Have you ever had a moment of clarity? When something you have either read before or heard before finally connects with you in a way that may not make sense to anyone else?
My first “moment” happened on day two of our trip to Israel.
After a delay or two in Toronto and a long flight we arrived in the Holy Land. No sooner had we settled in our bus when our adventure had begun.
On our way to our hotel from the airport in Tel Aviv we stopped to take in Mount Carmel, which we read about in 1 Kings. Honestly, I was probably too tired and too overwhelmed to fully appreciate what I was seeing. But it was still awesome.
After dinner and a good night sleep we began our first full day at the Sea of Galilee - yes THE Sea of Galilee, the one in the Bible. The same Sea of Galilee where Jesus calmed the waters, walked on water, and taught a friend to fish! While in the area we visited a place called Magdala the place where Mary Magdelene came from. Mary was a Jewish woman who, according to the four gospels traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Interestingly, Mary is mentioned by name twelve times in the gospels, more than most of apostles! So this gal was important.
In the town on Magdala is an archeological site where researchers have uncovered ancient houses but more impressive was the discovery of an ancient synagogue.
Luke 4:14 says, Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
WE were at the site of one of those synagogues! Our group gathered around the site listening to our insightful guide and taking in the possibilities. What it might have looked like in Jesus time. Where would he have sat?
After the others moved on to the next site I lingered back and placed my hand on a stone bench just over the barrier. Could Jesus have sat on that very stone? The thought was enough to give me goosebumps.
As powerful as that was that was not my moment of clarity. That moment came when we gathered in a basement room - with a 2000 year old stone floor. In that room hung a mural that literally took my breath away. It was a large mural of feet walking on a stones similar to the one I myself was standing on. In the picture is a hand reaching out to touch the fringes, or tassels of the tallit (prayer shawl) worn by Jewish men.
Check out Mark 5:22-43
I have always loved this story. I love the power of it and the power of this woman’s faith. But in that moment there was a new clarity to this old story. This woman was ill. We are told that she had been bleeding for years and nothing had healed her and she knew if she could just get close enough to Jesus, he would have the power to heal her. The problem was, she was a woman and if that wasn’t bad enough because of her illness she would have been considered unclean and anyone who touched her would become ceremonially unclean. No one would allow her to get close to Jesus much less allow her to touch him. But that didn’t stop her. So she determinedly and discretely comes up from behind, crouches low down, making herself small and invisible to the others — not unlike the way she had been made to feel — and she touches the garment of Jesus. Imagine the courage. Imagine her faith. Faith enough to heal her sick body. Faith to free her from her insignificance. Faith to save her from her suffering.
My moment of clarity: we are all in some ways like this women. May we all have the courage and faith to reach out to the One that heals, saves and redeems.