday Evangelism and The Witnesses God Uses

 4:27 marveled (surprised). The disciples’ attitude reflects both the contempt of the Jews for the Samaritans and the male chauvinism that regarded giving instruction to a woman as a waste of time. 4:30 They went out. The witness of the woman was more effective than the visit of the twelve apostles. 4:37 One sows and another reaps. Jesus makes it clear that His disciples have a responsibility distinct from His own. They will harvest what Jesus sowed. The saying may deliberately anticipate (12:23,24 ). 4:42 the Savior of the world. They recognized that Jesus was more than a prophet ( vv. 19,  29,  39 ); He is the Savior (1 John 4:14).

God uses witnesses who are excited about Jesus, have a harvest perspective, and invite others to come to Him.

 

NOTES & SOURCES:

  1. Women of the Bible; 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups; Jean E. Syswerda

2. The Reformation Study Bible

3. Excerpts from the Sermon “What Happens When You Meet Jesus” – Rev. Alfonso Woods

4. Warren Wiersbe BE Bible Study Series

5. BibleGateway.com