There is a wonderful incident recorded in the New Testament concerning the transformation of a woman in the sight of others. The story is recorded in Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:25-34 and Luke 8:43-48. Let us look initially at Mark’s version which reads:
“And a certain woman who had had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and had not been bettered any, but rather came to worse, having heard about Jesus, she came in the press behind and touched His garment.
For she said, “If I may but touch only His clothes, I will be cured.” And instantly the fountain of her blood dried up. And she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
And knowing instantly within Himself that power had gone out of Him, Jesus turned Himself around in the press and said, “Who touched My clothes?”
And His disciples said to Him, You see the crowd pressing on You, and do You say, “Who touched Me”?
And He looked around to see her who had done this thing.
But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had been done in her, came and fell down before Him and told Him all the truth.
And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be whole from your plague.””
The story is quite simple at first reading, wherein a woman suffering a discharge of blood for some 12 years, touched Jesus’ garment and was instantly and miraculously healed. Delving into the text and considering her situation at the time however, reveals a much richer story than appears at first reading.
We read above, that a certain unknown and unnamed woman had suffered from a discharge of blood for about 12 years and she had sought all the available medical help from local doctors. As a result of her attempts at healing, she has suffered greatly at the hands of the doctors, both physically and financially, such that she was now penniless. All her money had been used up, and she was both physically and financially in worse condition than she was 12 years before. All the pain and suffering which she bought from her doctors, had availed her nothing, but to be worse off, in every way.
We need to understand the situation of a woman in Israel at the time, living under the Law of Moses, for the law specifically contained verses relating to this woman and her condition, in particular, Leviticus 15:19-33. There we read that any woman with such a blood discharge was considered “unclean” and was restricted to her house where she was considered “unclean”, until the blood flow had stopped for at least seven days. This woman had been unclean for 12 years!
Worse still, everything which an unclean person touched, or used or sat upon, was automatically considered unclean! Everything required a ritual cleaning before anyone else could touch or use them, for uncleanliness was highly contagious. If one came into contact with anything which an unclean person had used, or even sat upon, one was immediately considered ritually unclean, and was required to undertake prescribed cleansing rituals. Being “unclean,” was a big deal at the time. Indeed, it was considered so bad that if one was caught flouting the law and leaving one’s house and contaminating others, the prescribed sentence was death by stoning.
We can reasonably surmise that this certain woman had heard rumours of Jesus and of His words, of His works, of His casting out of demons, and of His healing . And now here He was, passing through her village, surrounded by His disciples, the hangers-on, the interested, the gawkers, and those seeking His healing. But by now the rumours which had been carried back to her were not longer rumours, they were stories of healing, perhaps even testimonies from her neighbours of the amazing happening which were occurring at the hand of Jesus. Her spirit was now stirred and she was saying to herself, “I’ve had enough of this! I want healed! Never mind that they stone me – what can be worse than living like this forever?” Then this certain woman left her home to find Jesus saying, “If I may but touch only His clothes, I will be cured.”
Let us consider her condition as she left home, apparently by herself, for the bible records no companion. After bleeding for 12 years, this certain woman would have been anaemic from blood loss. She had no money, so she would likely also be malnourished and constantly weak from hunger. After 12 years being housebound, likely sitting or lying for long periods, her muscles would be weak and her bones frail. This woman would not be standing tall, but struggling, even to walk.
Sanitation in Israel at that time, in a village or in a small town for a woman with no money and who was unable to leave her house even to fetch water lest she contaminate the well and all its utensils, would have been rudimentary, to say the least. Without disposable pads or bandages or the facility to readily shower, wash or sanitise either herself or her clothing or pads or bandages, this certain woman and her house and clothes would have smelled badly indeed. Not only would her weak and emaciated appearance have drawn attention to her as she tried to penetrate the crowds surrounding Jesus, her smell alone would do that. Finally, in a village or small town, we can be certain that everyone would know about this certain woman and her unclean condition . For her, setting out to find Jesus was a tantamount to suicide mission. ‘Be healed by Jesus, or die in the attempt’, seems a fair summation of her likely mindset and she crossed her house threshold in search of Jesus and His healing.
History records that she succeeded in her plan to simply touch the hem of Jesus’ clothes. Against all odds, she managed to penetrate the crowd and stand within arm’s reach of Jesus and as she did, she did not hesitate; she reached out and touched His clothing.
As soon as she did, the whole picture changed before her very eyes. Suddenly Jesus stopped and turned around in the pressing and heaving crowd and asking His disciples, “Who touched My clothes?” You can imagine the unrecorded answers of this disciples to Jesus “Oh come on Jesus, what do you mean ‘Who touched My clothes?’ How can we know? There are hundreds of people here! It could be anyone!” Then Jesus replied to them, as we read in Luke 8:46 saying “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” What had happened, was the as the woman touched Jesus in Faith, healing power left Him.
Jesus, the Son of God, then stood there, looking around. I really doubt that this certain woman could have been more obvious to His eyes as she cowered in fear, her body language telling all, showing all. Then, v33 above, “the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had been done in her, came and fell down before Him and told Him all the truth.”
One can hardly imagine the overwhelming feelings of elation, relief and thanks which must have flowed through her whole body as in v34 Jesus “said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” One minute she is in fear and trepidation as Jesus seeks the culprit who dared touch time, the next she, was in elation at being both accepted and healed by Jesus. What a change of circumstances!
Yes, this certain woman got her healing from Jesus and got a blessing or peace also. But because of for her public demonstration of faith, she got more than that! Look how she is recorded for all eternity:
First in v25, she is referred to as “a certain woman,”
next in v33, she is referred to as “the woman,”
and finally in v34 ,she is referred to as “Daughter.”
This unknown ‘certain woman,’ went from being a nobody, a complete and utter nonentity, to become an acknowledged ‘daughter’ of Jesus Christ, the son of God. Further, her story, or more accurately, the story of her incredible faith, has been recorded for all eternity in the very Word of God, the Word of a God who holds His Word, higher than His name (Psalm 138:2). For sure, this is one woman who made it to heaven!
What can we as Christian learn from this woman, this daughter of the risen Christ? We can learn that the gifts of God are there for the taking. When we reach out in faith, God will respond. God has given is His Word in the form of the Holy Bible, which is our answer to all our problems. He has given us the rules and guidelines for life and he simply adores those who stand on faith and reach out for what is rightfully theirs. God has granted us so many, many blessings; yet He requires us in faith, to reach out and take them. He says they are ours and free for the taking – yet most Christian at still sitting on their hands, waiting to be served. Since God has given us both the means and the tools and the written instruction as to how to obtain His blessings, he will not force them upon us.
We need to learn from this woman of faith and reach out to Jesus, just as she did. At the very real risk to her life, she reached out and was rewarded for her faith. Her Faith was what mattered! We need to do the same! We need to be active and enthusiastic searchers for the blessings of God in our lives, and through these blessings, become blessings for others . What we do not have, we cannot share, we cannot pass on! But what we are freely given, God expect to be freely passed on, so others can be blessed and share God’s bountiful mercies and grace.
Let is also learn and be inspired from the following Scripture which speak to Faith:
Mark 9:23 “Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’”
Mark 11:22-23 “And answering Jesus said to them, ‘Have faith of God. For truly I say to you that whoever shall say to this mountain, Be moved and be cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he said shall occur, he shall have whatever he said.’”
Matthew 17:20 “For truly I say to you, If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Move from here to there. And it shall move. And nothing shall be impossible to you.”
John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, He who believes on Me, the works that I do he shall do also, and greater works than these he shall do, because I go to My Father.”
James 5:14-15 “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will cure the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. And if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.”
Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Amen and Amen.
Dear Heavenly Father,
All praise and glory and honour be to You now and always.
Thank You, that You have recorded the story of this woman’s incredible faith.
Thank You for her testimony, which we know has been a blessing to countless generations of men, women and children, down the ages.
I pray Father, that You will now grant me Your gift of Faith; a supernatural faith beyond that which I could ever imagine, such that I may be able to forever lay aside the cares and thoughts of this world, and be focused on You and upon Your Kingdom alone.
Oh Lord, strengthen my faith and help me overcome my unbelief. I willingly lay down my will before You and ask you to lead me as You desire. Grant me Lord, the faith to follow Your Will and desires for me in all things, at all places, and at all times.
I pray in the mighty name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Saviour.
Amen and Amen and Amen.