There is no delicate way to talk about this one… There was a lady who had a bleeding problem for twelve years. Twelve Years! Let’s read about her:
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:25-34)
The placement of this account is interesting. If you remember from the last study, it occurs in the middle of another story. A man named Jairus had come to ask Jesus to heal his dying daughter. Jesus was on the way to his house when he notices someone touched his clothing. This is where we pick up our study today. What was so special about this woman that three Gospel writers included her in their accounts? We are reading from Mark this time because he provides the most details.
Let’s take a look at the woman and her condition… She had some kind of continual hemorrhage, although scholars are unsure, it was most likely uterine related. This had some serious implications… 1- The woman would have been very weak and tired most, if not all, of the time. 2- She would have been considered unclean according to Levitical laws for twelve years (Read Leviticus 15:25-33). That’s a long time to be separated from family and loved ones. We learn from the text that she tried to get better by seeking doctors. In fact, she “had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse,” (verse 26). What were some of these treatments she sought? I’m glad you asked… They were far from the scientifically sound treatments of today. One cure said to carry the ashes of an ostrich egg. Another involved carrying barley corn obtained from the dung of a white female donkey around the neck. Yummy. The point is that she was desperate for a cure and nothing she tried helped. Then she heard about Jesus, perhaps she heard about him from other formerly unclean people who had been cured by Jesus. We don’t know but somehow this woman heard about the Healer. She had a problem though… no self respecting rabbi would knowingly touch a woman let alone an unclean woman. So she says to herself, “Self, if I just touch his clothes, I will be healed,” (verse 28). Now, many Bible Scholars say that this showed she thought there was something magical about Jesus; that she was a bit superstitious about Jesus’ power and had a very weak faith. I don’t think this is the case at all. I think she had great faith to think that just touching Jesus’ clothes would provide healing. Again, I think the reason she doesn’t confront Jesus and ask him for help is because a normal rabbi would have turned her away. I think it took great faith to think that Jesus was so powerful that all she had to do was touch him. Also, Jesus himself says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering,” (verse 34). Her faith healed her. Not her lack of faith. All I’m sayin’ is who am I to argue with Jesus. If he says her faith healed her, then it was probably her faith that healed her, lol.
So she touched Jesus’ clothes and immediately her bleeding stopped and her whole body felt healed- in other words, there was no recovery time. She was instantly restored to complete health. Jesus then asks an question, “Who touched my clothes?” There were crowds pressing in on all sides. The disciples thought it was ridiculous of Jesus to ask, “Who touched me?” because everyone was touching him. Jesus knew, however, that one person in particular had received healing by touching him. Now, this brings a couple of questions to mind and I don’t know that I have the answers to them but they are worth asking any way…
- Did the woman really take Jesus’ power without his authority and in a sense steal his power?
- Did he really not know who touched him?
As to the first question, I don’t think that the woman took power from Jesus without his authority. I think he probably knew about what was going on and granted the healing. Which brings me to the second question- He also knew who touched him but was giving the woman the chance to publicly announce her complete restoration. I don’t know why he didn’t just point her out unless he was trying to be gracious in allowing her to ‘fess up. But I don’t think he was ignorant of the facts.
Oh, to have the faith of this woman! How often do we talk about having faith in Jesus but then don’t take our problems, no matter how small or big, to him. We try to fix things on our own, we ask others for help, but we fail to go to the one who can help us. I think this is a problem more with the little things in life. I almost always remember to ask God for help with the big stuff but God is in the details too. I think I mentioned this before, but one way I’ve started stretching my faith is when I lose something. I ask God to help me find whatever I’m looking for and within moments, I have found it. God has yet to leave me floundering for something. In how many more ways could we trust God yet we overlook them? My challenge to you this week is to pick one time to trust God in a way you have never done before. Running late for an appointment? Trust God to make it work out somehow. Lose your keys? Ask God to find them for you. Low on cash? Ask God to give you your daily needs. But here’s the kicker… you have to actually believe that God will come through for you and be ready to pray like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego- Lord, I know you can do this but even if you don’t I will still praise you!