I'm Diana, happily married, and blessed by God on a daily basis. I live with chronic illnesses, but I don't let that get me down!
The Woman's Illness
The gospel of Mark says a particular woman had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. What an outcast she must have been in her culture to have been bleeding for that long! I've heard some people speculate about her having a clotting disorder called hemophilia. Did she? Perhaps. Her bleeding had to have been more than a woman's normal menstrual cycle, but no one is certain what her illness or sickness actually was. There is much more to her than her illness. She had faith in Jesus!
Of course I wasn't there and don't know anyone who was, but by knowing a small bit of the culture then, this woman was an outcast. The bleeding made her unclean, both spiritually and physically. She can't have smelled very good, no matter her attempts to do so. I imagine her depressed, keeping to herself to minimize others' comments and disdain for her. After twelve years, I bet she wished she were unfeeling and deaf to the criticizing, but who can ever really be numb about those things?
Mark 5:26 says, "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." Anyone who has struggled with a chronic illness of any kind can feel like they can relate to that statement! Your body continues to worsen, and you go to doctor after doctor, specialist after specialist, and still don't have any answers. You feel like every penny of your "disposable" income goes to pay medical bills, and every one of those facilities/ doctors are on some sort of a payment plan. How hopeless you feel! You continue trying, spending the money you had to scrape together, just to leave without answers. I'm quite sure she felt a whole lot the same!
How Did She Hear about Jesus?
The Bible does an excellent job of documenting true stories of Jesus healing the sick. Jesus healed them in droves. Everywhere he traveled, the sick were either brought to him or the sick people came themselves to be healed by him. His reputation preceded him wherever he went. The healer, the miracle worker, the teacher, the Rabbi all describe this same Jesus. The residents of that land didn't have Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, but he was well-known in the region! The miracles he performed and the drastically different teaching from what the Jews were accustomed to were such that people discussed him wherever they went.
What about this sick woman? How did she hear about Jesus? Was it while she was at the city well drawing her water? She was probably there at a different time from all the other women who lived there because of her condition, but she could have heard others talking while she was drawing her water. What about at the market? Did she overhear people visiting among themselves while she was there too? Was she living in a group with others who were also sick, unclean, and cast off from those they loved and they shared all the information they heard of sick people in nearby towns being healed?
This woman did much more than just hearing about the man Jesus. She had faith in him! She believed he was the real deal! I can't grasp her fear at being in such a throng of people who had come to hear Jesus and to be healed by him! Yet her faith was so strong that she dared to attend as well! She knew, beyond any shade of a doubt, that he was able to give her the help that had been denied to her for so long!
She Only Touched His Cloak
Jesus had taken a boat across a lake and was greeted by a large crowd (Mark 5:21). He was in the middle of teaching that crowd when a synagogue leader named Jarius interrupted him, pleading for Jesus to go to his home to heal his daughter, so Jesus stopped teaching and got up to accompany him home (Matthew 9:18-19).
This sick woman must have been panicking a little at the thought of the Master leaving before he healed her! Matthew's account of the story in chapter 9 verse 20 begins the paragraph with "Just then..." I picture her making a rush to get closer to him. Luke's book says the crowd nearly crushed Jesus. Her chance to be healed, perhaps her last chance ever, was slipping away quickly!
Faith is powerful, and to have complete faith in God is healing to both body and soul.
She didn't reach out to stop him from leaving. She believed in Jesus so much that she knew that if she only touched the edge of his cloak, she would be healed. He didn't have to make a big production of it, but she knew there would be enough power in even his clothing to heal her. Yes, even in his clothes! When she did, she knew instantly that her bleeding had ceased.
Can you imagine how she felt in that moment? How many sundry emotions were rolling within her? She was healed!! Twelve years of bleeding, but no longer! All the effects in her body that were caused by her bleeding, like perhaps anemia, weakness, and dizziness would have been gone as well.
Her health was restored! Without the bleeding problem, the possibility for her to be accepted back into her society, back into the synagogue, and her family was present! She could get her life back and begin really living again! Oh, what a glorious day!
Overcoming the Fear of Discovery
Jesus stopped where he was and asked who had touched him. We know that he is the Son of God, so he already knew. I believe Jesus asked for the benefit of the crowd, as he did on other occasions.
Luke 8:47 reads, "Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed." Don't you know she wanted to remain unknown? She, an unclean woman who was considered to be a nasty nobody, touched this healer, this Jesus.
I wonder how the crowd reacted to her fear and to her confession. I have to remind myself sometimes that the events written about in the Bible were very real, and are more than the black and red letters I read. There were sights, smells, and real people who had real reactions to real situations. I'm sure some of them hurled insults at her, while others did the equivalent of "booing" at her. I imagine it only added to her fear. But her faith was great, and she leaned on it again.
I also wish I could have been able to see the look on Jesus' face as she spoke to him, revealing her action. She may have expected the very worst to happen, perhaps even to be stoned for what she had done. Jesus knew this woman's life story and knew exactly what she needed. I imagine his eyes and voice showed her love and compassion that she had never before experienced. Being an outcast, it may have been twelve years since anyone looked at her with tenderness.
When he spoke the words, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." (Mark 5:34), she must have felt whole in every way. "Your faith has healed you." She acted on her faith, and was not condemned by Jesus for the manner in which she did it.
What Action Do We Need to Take?
I'm not about to point my finger at anyone for not always having the actions to go along with our faith. I, myself, fall far short in my Christian ways daily. I try, repent to the Father when I fail, and, knowing He forgives me when I ask with my heart, begin anew in my Christian walk.
As the old saying goes, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." I oftentimes have good intentions, but my follow-through needs some work. The lady with the bleeding problem acted on her faith, going to great lengths I'm sure to be near Jesus. I think her reaction may have been involuntary; she just reached out and touched his cloak!
Her faith is something we could all take a lesson from. Don't let society dictate your faith. Don't allow pressure from those around us to keep us from doing what we know we should (I'm talking to myself here too). Do you need to call someone who has been on your mind? Do it! Need to go visit that sweet older couple down the street? You should!
Just like when Jesus asked who touched him for the benefit of everyone present, that's how we are all affected when we act on our faith. Everyone involved is helped, not just the recipient!
I have some greeting cards in a drawer I've been meaning to send for a while. I think I'll go get them ready to mail out. There's no time like right now to do those good intentions I've been using to pave a road I have no wish to walk on! I don't want to smooth out the road to hell when I'm bound for heaven!
Please Share Your Thoughts!
What are some of your impressions of this biblical event? I'm looking forward to hearing them!
© 2017 Diana Majors