Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians,no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Petersaid, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.” When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
This is a commissioned painting of one of my favorite stories. Thought the gospels, Jesus heals in many different ways. Sometimes with just a command, sometimes long distance, sometimes tactually and deliberately. But this time, the miracle was performed unconsciously. The woman touched Jesus, from behind, among a crowd of people. She was healed instantly. Then, Jesus does something remarkable. He sensed power leaving from him. He turned around to inquire about it. The power of God in Jesus was something real and physical enough for Jesus to sense it at work—and it was beyond his own control.
God was at work in Jesus without Jesus even knowing it until after the fact. This is a fascinating twist in the story for me. To me, it means that Jesus was so much an instrument of God's grace ("Touched by God" if you will), that God was able to work miracles through him beyond his own actions. Have you ever tried so hard to make something go right for God? A ministry, goal or charitable effort? Sometimes they work great. Sometimes they fail. But then there are those times when something seems to go wonderfully right for God and we had nothing to do with it—perhaps even in spite of anything we did. That is an amazing interaction.
In the painting, The woman touches Jesus among the crowd of people. Both Jesus and the woman are highlighted so subtly that it is easy for the crowd (and the viewer) to miss. The power is real, as illustrated in the painting. But it may be only noticeable to those who have the faith to realize it.
Miracles can happen, unexpectedly, in the most unlikely of circumstances. You are an instrument of God for the world. We are all called to serve in ways both great and small. But always remember that we belong to God. God can use us for the kingdom when we don't even know it.