Her story resonates with me.
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
-Gospel of Mark 5: 25-33
We only see a snapshot of this woman, but she had a past which led to her actions. She bled for twelve years, suffering the subsequent effects of chronic anemia. She probably had some wealth to afford the many doctors who tried and failed to heal her. Her medical issue being beyond the physicians of the age, she lost everything. In that era, disability had not only physical, but social and spiritual implications. Her bleeding would make her “unclean,” preventing her from participating in religious rites. She would not be allowed to touch or be touched by anyone. Imagine the loneliness of twelve years without human touch. Physical isolation and poverty stripped her of social status, leaving her a beggar and outcast in society.
What mindset, then, did she have in approaching Jesus? She could have been bitter and accused Jesus for the years He let her suffer. Instead, she recognized her need and acted in desperate faith. She took a great risk in touching Jesus, for it would make Him unclean, so she touched Him discretly to avoid retribution.
Instead of her touch making Him unclean, His touch made her clean. After twelve years of isolation, her freedom came through touch. She instantly felt she had been “freed from her suffering.” Mark writes this account in the beautiful contrast of slavery and freedom. She suffered under the oppression of disease, and was freed.
Jesus called her daughter, removed her shame, and proclaimed that her faith made her free. In that moment of restoration, her body became whole. She was made clean, and could go to the temple to commune with God. She could again be touched and restored to her community.
Rags of filth
Clothed in wealth
Faith made whole
This is the gospel. We come with nothing, and through holistic transformation, gain everything at the feet of Jesus.