This blog was adapted from a recent sermon I taught from Haggai. You can access the original sermon audio here.
Can you imagine being a total outcast? If so you can relate to the woman in Luke 8. The Gospel tells us that Jesus gets the call to go heal Jarius’ daughter who was dying. Jesus goes on his way and the crowd pressed in all around him.
An Unclean Woman Made Clean
We are told that in that crowd is a woman who has had chronic menstraul bleeding for twelve years. She has spent the past 12 years and every penny trying to figure out what was wrong with her. However no one could heal her. No doctor could help her.
According to the Law she was ceremonially unclean. She was an outcast, she was alienated. No one could be around this woman lest they became unclean by touching her. This woman was completely and totally alone. No one would touch her. No one would shake her hand. No one would give her a hug. She was unclean. As Jesus is making his way through the crowd she has a crazy thought. She had heard about Jesus. She heard that he was a healer. Then she had this crazy thought – “If I could just touch his garment, I could be healed.” So she goes and she fights her way through the crowd and she is able to just barely touch the fringe of Jesus’ garment and at that moment she is instantly healed. The unclean woman is made instantly clean. Jesus realizing what just happened stops the crowd and asks who touched him. The woman falls on her face in the presence of everyone and confesses what she did. Jesus tells her “daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace”.
Holiness is Not Contagious
This story is amazing. In Haggai 2:10-14, the prophet uses an priestly illustration of the nature of holiness. Here is the words Haggai penned:
“On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Ask the priests about the law: ‘If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?’ ” The priests answered and said, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.” Then Haggai answered and said, “So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the LORD, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean.” (Haggai 2:10–14, ESV)
Haggai says imagine someone is carrying around holy meat (meat sacrificed on the alter to the Lord) in a special garment. Haggai then said what if you take that garment, that was wrapped in the Holy meat and what if I touched this piece of bread with it? Haggai asks them, “Would this make the bread holy?” The priest answer, “No”. Holiness is not contagious. It doesn’t pass from one thing to the next.
Then Haggai said, well what if someone who is unclean by touching a corpse then goes to touch the bread what would happen to it? Well that food item would become unclean. Well what is Haggai’s point? Defilment is contagious, uncleanness passes to other objects but holiness does not.
But Jesus’ Holiness is Contagious
Now knowing this, think back to the bleeding woman. You see when this unclean woman went to touch Jesus. When she made contact with Jesus, Jesus should have then been unclean. Remember defilement is contagious, if you touched a woman like this you were to be ceremoniously unclean. Yet the opposite happens! The cleanliness of Jesus is imputed to this woman. Jesus’ holiness is contagious and it is passed to this woman through her faith. In Haggai, that garment containing the holy meat would not transmit holiness to another object, yet here the garment containing the holy meat, the lamb of God, passes cleanliness to this woman! Why? Because Jesus is the holy one of God. He is undefiled and completely pure!
This is the beauty of the Gospel, that Jesus takes our uncleanliness and our sin and washes us with his blood. We are unable to make ourselves clean, but Jesus cleanses us and purifies us. In all our guilt and filth, Jesus cleans us and makes us his own!