In these verses we are told of a woman who had to deal with a long term illness that had a serious impact upon her. Twelve years had passed in her life since her condition first manifested itself and deterioration was all she had known, for "she was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse" (Mk 5.26). Many of the choicest of souls have been called upon to walk this path. Where unbelievers are concerned it can sometimes lead to an embittered spirit that dismisses thoughts of divine love altogether, but this is surely folly. In this womans case it ultimately brought her to Christ and lasting blessing was the result. This is the certain outcome for all who come to Him in faith. In the plan of God those of us who are believers may not be given to know the touch of physical healing, but we can all be assured of His tender compassion and care. As the hymn aptly states:
All your anxiety, all your care,
Bring to the mercy seat leave it there;
Never a burden He cannot bear,
Never a friend like Jesus.
Edward H Joy
The trouble that brought her misery
Because of the fact that she was a Jewess this trouble would have affected this woman not only physically but also socially and religiously in her spiritual exercises before her God. In Leviticus 15.19 and 25 a description is given detailing the demands put upon a woman who had an issue of blood. She was to be put apart for seven days and anyone who came into contact with her during that time was pronounced unclean. If her condition ran beyond the seven days then she was seen as unclean for the duration of the illness. In all that time she would be deprived of social fellowship and was not allowed to bring her devotions to God. Twelve years is a long time to be in such a state of misery. Her illness had also diminished her materially and impoverished her in her persistence to find a cure - she had "spent all her living upon physicians" (Lk 8.43). Not only so, she "had suffered many things of many physicians" (Mk 5.26). Such, surely, are the consequences experienced often by those who are away from God. The only answer is to have the determination to get to Christ and to reach out to Him.
The touch that brought recovery
She touched the border or the fringe of His garment. Let us pause for a moment to consider that this unclean woman touched the garment of the blessed Man who was undefiled in the way, who walked in the law of the Lord (Ps 119.1). Hebrews 7.26 records that He is "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners". Thank God for the intrinsic holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ - undefiled in His path and undefiled in His priesthood. Thus He had the right and the compassion to meet the need of the woman. Luke draws attention to a number of occasions when the Lord touched the needy. He touched the man full of leprosy, saying, "I will: be thou clean" (5.13). He touched the bier of the widows dead son and He restored him to life (7.14), yet He Himself remained uncontaminated in spite of contact with the defiled and the dead. The people brought unto Him infants that He might touch them, and how much the children need to be touched by the grace of Christ today (18.15). When Peter cut off the ear of the high priests servant, Christ "touched his ear, and healed him" (22.51). Here this resolute woman touches the border of His garment. Numbers 15.37-41 instructed Jewish men to make fringes in the borders of their garments and to put upon the fringe a ribbon of blue. We may well ask what this signified. First, it was to cause them to remember all the commandments of the Lord to do them. Second, it was to charge them that they seek not after their own heart and their own eyes and that they should be holy unto their God. No man of Adams fallen race could ever keep such a charge, but this Man of a different order came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it. He alone magnified the law and made it honourable, for " his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night" (Ps 1.2). That ribbon of blue on His garment surely spoke of the unfading perfections of the heavenly Man. After all, He is from above and did He not say, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (Jn 6.38)? He brought the glory of another world with Him and it is to such a one that the woman now stretched forth her hand. Note that her issue of blood stanched immediately. His healing is always immediate and complete and the flow dried up the instant contact was made!
The truth that brought discovery
We understand something here of the unavoidable perception of Christ. He asked, "Who touched me?" (v.45). Of course the omniscient Christ knew, but He had a purpose in asking the question. Contact led to cleansing, and cleansing must be accompanied by confession. Peter and the others made light of the question, but no words of the Lord are ever inconsequential. He had perceived what only He and the woman knew - that power had gone out from Him. He perceived the thoughts of the scribes and Pharisees saying, "What reason ye in your hearts?" (5.22). How telling it is that the thought life is known thoroughly by Him! Here it was the touch that He perceived, the touch which channelled healing power to the needy woman. Thank God for the undiminished power of the Lord. Countless multitudes have known that healing power which has come from Him, but He is none the less the all-sufficient, all-powerful Lord! The woman saw that she was not hid (8.47). There can be nothing and no one hidden from the all-perceiving gaze of the Saviour. He senses the touch of faith that reaches out to Him, He sees the individual in the crowd however insignificant that person may seem. We are not hid when we approach Him in silent petition. There may be multitudes thronging Him for attention, but He knows the singleness of my need and calls me forward before Him. Let us be sure we are not hid from Him. The very hairs of our head are numbered and He knows what things we have need of.
The telling that brought tranquillity
"She came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people " (v.47). She told the cause and the cure. Are we telling to others what He has done for us? To the man of Gadara earlier in this chapter He had said, "Return to thine own house, and shew (relate) how great things God hath done unto thee" (v.39). We need to tell our own about Him, but like the woman we are also required to confess Him before strangers. When did I last tell someone about the Saviour? The hymn writer brings the challenge:
Christian go and tell of Jesus
Who died our souls to save.
Remember the words of the Lord: "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Fathers, and of the holy angels" (9.26).
Notice how He deals with her (v.48). He owns relationship as He calls her, "Daughter". He gives reassurance to her trembling soul as He says, " be of good comfort". This word means "be of good courage", and was calculated to calm the trembling woman before Him and cheer her heart. Finally, He sends her away with the resource of peace to enjoy: "go into peace". What kindness and compassion is demonstrated to this bruised reed which He would not break (see Is 42.3). How true it is that we all go away different when we have by faith touched the glorious Son of God.
To be continued.