Day 10

Rituals for Purification

from the Leviticus reading plan


Leviticus 14:19-57, Leviticus 15:1-33, Matthew 9:20-22

BY Jen Yokel

Well, we’ve reached that part of Leviticus. We’re deep in the rules of worship, ancient rituals that can feel weird and distant from our own practice of faith. I know when I’ve tried to read the Bible straight through, this is the part where I usually get bogged down and look for something more relatable. It’s tempting to skim through all these regulations, but if we stick with it, we learn to see one of Jesus’s miracles in a whole new light.

So, what’s the deal with all this bodily-fluid talk? We know the ancient Israelite culture was focused on family legacies, going all the way back to Abraham’s first promise. Stories of children born in extraordinary circumstances are all over Scripture. So perhaps these rules reflect how seriously this culture took the foundations of life. It’s important to notice that these rituals treat sex with respect, not shame, and that unclean is a temporary state, not an entire identity.

Unfortunately, it was entirely possible for this law to bar someone from worship indefinitely. This must have been the case for the woman who sought Jesus after twelve years with a bleeding disorder. According to the law, she was unclean for all of those twelve years (Matthew 9:20–22). Anything and anyone who touched her would become unclean. Her only hope was for her bleeding to heal, and even then, the law required a waiting period and a sacrifice to fully restore her to community worship (Leviticus 15:25–30). For twelve years, through no fault of her own, she was isolated from her community and perhaps, in her eyes, God.

So imagine this woman hearing stories of a traveling healer. Imagine the longing as she spots him and melts into the crowd, too ashamed to ask for help, careful not to let anyone touch her and become defiled. Imagine her quietly slipping up behind Jesus and brushing her fingers on the edge of his robe, hoping that maybe, just maybe, this could make her well.

When we know the gravity of the law and her culture, we can see just how bold she is and the radical kindness in Jesus’s response. He doesn’t rebuke her for contaminating him. He does not treat her like something ugly and unclean. He calls her “daughter” and offers her the words she longed to hear: “Your faith has saved you” (Matthew 9:22).

How often have we seen stories like hers play out, where a good law meant to bind a community together becomes used to divide and dehumanize? It’s a story we’ve seen replay over and over in history, but once again, Jesus offers us a better way. Where human efforts can make us clean, Jesus can make us whole.

Post Comments (40)

40 thoughts on "Rituals for Purification"

  1. Mercy says:

    Praying for you dear Ash H. And Mae.

  2. Marcey Thomas says:

    This I understand, thank you!

  3. Aleiya Wright says:

    Great job on the summary/ take away for this page. I love that last sentence too, where human efforts can make you clean, Christ can make you whole.

  4. Kimberly Z says:

    Mae so sorry about your wallet. I had my car broken into once and wallet stolen. I know it’s such a violating and frustrating experience.

  5. Kimberly Z says:

    Amen I completely agree. I am not always great about reaching out to God even though he is always there. ❤️

  6. Ash H. says:

    Hi everyone! Little update on my nephew Milo: he is doing great. Most of the intense chemo is finished and he’s moving into a more manageable maintenance phase. He’s even back in school!
    If I could ask for prayer over my little family of 5: my youngest son had a minor surgery on Monday but he has Down syndrome, which puts him at higher risk for complications. While getting him situated, my daughter broke her elbow yesterday at gymnastics. We’re working on pain management for both kids, while all 3 kids are on Fall Break.
    I’m running a bit on empty but grateful to have them home together.
    Prayers for endurance and healing are appreciated.

  7. Victoria E says:

    Susan Lincks I am praying for you. I have been meaning to post this for a few days now but haven’t. GramsieSue I pray that your husbands appointment went well and for traveling mercies. I pray for many of the other requests here and humbly add my own – I am totally overwhelmed (in a good way if that is possible but overwhelmed nonetheless ) trying to balance work, family, personal/ health issues. Some of it is my perfectionism at work but some of it is real (1.5 hour commute each way and a 6 month sleep regression). Please pray for me sisters I don’t even know what I need exactly bur God does. Thank you

  8. Mae says:

    [Sorry if I already posted this, but looks like I didn’t finish :( ] This book of the Bible is way hard to grasp at times, but thank you all for your insights, and to SRT for tackling it.

    I would like to ask for prayer, as my wallet was stolen last week, practically right under my nose! There is so much stress and time involved in the aftermath, and my self-doubt, feeling dumb..ugh. I believe ‘no weapon formed against me will prosper’, but I still wake up in a panic “did I change ‘this’, or ‘that’?” I pray my family and I are covered by His supernatural care and power and can put this behind us.

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