Desperation is the first word that comes into my mind when I think about the woman in this narrative. In Biblical times, bleeding made you “unclean”. Even a woman’s normal menstrual flow made her unclean for the duration of it. She was required to separate herself and not touch anyone or be touched by them. Anyone who came into physical contact with her would be considered unclean themselves. The woman in the narrative we just read had been bleeding for 12 years.
Mark tells us that no doctors had been able to help her and that she had used all of her money looking for a cure. She would have been an outcast on every level, unable even to attend synagogue because of her condition. She was lonely, sick and exhausted with nothing to lose, but even in the midst of this seemingly impossible situation, she still had a flicker of hope. She believed that if she could just touch Jesus’ garment she would be healed. She worked her way through the crowd and made her way to Jesus, just laying her fingers gently on his hem. Immediately, she knew she had been healed.
What a flood of emotions must have been running through her; joy at the thought that her long trial was finally over, followed by intense fear when Jesus noticed that he’d been touched. By law, being touched by an unclean person would have made Jesus unclean, and he would have been well within his rights to have her punished for her brazenness. Jesus’ disciples thought he was crazy for being concerned about being touched when they were all being jostled by the crowd, but the woman knew exactly what Jesus had sensed and she was filled with fear. And yet, she falls at his feet, opening herself to humiliation, and confesses what she has done, ready to accept the punishment that she must have surely thought was coming.
This picture of Jesus is so beautiful. He wasn’t looking to accuse. I believe he wanted her to know that he knew what she had done and why. He knew the courage it took for her to touch him and the faith that compelled her to do it. He wanted her to know that she was accepted and no longer unclean. He affirmed her by calling her Daughter. That day, the woman knew Jesus as her Healer. Her life would be forever changed.
Director of Small Group Ministry
New Hope Church
703.971.4673 Ex. 108