Shame is a powerful emotion. We have all felt the painful feeling of shame arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable or impure. Shame causes us to pull away from others. It is impossible to estimate how much time and energy people invest in trying to hide or deny the things they are ashamed of.
This is why the woman who rudely breaks into the account of Matthew 9 is so intriguing. According to medical and social norms of the time, she was beyond unclean. She was the carrier of an unspeakable bloody discharge. And yet she pushes through the crowd. Does she have no shame?
In the ancient Near East, most people would have gone to great lengths to avoid unnecessarily exposing themselves to her. Yet here she is, moving through a large crowd in pursuit of Jesus. Doesn’t she know that, according to Old Testament law, she could infect other people with her impurity?
So what is more powerful than her shame? What causes her to go public and push through the crowd in order to grasp the edge of Jesus’ robe?
Desperation may be the only thing more powerful than shame. It is the woman’s desperation that causes her to expose her dishonor and impurity with the hope that she will be made clean.
And Jesus responds unexpectedly. He doesn’t pull away from her in disgust; He accepts her in love. When this woman touches the hem of His garment, Jesus turns to her and refers to her as His “daughter.” With great affection, He welcomes her as a dependent.
Isn’t this amazing? Jesus was unashamed to be identified with her uncleanliness. “‘Have courage, daughter,’ He said. ‘Your faith has saved you’” (Matthew 9:22).
This should not surprise us. After all, this is the same Jesus who came to embrace all of humanity’s uncleanliness and shame on the cross. This is the same Jesus who would pour out His own blood to make us clean. This friends, is the good news of the gospel. Christ tells us not to cover our shame, but bring it to Him. When we confess our shame, Jesus covers it for us, making us clean before the only audience that matters: our Holy God. Therefore, don’t pull away from Christ—run to Him in desperation. He is the only one who can rid you of your shame.
Written by Matt Capps