When Jesus allows an impure woman to touch him and touches the hand of a corpse, he contracts ritual impurity under the law (Lev 15:19-33; Num 19:11-12). Of course we might argue that Jesus contracted no uncleanness in actuality; as in the case of his contact with sinners, the influence went from him to them rather than the reverse (Mt 9:11-13). Yet in the eyes of those present, he has assumed the status of uncleanness (see the fuller account in Mk 5:33, where Jesus even invites public attestation of the touch). He is willing to touch us in our brokenness that we might be made whole.
In a world where women were nearly always second-class citizens and where male authors who cited women as examples of heroism treated them as exceptions (as in Plut. Bravery of Women), the Gospels' greater balance is intriguing. Yet this balance fits the rest of Jesus' ministry and teaching: it was the socially powerless who most readily embraced him. Socially accepted Christians who are disturbed by something missing in their zeal should take note; we should humble ourselves and listen to Christians from socially marginalized groups. The point is not to insult those who are not marginalized, but that the broken and marginalized have much to teach us about humble and often desperate dependence on the grace of God.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Try Bible Gateway Plus, a brand-new service that lets you experience Bible Gateway free of banner ads! It also gives you instant access to over 40 Bible study and inspirational devotional books, including the NIV Study Bible. With Bible Gateway Plus, you can experience and understand God's Word in life-changing new ways, without the distraction of ads. Try it free for 30 days—you can cancel at any time. Following your 30-day free trial, Bible Gateway Plus is only $3.99/month.