“[Jesus] said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:35
Jesus was on his way to Jairus’ house. Jairus was a leader in the local synagogue whose daughter was very sick, and he begged Jesus to go and heal her. This was pretty unusual because the synagogue leaders felt so threatened by Jesus and often questioned, tested, and tried to entrap him. But Jesus didn’t pay attention to class or status except when there was abuse and exploitation, so he started toward the man’s house.
This is where the story is interrupted by another story – what many of us like to call “sandwich stories” which is a story in the middle of another one. A woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years followed the crowd, and she reasoned that, if she could touch the hem of his garment, she would be healed. Keep in mind that Jesus didn’t travel alone. He had all his disciples, and the crowds surrounded him because, by this time, he was a pretty big celebrity by first century standards (even without the media hype!).
When the woman managed to touch his garment, she could tell right away that she had been healed, and then the unthinkable happened: Jesus stopped and asked who had touched him! His disciples were incredulous and told him that “everyone” was touching him because they were surrounded by a big crowd. That didn’t stop Jesus because he apparently knew there was more to this than just touching the hem of his garment, so he stopped and, of course, everything around him stopped, too.
Just imagine the silence that descended on that dusty, hot road following Jesus question: “Who touched me?” They would have waited for someone to “fess” up, and then imagine the terror the woman must have felt when she realized that he was looking for her. I think it’s helpful to remember that women were second-class citizens (maybe even third or fourth class) and were not allowed to touch or even talk with a man in public. This woman had the extra problem of being considered “unclean” because she had the issue of blood and that put her in the “untouchable” category, ostracized from family, friends, and from being in public without hollering “unclean, unclean” as she walked along. It was demeaning. Who could blame her for desperately wanting to be healed?
As she knelt before Jesus to confess that she had touched him, she might have expected to be stoned to death right then and there, but instead she received love, kindness, affirmation, and healing. Jesus affirmed her place as a “daughter” of Abraham (wouldn’t THAT make the synagogue leaders pay attention!), and he blessed her, affirming that she was healed because of her great faith. What a double blessing and gift he gave her!
There is an interesting illustration about eggs, carrots, and tea bags. What happens when they are placed in hot water? The egg becomes hard-boiled, the carrots get all mushy, but the tea bag becomes stronger. This woman’s faith was strong even though she was in hot water! How do we respond in faith when the going gets tough? Are we able to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and trust that we will find a way out? Will our faith become hard-boiled and immobile? Or will it become mushy and fall apart? Or will we see the difficulties of our lives as opportunities to reach out and hold onto the one who walks with us, who blesses us, who loves us, who claims us, who restores us to life?
May your faith grow stronger every day, and may you come to know Jesus the healer, teacher, lover, friend, and savior of your life. God bless!
p.s. Jesus also healed Jairus’ daughter – to read the entire story, check out Mark 5:21-43