Jesus Makes All Things Clean

Have you ever read through the ritual cleansing passages in Leviticus? Often we don’t think of these passages first when we do our quiet times in the morning. We usually gravitate towards something more practical to us, right? But should this be the case? If we believe that God’s Word is true, and we believe He has things in store for us on every page of Scripture, then even the words in Leviticus have tremendous power over our lives.

Under the Old Covenant if a woman had a discharge of blood she was considered impure—even if this was during her monthly cycle. Leviticus 15 gives us the verdict for a woman who experienced prolonged bleeding. We learn here that if anyone touched her, they were unclean as well. At the end of her discharge she was to follow a series of purification rituals that would cleanse her of her impurity and put her in right standing to come into the Temple. If a woman’s bleeding continued for years at a time she was perpetually unclean—a disgrace and an outcast. At first glance this seems horribly unfair and hard to swallow. The very thing that God gave to a woman was now making her unclean and unable to be in his presence.

Fast forward to the New Testament and Luke 8:43-58 (and Matthew 9:20-22) where a woman who had suffered from a discharge for twelve years is healed by simply touching the Savior’s garment. It’s hard to imagine all that she went through in those years, but the Bible gives us some indication. She could not enter the temple. She could not worship. She was cast out of society because she was dirty, unclean, and sick. The very fact that Jesus was touched by her would have made him unclean. But she knew that Jesus had something that all of the ritualistic purity requirements never were able to fulfill. He was purity. He was clean. He was perfect. And he was powerful.

“If I just touch him,” she thought, “maybe I will have hope, maybe I will have relief.”

And she did.

Leviticus 15:25-31 is a staggering reminder of what this woman experienced. Every square inch of anything she came in contact with would be stained with her impurity. She needed to be cleansed and healed. All of the rituals, all of the law, all of the sacrifices and need for atonement met their fulfillment in the Man who said “your faith has made you well.”

This is what we miss when we don’t read the Old Testament. Without Leviticus, we can’t understand the fullness of Luke. They are meant to go together. Understanding the Law should make us weep for this woman who has no hope besides Christ. The people in Jesus’ day knew what her discharge meant, and they would have been horrified that she touched Jesus. We are meant to feel the weight of the Law, but we are also meant to feel the freedom and release that Jesus brings at the inauguration of his Kingdom. This is the hope of the Savior. All of the promises, all of the rituals, all of the sacrifices, find their once and final fulfillment in the work of Jesus Christ.