And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:34
One of the things that set Jesus’s ministry apart was the way He interacted with women. However, each encounter was chosen because it teaches us something about Jesus and our relationship to Him. It is important to notice in each case, Jesus treated these women with dignity and respect that was unheard at that time and in that culture. That in itself is instructive as we interact with people now.
So far we have looked at an exchange between Jesus and His mother at the wedding celebration in Cana of Galilee. Last week, we looked at His conversation with the woman from Sychar who had come to draw water from the well. This week, we’ll break down what happens when a woman reaches out to Him in a crowd.
By this point in Jesus’s ministry, He was pretty famous. His reputation as a healer meant that huge crowds quickly assembled whenever He was in the area. In Mark 5, this is the situation. We don’t know exactly what town He is in, but we know from previous chapters He is in the general area of Capernaum. He has just arrived back in that area after spending a few days in Gentile country casting out demons. Jesus is met by a desperate father, Jairus. He was a synagogue ruler, a local pastor, if you will, whose twelve-year-old daughter was dying. Her condition was beyond medical intervention. Jesus was his only hope.
Of course Jesus consents to go with Jairus, and it is on the walk over that this woman reaches out to touch Jesus.
Now it is important to understand that this woman was not a distraction. She was not a delay. She didn’t mess things up so that Jairus’s daughter died. Her story is an important reminder to us. She had suffered for twelve years, the girl’s entire lifetime. While Jairus and his wife delighted in their daughter, in watching grow, in sharing her life, this woman was drained of her finances and her hope for any kind of cure.
One of the ugliest parts of the curse sin brought on the world is that innocent people suffer. Jesus Christ came to overturn that curse, and every miraculous healing is a testimony to that.
When we reach out to Jesus in our moments of desperate need, we are not distracting Him or delaying Him or preventing Him from attending to something more pressing. We need the power of the Gospel working in our lives, and He is gracious to supply our needs.
Now, let’s think for a moment why this woman wouldn’t want Jesus to know she touched Him. Why didn’t she just ask for healing like Jairus had done for his daughter? The accounts say it was a bleeding thing. The older versions say “an issue”. Newer translations say a discharge, or a hemorrhage or something similar. The point is, the woman almost certainly had a gynecological condition. Apart from the physical pain and suffering that caused, she would have been ceremonially unclean the entire time. She had not been able to attend a worship service in twelve years. Anyone who touched her would have been rendered ceremonially unclean. That isolation, that guilt, that burden would have been so, so heavy.
But I like the old word “issue” because of the more current meaning and the play on words. We all have an issue or two we need to bring to Jesus for healing.
But here she is, in a huge crowd. Everyone is jostling one another. I picture it like a crowd leaving a huge stadium or concert. Everyone who touched her will be considered unclean. She knows this and knows the risk she is taking. But it will be okay because as soon as she touches Jesus, she will be healed, and no one will be unclean. She just has to get close enough. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” Mark 5:28 It won’t slow Him down. He won’t even know.
Except He knew.
When Jesus turns and asks who touched Him, He wasn’t looking for information. He knew. He was offering the woman the opportunity to publicly testify, to declare her faith. Jesus wanted other people to see what kind of faith she had. He was living out what He would soon explain to His disciples. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, Matthew 10:32.
I love the detail Mark includes. She fell down before Jesus “and told Him the whole truth.”
When we have the opportunity, let’s be faithful to tell the truth about what Jesus has done for us.
And then there’s the response. Jesus calls her Daughter. He wouldn’t have had to call her anything. He had her attention. She knew He was talking to her. But He makes a point of calling her daughter. It was a term of endearment, of familiarity, of relationship, and thus, of status. He wanted those around to understand that He had the same concern and compassion for her that Jairus had for his precious daughter. She was not an outcast. She was reconciled to God. And He told her to go in peace.
Jesus has that same gentle compassion for us. He chooses to call us His. Go in peace with that assurance.
(P.S. If you’re not familiar with the what happens next, He raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead. So it was all good.)