Will Jesus heal me, deliver me, answer my prayer, and “fix me” if I have faith? We all have probably breezed by this story recorded in 3 of the gospels without pausing to consider the scene as it unfolded and what was behind it. Don’t feel guilty. The gospel writers and disciples at times seemed to be in such a hurry and were becoming so used to Jesus’ miracles that the “wow factor” seemed small. But the realities of this “backstory” are worth considering.
“Who touched my clothes” Jesus asked, knowing healing power had gone from Him (Mark 5:30). The disciples thought Jesus was absurd to ask such a question since a throng of people swarmed and almost crushed Him as He walked to the home of Jairus, a synagogue ruler, where He was to perform another “routine” miracle. (Luke 8:42) A pitiful woman edged her way back through the crowd, fell at Jesus’ feet and in trembling told Jesus her story. She was “unclean,” yet she “defiled” the Messiah. She had experienced a bloody discharge for 12 years and had exhausted her hope and all her resources with doctors who could not help. People must have shrunk back in panic to avoid becoming “unclean” by contact.
Calling her out as He did, Jesus pretty much caused her to “go public” with her story. According to strict Levitical law, being “unclean” meant no human contact. There was no temple worship, no offerings, no festivals and likely very limited social contact, and those from a distance. Imagine the rejection, shame and fear this woman experienced daily. Yet by her story and desperate faith in coming to Jesus, faith in the One who wore the cloak (Matt.9:21), not the cloak itself, her bleeding stopped immediately. She was healed! But what would Jesus think or say to this woman who, while “unclean,” dared to touch the Christ because her fear was surpassed by her faith and desperation?
Imagine, if you will, the explosion of comfort and acceptance she felt when Jesus responded in kindness saying “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (Mark 5:34) What warmth! In all of scripture and Jesus’ many miracles, there is no formula to guarantee healing. This is hard for us to accommodate. We want one. But if Jesus doesn’t offer the formula there is none no matter what man might say. Jesus power is always under His control.
The crucial application in this story is our need to extend our faith towards Jesus. Just Jesus, not what He might do for us or what we think we need. The story has something to say to those who come from a place of non-belief in Him as well as to those who have faith in Jesus but also have reservations, limits to their faith. Where do you see yourself in these examples? The proud will not allow themselves to be humbled and ask for Jesus. They are satisfied in the sufficiency they provide and relish what independence affords them. The doubters would be embarrassed if Jesus doesn’t come through for them, or do His “thing” the way they have scripted and expected. (Jesus writes His own scripts)
The “undeserving,’ those still sick with sin and rebellion, just don’t feel right about receiving from Jesus what they haven’t paid for, and they haven’t yet cleaned up their lives like they assume is a pre-requisite to meeting this Jesus, this Holy One. (If they only knew the truth!) The fearful are afraid of what would happen if Jesus were to move in their lives and what change might mean. They’ve heard a lot from others about what to expect and not expect from God, but they haven’t done much investigating for themselves as to what God is really like.
The reward is for the “faith-full,” like the woman in our story. They are the “risk takers” yet there really is no risk when God is seen as good, sufficient and sovereign. The “faith-full” often look silly to the world, and sadly at times scary and embarrassing even to people of the faith community. The faith-full are a strange breed. They are bold. They are “God pleasers.” “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6) In the needs you experience and like the woman Jesus did heal, does your faith surpass your fear, pride, doubt and self-worthiness? Think About It.