THIS ENTRY WILL BE THE EPILOGUE IN MY SOON-TO-BE-RELEASED BOOK PURPLE POWER: STORIES OF PURPOSE WOMEN IN THE BIBLE.
As you may know, I just returned from leading a pilgrimage tour of Israel and then Rome. I have been to Israel many times and Rome once before, so this was not new territory for me. In Israel, however, there is always something new to see because there are ongoing and new archaeological digs that bear fruit.
On this trip, we made an afternoon visit to a new site located at the biblical fishing village of Magdala, which was home to Mary Magdalene. This site was discovered a few years ago when someone started construction on a new hotel in Galilee. Before long, they realized they were on to something special. Led by teams from Mexico, the site has uncovered a first-century synagogue that Jesus almost certainly would have visited, since we are told He traveled and taught in synagogues throughout the Galilee region. We also saw the remains of the fish market where fish from men like Peter and John was brought to treat and sell.
The Encounter Chapel
We were led by a delightful 18-year-old woman from Mexico who spoke very good English with an endearing accent. After we looked through the ruins, our guide took us to a brand new spiritual center on fringe of the grounds called Duc in Altum. The name is Latin for “launch into the deep,” which is what Jesus told Peter to do in Luke 5:4. The Duc in Altum center houses the Women’s Atrium, the Boat Chapel, Mosaic Chapels, and the Encounter Chapel.
The Encounter Chapel is in the lower level of the center and is a large room with an altar for Mass celebrations. The floor is the original stone floor on Magdala itself, but it was there that I had an encounter with the Lord that I was not expecting. I urge you to go to the Magdala website, click on Visit and select Encounter Chapel in the drop-down menu (I did not include it here for copyright purposes, but I promise the trouble of finding this picture will be worth your while). There you will see a painting of a women’s arm reaching through a mass of men’s legs to touch the hem of a man’s garment. Of course, this painting commemorates the story found in all three Synoptic gospels of the woman who had an incurable flow of blood:
Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace” (Luke 8:40-48).
Our guide explained that the Duc in Altum center is dedicated to the women in Scripture who found healing and identity in Christ. Who better to represent those women that this woman from Luke 8. But there’s more.
The picture you will see on the site shows her hand coming through the legs of those around Jesus just a few inches off the ground. I had never considered that for this woman to touch Jesus’ hem, she had to humble herself and kneel down, perhaps even prostrate herself, risking being stepped on by those who were not paying attention to her but were crowding around Jesus, the celebrity rabbi.
The painting shows her finger touching the garment, and her finger is a shiny, vibrant yellow from the encounter. This is in stark contrast to the rest of her arm, which is pale and ashen from years of suffering with her condition. When we went to Rome and witnessed Michelangelo’s famous painting in the Sistine Chapter of God touching Adam’s finger, it made me think of that woman depicted in the Magdala chapel, who also became alive and fully human when she touched not God’s finger but His garment. But there’s more.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE FROM AN 18-YEAR-OLD
As our young guide unfolded the story in Luke 8 for us, she translated what Jesus said after the woman touched Him in a way that I had never heard before. Jesus asked who touched Him and the disciples dismissed His query because of the crowd surrounding Him, some who were undoubtedly touching Him. In the NIV translation above, Jesus responded, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” The guide translated that to be Jesus saying, “I know that someone liberated power from me.”
“Liberated power from me.” The power was in Jesus and all those surrounding Him were not liberating or releasing that power. They did not have any needs or they did not believe their needs could be met simply by touching Jesus. The women in the story and painting did, however, and Jesus informed her that her faith had liberated the power in Him so she could be healed.
What’s more, a woman with a flow of blood would “contaminate” the man who touched her, rendering him unclean for worship or sacrifice. Not so with Jesus. He could touch women in their frail and feminine state and be none the worse for the encounter. Instead, the woman was made clean and whole.
As you seek your purpose, whether male or female, you must humble yourself, as this woman did, and seek to touch Jesus in a way that will empower you to have what you need to fulfill your purpose. If one of the stories in this book has moved you, go back and read it again. Study that person or principle for yourself in the Bible and liberate the power that is waiting for you as you touch the Lord. When you do, you will come alive like never before, and Jesus will always notice when you touch Him in faith, just like He did in the case of the woman. Have a blessed week!