The Gift of Attentiveness

“But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour.”

Matthew 9:22

Try to imagine a woman who was dealing with an issue of blood for twelve years. In simple terms this woman was on her mensural cycle for twelve long years without a day or reprieve. Most women I know will say a single day is too long and its beyond comprehension to think of the suffering twelve years of constant blood flow would take upon a woman’s life, emotionally, physically, and yes spiritually as she would under Jewish law be deemed ‘unclean’ and unable to participate in any temple services.

As I have been studying Jesus life in the book of Matthew I am in awe of His awareness, His attentiveness of His surroundings at all times. It’s so encouraging to me of just how aware Jesus is of people who have been marginalized by society for a variety of reasons. And at the same time it is equally convicting of how unaware I am.

In Matthew chapter 9 it’s very easy to gloss over the dialog Jesus had with those who came to Him for healing. First, we had the paralytic in verse 2. Jesus calls him ‘son’. The word holds special significance. Jesus could have referred to this man with a variety of appropriate names to describe him that were much less personal and more generic but Jesus chose to call him ‘son’ which was to infer a special relationship.

Have you ever heard the expression, “God meets us at our greatest point of need?” To understand what was taking place here you need to know some back story from the Old Testament. The Jews believed that a person who was suffering in any way was doing so because of some sin in their life. The Jews believed God blessed the righteous and He cursed the wicked. Generally speaking that is a true statement but it isn’t true in every situation. Take Job for example, he spends an entire book bearing his name defending his innocence against the onslaught of examination by his three friends who accuse him of secret sin as to why Job has suffered the loss of everything in his life.

The paralytic in Matthew 9 lived his entire life as an outcast, most likely to the embarrassment and shame of his family. More than physical healing Jesus gave him his dignity back. Jesus was attentive to this mans deeper needs. The greatest need this paralytic had most was forgiveness and Jesus offered it freely. Jesus always deals with the deepest needs of our lives and works His way out. The Bible makes clear that when sin entered the world death was not far behind. Somewhere in between the two came disease and sickness. By dealing with the sin issue, the root problem, all the other issues were merely symptomatic. When Jesus called him ‘son’ Jesus gave him his true identity back. The labels hanging over this man’s life were now removed. More than being able to walk, to know the joy of reconciliation, being restored to sonship, to being an accepted member of the family once again did more than give the man the ability to walk, he had a reason to dance with joy!

The woman with the issue of blood was forbidden by Jewish law from having contact with another person without the other person becoming unclean themselves and unable to participate in any form of worship. In the truest sense, to touch a person deemed unclean was to become unclean yourself, and most people would not be willing to risk their own health, wellbeing or public stature to do so. Jesus was willing! Jesus had no fear of becoming infected Himself as the Great Physician He could speak the word and the person was healed, made clean, whatever needed to be done. What Jesus did do that others were afraid of was He identified with the people who were suffering and in need. He not only healed them, Jesus accepted them. He chose to identify with them and He was rejected by the social elites for doing so. To call the paralytic ‘son’ or the woman with the flow of blood ‘daughter’, was to be attentive to their deeper need. The need to be accepted. Jesus accepts sinners who come to Him by faith. He never turns us away!

When the woman touched the hem of Jesus garment, as God, Jesus was completely aware of what had happened and who had touched Him but Jesus was attentive to her need and as the Word says, “Jesus turned around and when He saw her.” Jesus blessed her with His attentiveness. He not only healed her issue of the flow of blood that she had suffered for twelve years, Jesus healed her issue of self worth and self esteem by making eye contact with her and referring to her as ‘daughter’. Never underestimate the gift of attentiveness and the role it plays in a persons health and well being. I am positive many of the health issues the world faces today could be cured by someone who was willing to just sit and listen.

Jesus touches our lives at the place of our deepest need. He knows we need, love, acceptance and forgiveness and all these stories we read in the Gospel’s show us that Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). Let God use your life today, give your undivided attention to someone today. Put your phone down, turn your chair around. Stop what you are doing and turn and look people in the eye and astonish them in the same way Jesus did. Attentiveness is a gift we can offer others. Presence is a gift we can give to others simply by being there, all there. Jesus models this all through the Gospels and then He commissions His disciples to go out into the world and do likewise.

“These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
Matthew 10:5-8


Michael Osthimer





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