She lingered in the shadows, hearing a distant crowd draw near. Her body a mere shadow of who she once was, frail from years of ailment and failed treatments. Twelve long years had taken their toll. What began as a simple bleed perpetuated into more than a decade of tests, treatments and tortured hope. Every penny spent, every ounce of dignity gone, this woman bore within her veins a hopeless cause. She had endured much at the hands of physicians trying to heal her constant hemorrhage. Not a person in town didn’t know of her condition as illness bore witness over every ounce of her being. For twelve years she had pursued all possible options and remedies. But at the end of it all, she remained diseased, destitute and discouraged, worse off than ever before. The crowd now came into her view. Rumors of this Jesus has spread through the town. A miracle man, a great healer, a prophet. Some even called Him the Messiah. As she heard their voices grow louder, this decrepit woman felt one last flicker of hope, that final spark before the flame completely went out. Could this be the day?
This woman’s account in Mark 5:25-34 is a classic miracle story, one that had grown familiar. But as Week Six of You Belong To The Bridegroom brought me to these verses again, I was able to see this passage with fresh eyes and a new perspective. The Word of God IS living and active! This was a woman who had spent over a decade in pain, isolation and shame. At that point in history, Old Testament law still ruled in Jewish society. Leviticus 15:9 & 25 states that any woman with bleeding was considered unclean as long as the bleeding persisted and anyone who touched her would become unclean as well. So for twelve YEARS this woman was considered a source of defilement and shunned. In remembering the Pharisee’s assumption that a boy was born blind because of either his or his parents sin (John 9:2), its safe to assume this woman bore the same judgement as well. Unclean, outcast, shamed. She had tried every remedy, spent every penny, saw every physician she could. Yet she remained afflicted.
Matthew Henry said it well, “It is usual with people not to apply themselves to Christ till they have tried in vain all other helpers and find them, as certainly they will, physicians of no value. And He will be found a sure refuge, even to those who make Him their last refuge.” This precious woman found such words to be true that day. She knew her desperate need for Jesus’ touch: “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” (Mark 5:28) Braving the shame and mockery she would face for going out in public, let alone a crowd, she pressed through the crowd till at last she touched the back of His robe. Instantly she was healed!
The Scriptures tell us what healed this woman as Jesus “perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth.” (vs. 30) As I wrestled with this phrase, I went back to the original Greek roots and came to a beautiful realization. This “power” was no superhero, ultra-zap that my mind often assumed. In true translation, it was Christ’s virtue – the full essence of Himself – that healed the woman. Wow! Christ and Christ alone brought healing to a woman. How often do we seek His hand when it is His fullness that we so desperately need?!
Jesus knew this secret act of faith by the woman. It pleased Him, it drew His attention, it was of utmost importance to Him. This woman who felt unworthy of His attention but desperate for His power realized she would not go unnoticed. She approached her Healer “fearing and trembling…and fell down before Him” (vs. 33) The woman was wholly honest, vulnerable and humble before Jesus. The Savior of the world stopped all the commotion around Him, fixed His full attention on a woman bowed low at His feet, and gave her restoration. True, she could have been healed of just her physical affliction that day but as many of us know to be true, the emotions that had grown so familiar would have carried on. Even without the bleeding, would she still define herself as outcast, wretched, ashamed? How beautiful is the love of our Savior! “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” (vs. 34) The woman sought mere healing; the Messiah bestowed a greater gift – peace. He desired to remove more than her physical ailment; He desired to lift her head.
We are all this woman, battered by life’s circumstances. Our afflictions may vary but our heart cries are all the same. “If only I can get to Jesus.” Beloved, His arms are ever open wide! Cast away the shame that binds. Press through life’s crowds and commotion to be with the only One who can set us free. May we all find what He bestowed on the broken woman that day. Peace.