Support the Café

Search our Site

A Lukan sandwich

A Lukan sandwich

Luke 8:40-56

There are lots of stories in the Bible, all kinds of them. Love stories, stories of war, murder, rape, healing, miraculous happenings, callings, how things and places got their names — all of them bound up in one volume. This one is at the top of my list of favorites, perhaps because it is very much a story about women, perhaps because it has a happy ending, perhaps just because it’s a really good story, told in an unusual way. It’s a story within a story, or, as one teacher of New Testament said once, “It’s a sandwich.” Scholars call it an intercalation or interpolation, an insertion of one story into another, but I remember it better as a sandwich.

The story is one of contrasts as well as similarities. Both are stories about females, one probably who would have been post-menopausal except for the hemorrhaging she’d suffered for the past twelve years, the other a young girl of approximately twelve years of age who probably had yet to experience her first menarche. One was alone, so alone that she had to journey out in public unaccompanied, the other remained at home but whose father went out to seek help for her. Both represented people at the very bottom of the social scale despite their current or former financial status; women and children were without voice or merit except for the work they could perform or the status they could bring to the family by a very advantageous marriage. Both represented people who carried a ritual impurity that could be passed to any unsuspecting person who bumped into them on the street or touched them in some way. And then there is the fact that Jesus walked into both lives, once deliberately, once by chance, and did for each of them what no one else could do.

I can see the story through both sets of eyes: the old and perhaps disillusioned vision of the older woman who had been let down so many times by so many expensive quacks and treatments, and the feverish, fearful young eyes who only wanted her daddy to come and help her, take away her pain and make things all better the way fathers are supposed to do for their children. For each it was their last chance, their last hope. For both Jesus did more than heal their bodies, he restored them to community with their families and neighbors, removing the stigmas that illness and death placed upon the victims. He accepted ritual impurity for himself as a cost of curing others of theirs. One he did without thinking when the woman touched the tassels on his cloak, the other quite deliberately by touching the young girl’s dead body. That’s the kind of Jesus I want to believe in, one that takes big risks and does what is necessary to help others.

Come to think of it, that’s what the cross was about, wasn’t it?

Linda Ryan co-mentors 2 EfM Online groups and keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café