This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I’ll do 2 posts from this story.
In Mark 5 we read a story of a woman who has been suffering with an issue of blood. Verse 26 tells us that she “had suffered under many physicians and spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse”. Not a lot of detail, but that’s pretty grim. She had spent to the point of poverty, but still was sick. She would have been “unclean” and likely living among the other “unclean” on the edge of town. And, this was her life for MORE THAN A DECADE! 12 Years, she suffered with this issue, and the isolation and stigma that it brought. There is no mention of her relationship with her family, but it is fair to say that she was at least limited in her interactions with them and may have been estranged from them. But she knew the stories of healing that were Jesus’ reputation. She decides to try to get close. This is not an easy decision, because as one of the unclean, she would not have been welcome to wander through the crowd. She’d be greeted by name-calling or worse. Going through the crowd would take some resolve.
But she had the resolve to make the attempt. One of my favorite Christian bands of all time – Everybody Duck – wrote their song “Close” about this story. The lyrics say “The crowd around her last hope so thick she could not get through… The largeness of the crowd prevented her from getting through, but she pressed on where most of us would have not.” And that is the key. She pressed on and touched the edge of His cloak. Unexpectedly, Jesus then stops and asks “Who touched me”. His disciples scoff at his silly question. “You see this crowd pressing around you and yet you say `who touched me'” (vs 31). The woman knows that He is talking about her and she falls at His feet and tells her story. He then tells her that her faith has healed her. But with this statement comes the second surprising thing Jesus says. After years of carrying the stigma of being unclean, alone and destitute, Jesus looks her in the eye and calls her “daughter”. That is powerful!
Here are my takeaways from this story:
1- Close – I will give credit again to Everybody Duck for this first point – it chokes me up every time I listen to the song. There were others that were pressed in against Jesus but not all of them had a life changing experience. Everybody Duck sums their song up by saying “the difference in touch simply that hers was made in faith“. Gut check time. I have attended church my whole life. In fact, I am on staff at a church right now. I am “close” to Jesus all the time, but do I take that closeness for granted? Do I still see that He is always making life-changing connections with those who desperately need it? Do I still recognize my own need? Or am I too quick to point out the unclean nature of others that are seeking Him? I pray that God will help us see the needs that surround us and see His miraculous work. May we never take God for granted.
2- Determined – On the other side of the story is the woman who is so beaten down by life – labelled, impoverished and out of options. Yet, somewhere, buried beneath the hard experiences, hurt and loneliness, there is a measure of faith and hope that propels her forward. Despite the names she may have been called along the way, the difficulty of the task, and the history of being let down before, she continues to press forward – all the way to Jesus. And her faith is rewarded with healing. But more than that. It is met with belonging. Jesus shows the love and value that she has to Him. “Daughter, go in peace”. In this touching moment, we are reminded again, that Jesus is able to heal us and meet our needs. But more than that, He offers relationship. He offers love, and a place for us. We may think we know what we need from God, but when we seek Him with determination, He goes beyond what we think we need to meet our deeper needs.
3- Hope Amidst Hopelessness – In the talk-show world, this would be called a tease. You see, while Jesus heals this woman and gives her the place for her story to be shared, there is more going on. This episode occurs in the midst of another tense situation – that will be the topic of the next post at Living up to My Name. Stay tuned!