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Week One | Middle Eastern Jesus

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Welcome + Week One | Jesus & Women Online Book Study
Reading Assignment – Session One
Scripture Passage: Matthew 9:20-22
Listen to the Audio version | Read time 5.5-minutes

We have all heard the phrase, “hanging on by a thread”.
Have you ever wondered what thread we should be hanging onto?

We’ve just spent a year of white-knuckle gripping the threads of the lives we once knew. Our plans, our relationships, our finances, and our mental health have all taken a hit.

However, I have come to see this time as a gift—yes, that’s right, a gift, because we are now able to extend a deeper sense of empathy and compassion for a woman from Jesus’ first-century world, who was also forced to practice social distancing.

But unlike our months of keeping our distance from others, she was forced to distance herself from her community and her loved ones for twelve long years.

“a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.'”
Matthew 9:20-21, ESV

We learn in session one that this New Testament encounter may very well be the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy, from Malachi 4:2.

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.”
Malachi 4:2, NLT

So back to my question — Have you ever wondered what thread should we be hanging onto?

Meeting Middle Eastern Jesus

The woman told herself that if she could just touch the garment of Jesus, she would be healed. That garment is called a tallit (a prayer shawl).

(Included in the blog post is an image of a Tallit, with the various parts labeled.)

The four corners of the tallit are called the kanafayim in Hebrew (or kraspedon in Greek), which means corner or wing. Attached to the kanafayim are the tzitzit (tassels) that hold 613 knots that represent the commandments of God found in the Torah.

If we look at Malachi 4:2 again, we’ll see mentioned:

  • The Sun of Righteousness ( a Messianic title) = Jesus
  • Healing in his wings = the kanafayim of His tallit

Go ahead, I’ll wait for you to lift your jaw off of the floor. P.S. It gets better…

Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, ‘Take heart, daughter, your faith has made you well.’ And instantly the woman was made well.”
Matthew 9:22, ESV

The verses just before this divine encounter, tell us that Jesus was on His way to the house of a man whose daughter had just died. He had a miracle to perform.

He could have just kept walking. Instead, He took the time to acknowledge her, and to speak with and reassure her that her faith had allowed the prophecy of Malachi to come to pass.

Let me remind you, friend, that if He’s willing to do this for her, He’s willing to do it for you too.

As we embark on this 7-week journey of getting to know Jesus as you’ve never known (or loved) Him before, I want these words from Kristi to wash over you, to help you loosen that white-knuckle grip of the thread you’re hanging onto, so your hands are free to reach out to Him.

“You need to know that Jesus can handle you. You need to know that you can in every possible way to reach out and lay hold of Him. And I believe that there’s still healing found in His wings.”

Kristi McLelland, Jesus and Women study
Let’s recap…

Today we learned:
– Malachi 4:2 references the coming Messiah
– The name of the garment referenced in Matthew 9:20-22 is a tallit
– The corners of a tallit are called the kanafayim in Hebrew, which means “corner or wing”
– Matthew 9:20-22 may be a fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi 4:2
– Jesus will make time for you, to see you, and reassure you that you can reach out to Him.

What are you white-knuckle gripping, my friend?
How have the words of today’s lesson touched those circumstances? Do you feel Jesus loosening your grip, so your hands are free to reach for Him?

Shop this study

Jesus and Women | Kristi McLelland

A 7-week study to examine the historical and cultural climate of first-century Middle Eastern society to not only understand Jesus more deeply but to fuel your worship of Him today.

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  1. I’m totally white-knuckle gripping my past, pre-COVID life. In a way, I want to go back to how things were. But, Jesus has shown me over the past 9 months that there are many things – like busy-ness – to let go of. As a new year begins with a somewhat bleak outlook – as far as the world is concerned, I need to plunge into the new year ready to hold onto something new… a greater hope. ❤️

    1. Jenni,
      It’s really hard to let go of all that we lost in the last year, absolutely! So I can without a doubt relate to that white-knuckled grip of the way things used to be. I’m grateful that you’re not being shy about your hesitancies for this year as well. Praying for you (and this whole wide world) as you continue to seek hope and renewal. Virtual hugs!

    2. Jenni, I’m right there with you holding on tight to how things used to be. But yet I’m seeing no matter how hard I try and hold on things they’re still slipping through my fingers. I’m so thankful that when we reach for Jesus He reaches back and won’t let us slip through His fingers.

    3. Jenni, I really struggled in the beginning of the pandemic because I was so used to being on the go, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’m on the fence of whether or not I want to go back to that life. I have found that I’m surprisingly content to just live life with my little family. I know that as school resumes, things will steadily pick up, but I hope that I can remember the lessons I’ve learned about the peace that is in my home when I place my husband, kids, and our home as the top ministry in my life as a wife and mother.

      I hope you find a greater hope than you can even begin to imagine in this new year! Sending virtual hugs and prayers!

  2. I think the thing that I’ve been white knuckle gripping is a longing for old friendships. As someone who has moved a lot in my life, the core group of friends I formed at the casino I worked at became a foundation for me. I love these women and their families. My son Marcus is almost 6, so that means it’s been about 5 years since I finally stopped fighting the Holy Spirit’s constant tug that I had to acknowledge my faith and live for Christ, which meant letting go of some things in life to allow him to step in. I found that over the past 5 years, the more I allowed God into my life the more these friends stepped to the wayside. They would come around if I invited them, but I was usually the one initiating. My heart hurt, but God has been slowly been filling those voids with new friends who are also my sisters in Christ. And yet, I still longed for these other women. They had become my family, in a place where I have no family besides my husband and kids. Over the past year, only one of those women has consistently reached out to me and been a friend to me. My new friends have found ways to check in, they let me know they are praying for me, they encourage me, they have been a joy to be around. And yet, I still find myself white knuckle gripping onto the threads of friendships that no longer have a shared road with me because they haven’t accepted the love of Christ into their lives. I have realized that in the past year God has shown me who really cares for me. I will continue to be there for these other women and to pray for them to have a relationship Jesus Christ, but I know the time is coming when I am going to have to let go.

    1. Oh Kara, what a same walk we are on! My best friend had a very very hard time accepting that my daughter getting married in covid season did not invite her to the wedding. She was blessed to even get to have the wedding since it was July 10 and we were back and forth with the head count of how many could be in a public place at once. Now she barely speaks to me and sometimes when she does its cold and painful. She knows the Lord, isn’t visibly practicing her belief. Then I meet girls like you and im shown appreciation just for showing up for the day and keeping in God’s word. Wow our Lord is AMAZING when he gives us who and what we need right at his perfect timing. He walks passed us and let’s us touch his prayer shawl exactly when we needed it, amen?!! ❤✌🏼😘 glad to have you as my new prayer friend and looking forward to meeting the rest of you this coming Thursday!!

  3. I keep feeling like a failure in my walk, that I’m not(!) intentional enough in sharing with Him what my struggles are.

    1. Elizabeth,
      You’re not alone in that struggle. It is easy to feel like we have to clean ourselves up and get our lives right before we can approach Jesus with our thoughts and our struggles. But the beautiful thing about Jesus is that He is willing to meet you in the middle of those struggles to lift you out of your shame and restore your place of honor. I recommend you check out our week 3 post from this series – https://intentionalfilling.com/woman-at-the-well/

      We’re here for you too! If you have any prayer requests that we could lift for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out via our contact page. Virtual hugs!

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