A continuing series considering what the Scripture has to say about healing.
21 And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea. 22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, 23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him. 25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, 26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. 28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? 31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?from the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 5
32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. 34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
I hope our attention was focused last time on the beginning verses in Mark chapter 5, in which Jesus delivered a man seriously beset by demons. Crossing back across the Sea of Galilee to “the other side” a crowd soon gathered, presumably alerted to Jesus’ presence by word of mouth. No larger than the lake is, the sail would have been visible for a most or all the distance of the trip.
Note: On 2/17/2023 a postscript was added to the previous post concerning the location named in Mark compared to the other Gospel accounts.
We aren’t told exactly where this return landing on the Sea of Galilee occurred, though in Mark chapter six we are told that Jesus proceeded from his encounters recorded Mark 5 to “His own country”. I presume that He was bound for Nazareth, where His family still lived. A major road in that direction ran southwest from Magdala on the western shore. In Mark 6 we have an account of the town folk taking up an offense at Jesus because they had seen him grow up in their midst, which they assumed made Him just like them and unqualified to make the claims He was making. Some think this landing was at Capernaum on the North end of the Sea. Jesus did adopt Capernaum as home base after the religious officials drove Him from Nazareth (Matthew 13, Mark 6, Luke 4).
In the crowd that came to meet Jesus was Jairus, a synagogue official who had a very sick daughter. He told Jesus that the girl was at the point of death. But the next words that crossed Jairus’ lips were words of faith in the ability of Jesus to heal the girl. We need to remember how Jairus’ used his mouth. He did not deny the situation, but neither did he pronounce that the current state was the last word.
Today, however, we are going to look at a parenthetical (!) healing – a healing on the way to a healing. Even as Jesus agreed to go to Jairus’ house and the crowd came along, a woman in the crowd approached Jesus for healing (Vv24-34).
We see this woman had an issue of blood twelve years. There are known maladies which might cause such, but no effort to diagnose is made here, as the cause is not relevant (other than it was not from above), and I am not qualified to do more than speculate as to cause. There were, however, strict laws concerning such issue of bodily fluids (Leviticus 15) and this woman would have been shunned in Jewish society. She would not have been allowed to be in the press of this crowd. Anyone she touched would have been considered “unclean” according to those laws. We are also told the woman had already spent all her substance seeking a cure of physicians and was only worse. Isn’t the situation largely the same today, for those afflicted with any chronic condition?
Note the faith expressed by the woman to press into the crowd to carry out her mission to merely touch Jesus’ hem! Also, interesting that she immediately felt different. Whether this was a change in physical sensation or satisfaction of belief might not be clear. Jesus felt it too, though she likely did not touch His person. When He asked, “Who touched My clothes?”, the disciples chided Jesus for even asking, since many were obviously touching Him in the throng. She trembled with fear to make a public admission of her healing, likely due to long years of suffering public disdain in addition to her physical symptoms. Perhaps part of her trembling was at the recognition that she was clearly in the presence of God. Remember those under the old Covenant had not the familiarity of adoption as we have now (Galatians 4:6, Hebrews 4:16).
I believe there were multiple reasons that Jesus called her out. Foremost is that physical healing isn’t all she needed. Jesus called her “daughter”. How high a leap from “untouchable outcast”! How near the new Covenant! He declared peace over her. How long since she had known it! He publicly commended her faith and pronounced her healed.
Some might think Jesus’ question rhetorical. I believe it was an honest question. He did not know at first who had drawn power from Him. Though He could have sought the answer in the Spirit. Had Jesus not made an issue of addressing the woman, we would not have this miraculous account to inform us of the importance of faith and of persistence in it.
A third reason for Jesus making this public is that the woman’s vocalization of her healing served to cement its manifestation in her experience, ensuring she could hold on to it. Chronic illnesses are troublesome in that they are so… familiar to us. Their continual presence tends to foment unbelief that anything else is possible. Praise the Lord that though with men things are impossible, with God all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26)
After the cross, we benefit from the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah: By His stripes we are healed (v53:5). But Jesus had not yet gone to the cross, though the time was near. Were these healings demonstrations that Jesus is not constrained by time? Hmmmm… certainly something to muse about! There were obviously healing episodes in the Old Testament, usually involving one of the prophets. Those were clearly foreshadowing the loving work of Jesus, purchasing us back from the bondage to sin and its consequence.