Matthew 9:20 – And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak. (NASB)
Reflecting on my trip to Israel last November, I recall that one of my favourite sites was the ancient village of Magdala in Galilee. A most recent and fascinating archaeological discovery was a first-century synagogue with part of its beautiful fresco wall and mosaic floor still visible today. In the centre of the synagogue is a rare artifact known as the Magdala stone. This square object is beautifully carved with temple images on all sides. Some believe that it was used as a table to hold the Torah scroll where Jesus may have read Scripture and preached the Word of God.
Standing beside these ruins, I was struck by the reality that many people who worshipped there had a personal encounter with the Messiah. Perhaps this was the place, in the hometown of Mary Magdala, where she met her Saviour for the first time. It is also conceivable that the event described in today's Scripture occurred in the same locale.
Afterward, we visited the Duc In Altum worship centre not far from the excavation site. The Latin phrase means "launch into the deep" (Luke 5:4). Inside the atrium are seven pillars honouring women of the Bible as well as an eighth column for all women of faith. In addition, a separate room houses a model boat commemorating Jesus' disciples. But especially meaningful to me was the Encounter Chapel on the lower level of the building. Its floor is part of the original marketplace. Yet the most striking feature was a large mural painted above the altar called Encounter, depicting the woman who touched the Lord's cloak; only her hand is shown, with a small light signifying that a miracle had taken place.
This experience was reminiscent of a devotional that I had written in January 2011 entitled The Hem of His Garment. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my husband would be diagnosed with cancer by the end of the same year. Subsequently, the faith and courage of this anonymous woman have been an inspiration and a great source of hope.
Truly, Magdala is a place of encounter. The town generates a message of faith, hope, and healing. It has been said, "The chapel and the painting are celebrating Jesus' encounter of all of us; how we touch Jesus and how He touches or moves us."
Prayer: Lord, we thank You for Your Word that is living and active in the world today, and for all those who encountered Your life and ministry firsthand. Miraculously, their testimonies live on throughout the ages as they continue to inspire, strengthen, and encourage our faith. May we likewise be witnesses to future generations of Your amazing power and the wonders of Your grace. In Jesus' mighty name, we pray. Amen.
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