Searching for a Cure
Nobody has to tell you that need help. There’s just little problem. You don’t want to bother anybody. You’ve resigned yourself that your life is simply going to be miserable. Awful as it is, this is just how it’s going to be. You hate to even entertain the idea but this is probably how you’re going to die.
I mean, it’s not like you haven’t reached out for help since getting sick. You’ve searched the web for a cure, for a doctor, for a miracle. You’ve seen primary care physicians, specialists, homeopaths, and plenty of a few quacks along the way.
Out of Options
You’ve exhausted all of your options. You’ve drained your bank account and maxed out your credit card. And you’re still miserable. What’s even worse, you’ve gotten worse!
You’re not just suffering physical pain, but also the pain of loneliness. You’re an outcast in the community. You can’t even go to church. You haven’t been there in over a decade.
Maybe, Just Maybe
That’s basically sums up the situation one woman is facing in Mark’s bio of Jesus (Mk 5:25-34). But things are about to change. I mean REALLY change! She gets wind that the Miracle Worker from Nazareth is back in town. Maybe, just maybe, He’s her ticket to health.
Previously on the Gospel of Mark…
If you were binge-watching this on Netflix (and if there’s ANY story worth binging, it would be the story of Jesus…am I right?!?), this is where some golden throated big voice would say, “Previously on the Gospel of Mark…”
It all begins with Jesus’ crazy, bug eating cousin baptizing Him in the Jordan River. Suddenly the other two Members of the Trinity show up to celebrate the coming out party of the Son of God (Mk 1:1-9).
The Hot New Thing
Christ immediately beats feet into the desert where He stares down the devil for forty days (Mk 1:12-13). As He begins spreading His message about the arriving of God’s Kingdom (Mk 1:14-15; 4:1-33), our Savior assembles His ragtag team of misfits and knuckleheads (Mk 1:16-20; 2:13-14; 3:13-20).
Jesus suddenly becomes the hot new thing in Galilee (Mk 1:29, 37, 45; 2:1-2, 13; 3:7-9, 32; 4:1; 5:21, 24). He’s the teacher everybody wants to hear (Mk 1:21; 2:2). Christ heals the sick, diseased, and disabled (Mk 1:30-31, 34, 40-42; 2:3-12; 3:1-5, 10).
Upsetting the Status Quo
The Lord upsets the status quo wherever He goes. He sends demonic spirits packing every time you turn around (Mk 1:23-27, 34; 3:11; 5:1-16). He even freaks out His closest followers by shutting down a nasty, late night storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mk 5:35-40).
Because He didn’t check in with the home office in Jerusalem, all the religious muckety-mucks get their undies in a bundle. He breaks their rules by working on the Sabbath (Mk 2:23-24; 3:1-2), forgiving sin (Mk 2:5-8), feasting instead of fasting (Mk 2:18) and basically just hanging out with all the wrong crowd (Mk 2:16-17).
What’s worse, His own family thinks Jesus has lost His ever lovin’ mind (Mk 2:21; 3:31-32). Mary and the rest of the fam go so far as attempting an intervention.
A Big Crowd on the Beach
We pick things up with Jesus and His crew returning from their trip to the far side of Lake Galilee (Mk 5:21). A big crowd greets them as they arrive on the shore just outside Capernaum.
A Desperate Dad
The cheers are interrupted by a desperate dad. One of the leaders of the local synagogue, a guy named Jairus, pleads with Jesus to make a house call (Mk 5:22-24). His baby girl is at death’s door.
As Jesus, Jairus, and the rest of the mob head over to help the young lady, Mark wants us to notice someone weaseling her way to get close to Christ. The author also tells us why. “A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding” (v25).
It’s Gonna Get Messy
This part of our discussion comes with a warning label. What we’re about to talk about is very personal and extremely gross. Her bleeding is way more than just her regular menstrual cycle. She’s suffered with the so-called “time of the month” for twelve long and miserable years. Yeah, this is gonna get messy.
She’s not simply spotting. She’s bleeding BADLY. The NLT calls it “constant bleeding” (v25). You can literally translate that as “river of blood.” “Constant” is the Greek noun ρυσις/rusis. It means a steady flow of liquid in a certain direction, like the course of a river or strong current.
That’s the reason other translations refer to her problem as a severe “hemorrhage” (NASB, NRS, NET). For the past dozen years, she’s suffered from horrible menstrual bleeding. While we don’t know her exact condition, it could be anything from a chronic infection to cancer.
If her health problems aren’t enough, there’s also the religious implications. According to the Jewish scriptures (Lev 15:19-27), not only is a woman impure during her period, she remains unclean as long as she continues bleeding.
And that’s not all. She contaminates anything and anyone she touches. Her clothes. A mattress. A chair. Her husband. And she can’t go to the priest and have him ceremonially purify her until she’s stopped bleeding for seven days.
A Twelve Year Hemorrhage
This lady has lived as an outcast for twelve years. No friends. No family. No church. No physical touch. Just blood. Lots and lots of blood. Interestingly, we’ll see that she’s been hemorrhaging the same number of years that Jairus’ dying daughter has been alive (Mk 5:42).
From Bad to Worse
It’s not like this woman hasn’t tried to get help. “She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse” (v26).
And you think the American healthcare system is jacked up! She’s tried everything! Not only could doctors not heal her but they actually made her worse!! Dr. Luke diagnoses her condition as incurable and she was out of hope (Lk 8:43).
One Last Shot
As a result, she’s broken physically, financially, relationally, emotionally, and psychologically. But maybe just maybe, this radical new Rabbi/Carpenter can do something. Sure, it’s a long shot…but at least it’s a shot. One last shot.
“She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind Him through the crowd and touched His robe. For she thought to herself, ‘If I can just touch His robe, I will be healed’” (v27-28).
What If He Says “No”
All she’s really hoping for is a drive-by healing. She’s so broken and humiliated that she doesn’t need Jesus’ full attention. Maybe she doesn’t even want His attention. I mean, what if He says “no”?!? Most likely, she wants to keep it on the down low because she believes her touch will make Him unclean too.
Time and time again, we see people in the NT who hope for healing if they can only get their hands on the Lord (Mk 3:10; Lk 6:19). And they don’t even need to touch Him, only His clothes (Mk 6:56). That’s exactly this lady’s desperate plan. “If I can just touch His robe…” (v28).
A Supernatural Vending Machine
When we’re desperate, we can resort to the same sort of thing. Okay, maybe we’re not trying to grab Christ’s clothes. But I need to remember that the Lord isn’t some lucky rabbit’s foot. His blessing isn’t tied to whether I touch His robe, wear a cross around my neck, or light a candle at the cathedral.
We don’t rub Him like some sort of Jesus genie in a bottle who will give us three wishes. When that happens, we reduce the sovereign God of the universe into supernatural vending machine who gives us what we want, when we want, and where we want. Yeah, He doesn’t work that way.
In the Blink of an Eye
In the middle of the mob, the woman stretches her fingers out and snags the hem of Jesus’ robe. And something miraculous happens. “Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition” (v29).
In the blink of an eye and the touch of a robe, everything changes! No prescription. No “take two and call me in the morning.” IMMEDIATELY the flow of blood stopped!!
An End to the Gushing Gore
Once again, Mark describes just how gory her blood loss really was. This time he uses a word (Gr. πηγη/pege) translated “bleeding” which is normally used when talking about a spring, a fountain, or gushing liquid (Jn 4:6, 14; James 3:11-12; 2Pet 2:17; Rev 7:17; 8:10; 14:7; 16:4; 21:6).
Somehow, someway, her wound clots in a heartbeat. She could literally feel the difference. Could it be true? REALLY true?!?
Running Low on Healing Power?
At the same moment the woman can feel the change in her body, our Savior feels something too. “Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from Him, so He turned around in the the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched My robe?’” (v30).
Is the Lord worried He might be running low on supernatural power? Is He stressed that whatever just happened might drain His healing tank? Absolutely not. Christ doesn’t have a limited supply of ability. He’s not a finite power budget. His tank is always full to overflowing!
Doesn’t Jesus Know?
Anybody else scratching their head over His question, “Who touched My robe?” (v30)? As the Son of God, doesn’t Jesus know it was? I mean this IS the same Messiah who knows what people are thinking (Mt 12:25; 22:18; Mk 2:8; Lk 6:8; 11:17; Jn 2:25).
John MacArthur believes Jesus asked this question, not out of ignorance, but so that He might draw the woman out of the crowd and allow her to praise God for what had happened. In other words, the Lord knows it’s important for her to identify herself.
Think about it this way. Have you ever been embarrassed by what Jesus has done for you? Don’t be! It’s His story! Give Him the praise He deserves. Give Him the credit that rightfully belongs to HIm. It’s NOT about you! It’s ALL about HIM!!! You never know. God may use your story to convince someone else to seek His help.
They’ve ALL Touched You!
When nobody fesses up to touching Jesus’ robe, His closest followers think He should just drop it. “His disciples said to Him, ‘Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can You ask, ‘Who touched Me?’” (v31).
According to Luke, Peter is the one telling the Lord not to worry about it (Lk 9:45). You’ve GOT to be kidding, Jesus. Look at this crowd! Who touched You? They’ve ALL touched You!
Jesus won’t let it go. “But He kept on looking around to see who had done it” (v32). He just isn’t throwing in the towel. He desperately wants to meet whoever it is. Apparently Jairus’ dying daughter will just have to wait.
Shaking Like a Leaf
Suddenly, a terrified female nervously steps forward. “Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of Him and told Him what she had done” (v33).
She’s shaking like a leaf, figuring she’s in big trouble. How dare this lady barge in on Jairus and Jesus! Her hopes of an inconspicuous drive-by healing go down the toilet. Quivering with fear and embarrassment, she collapses in the dust at the feet of Christ.
The Whole Truth
At this point, she tells the Lord her story. You can just as easily translate how she “told Him what she had done” as she “told Him the whole truth” (v33 NIV, NASB, NRS, NKJV).
The woman holds nothing back and spills her guts. And you think Elsa is famous for letting it go. She tells Jesus everything. When the bleeding started. How gross and gory it got. How she’s struggled. Even her desperate dream to get a quiet cure without bothering Him. The whole truth.
Declaring Spiritual Bankruptcy
She’s a walking example of our Savior’s opening line of His most famous message. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (Mt 5:3). We open ourselves up to God’s blessing when we declare spiritual bankruptcy.
This is exactly why the Lord wouldn’t just give it up and get going? He didn’t just want to heal her physically but wants the woman to experience spiritual healing as well. A key component of her cure is telling others what Christ has done for her.
Sharing Our Story Is Sharing His Story
We often hear how we are to share our story. Absolutely. But it seems to me it’s not so much mine. It’s actually His story. Once Jesus rescues me and makes me part of His spectacular narrative, I have no right keep quiet.
The story isn’t about me. It isn’t about you. Oh, it most certainly includes us, you can bet your life on that. But it’s HIS story. Pete puts it this way. “If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way” (1Pet 3:15).
It Wasn’t His Wardrobe
When she’s done sharing all that God has done for her, Jesus responds. “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over” (v34). Christ wants her to know that it wasn’t His wardrobe that made her well. It wasn’t that at all.
It’s her faith. In other words, she trusted deep down that Jesus is the very source of God’s goodness and divine healing. She had a very simple and incredibly desperate trust in Him.
Faith That’s Legit
Jesus wants her to understand that it wasn’t the touch of His robe that stopped the bleeding. It was her faith in the Son of God. Somehow, someway, she believed whatever He chose to do would be for the best. She trusted that He wouldn’t hold back.
As goofy, incorrect, and immature as her faith in Jesus was, it was genuine. It was legit. It was the real deal. What a relief! Isn’t it good to know we don’t have to know the Four Spiritual Laws, memorize the Sermon on the Mount, and possess a seminary degree before Christ will hear our cry?!?!?
Our Faith Grows
Maybe you think you don’t measure up for a meeting with the Messiah. Sorry, you need to check a few more boxes, have a better LinkedIn profile, a better religious resume first. Check back later. Don’t call us. We’ll call you.
What He wants is a relationship. He wants us to know Him as well as He knows us. As we grow in knowing Him, He grows our faith in Him.
Christ gives her one very powerful command. “Go in peace” (v34). Peace. There’s something she’s not experienced for the last twelve years. The struggle has been very real. But now the struggle is over.
She can now live her life in the peace that only God can provide. It “exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7). Yeah, THAT peace! Peace out!!
Your Call Is Important to Us
This lady knows that Jesus is NO take-a-number-and-I-will-get-to-you-when-I-have-a-moment God. Calling on Christ is NOT like calling customer service and getting stuck in telephone hell. “Your call is very important to us. We’re currently experiencing high call volume. We’ll connect you with the first available operator as soon as possible.”
Jesus is available NOW. I mean RIGHT NOW! THE Operator is standing by…just waiting to hear from you. He WANTS you to bother Him! He HOPES you’ll bother Him!!
If the Messiah can do it for this pariah, what do you think He can do for you?