“If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.” Mark 5:28
This beautiful story of the woman healed by touching Jesus’ garment has been one of my favorites. Each time I read it I see something I had not seen before. The Word of God is like that, because it is a Living Word. The Word of God does not change, but my understanding matures, and God reveals new and deeper insights that perfectly address my changing life’s circumstance or need. I’d love to share with you something new God has shown me in this familiar, yet fresh Bible story. Please take a few minutes to read the account in Mark 5:24-34. I’ll wait for you.
Now, look back at verse 24 – “A large crowd followed and pressed around him.” Jesus had crossed the lake and quickly a crowd gathered around Him. So many people were there that day; Jesus was a very popular figure at the time. Multitudes followed Him wherever He went, all pressing around Him, reaching out to touch Him. Why was this woman different from all the rest? The crowd was jostling, bumping and touching Jesus. What was different about her touch?
Both questions can be answered by one word in verse 34: “faith.” She came to Jesus with faith.
This woman had suffered for 12 years from a bleeding disorder that has left her not only impoverished, but also ostracized from everyone. The Levitical law stated that a woman experiencing a discharge of blood was unclean, and anything she touched was unclean. Any one she touched would also be unclean. (Lev. 15:19-30) Including her husband and children, her neighbors and friends, people in the marketplace, at the well; and heaven forbid if she thought she could join in the festivals and celebrations of her Jewish faith. Leviticus 15:31 gives us some understanding of her helpless and hopeless situation: “You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness.” For 12 long years she was shut out of every place where people might gather, so she would not contaminate anyone else. She had spent all she had on doctors who could not cure her. Look back at the Leviticus verse – even her death would be tainted, she would “die in [her] uncleanness.”
She came with nothing more than a gaping need and the faith to believe that Jesus could meet that need. Look at Mark 5:28, “she thought ‘If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.’” She did not say, “I might be healed,” she said “I will be healed.” And her faith proved true. She touched his clothing, and “immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering” (Mark 5:29). Her faith had led her to Jesus and to healing. This is faith that pleases Him. Faith that reaches out knowing that He is the answer to every need.
Of all the people touching and bumping and jostling Jesus, He knew somebody’s touch was different. Somebody’s touch had activated His divine power. He asked who that somebody was. Mind you, Jesus knew who had touched Him, and He knew why. But He wanted this woman to know that her touch had touched His heart. And I believe he wanted the crowd to know that this woman’s humble faith had ignited His healing power. I love Bill Bright’s comment: “God does not require you to have great faith. You simply are to have faith in a great God.”
Now here is the something new I’ve been pondering – who am I in this scene? Am I one of the many who have come to rub up against this “magic man” and hope that something rubs off on me? Am I one of the crowd who came to “see the show?” I wonder, am I following Jesus because He is the popular one of the day? Am I in the crowd because I think someone will see my empty cup and put something in it? Why do you come to Jesus? Because He has some wise words or teaching? Because you admire His compassion and humanitarian work? Maybe you follow Jesus because you want to be part of the crowd, after all it’s a good place to make connections. Are you here to preserve your image as a “good Christian”?
In John’s Gospel, after Jesus had feed five thousand people, the crowds again gathered around Him. Jesus made a bold statement: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs, but because you ate the loaves and had your fill: (John 6:26). Everyone has a reason to come to Jesus. Some come to fill their bellies, some come to fill their minds, but some come to Jesus to fill their hearts.
Why, with so many people around Him, did only one woman experience Jesus in a powerful, life-changing, transforming way? I believe it is because she came with a humble heart, believing that Jesus was truly God and He alone had the power to change her life. She had no other agenda but to experience His power.
Perhaps it’s time to ask the question: Why do we come to Jesus? Because He is a good teacher and is kind to the downtrodden? Or because it’s what we’ve always done? Do we come to Him for what we think we can gain from Him? Or do we dare come to Him because He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life? Do we come to Him because He is the source of light and hope and peace? Will we come to Him because He is God?
Oh that we would come just because He is. Love. Mercy. Hope. Grace. Peace. Joy. Redemption. Eternity. God.
Lord Jesus, I confess that often I have come to You with my own selfish motives in mind, wanting to have my fill. Please give me a pure and humble heart that seeks You because of who You are, not just for what you can do for me. Amen.