Mark 4:24b-34: Touching Jesus.

“24 So Jesus went with him.  A large crowd followed and pressed round him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 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. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.’ 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.  30 At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from him. He turned round in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’31 ‘You see the people crowding against you,’ his disciples answered, ‘and yet you can ask, “Who touched me?”’  32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’” NIV UK

‘’What Mark has done is to place one tale inside the other, in what is sometimes called a Markan sandwich…The flavour of the outer story adds zest to the inner one; the taste of the inner one is meant in turn to permeate the outer one…Both stories are about fear and faith, and the power of Jesus to take people from one to the other.’’ Tom Wright: ‘Mark for everyone,’pp.58,59.  The ‘inner’ story adds suspense to the ‘outer’ one. What will happen to the desperately sick child?  We who are familiar with the gospels know, of course. Yet we are still aware of the tension in the story. The air is thick with it.

The anonymous ‘’woman’’ (25) – who, it seems, wanted to remain anonymous – had suffered from her condition ‘’for twelve years.’’ This was the same length as Jairus’ daughter’s life to this point (42). Neither females in the intertwining stories are named, but they were important. They mattered to Jesus. We still are ignorant of their names, but in the purposes of God they have become famous. Any woman with such a disease was regarded as unclean by the Jews (Leviticus 15:25). This would explain her furtive approach. However, Jesus would not allow her to remain a ‘private’ patient (32-34). This was not to embarrass her, but to help her. It’s important that we go public with our faith in Jesus.

It’s interesting that in Luke’s version (Luke 8:43), the slightly disparaging remark about doctors is omitted! The woman wasn’t dying, but her condition was also desperate.  With regard to (30,31) Tom Wright comments that it would be like someone in a rugby scrum asking who touched them!!  Maybe her belief about touching Jesus’s clothes was superstitious. Nevertheless, it was an expression of real faith (34). It was real power going out from Jesus that brought the healing and ended the suffering (29, 30). Nevertheless, her faith was the key to experiencing the power. ‘‘The healing power wasn’t in Jesus’ clothes; it was in Him…The woman was healed not by the contact with Jesus’ clothes, as if by magic; rather, she was healed by Jesus’ power working through her faith…Many people crowd around Jesus but receive no blessing or benefit. Only those who accept Jesus as Lord and put their faith in Him in a personal way can be healed and saved…Faith alone, without Jesus, is blind faith. On the other hand, without our faith Jesus cannot help us. Both Jesus’ power and our faith working together are necessary for us to be healed and saved.’’ Tom Hale: ‘The applied New Testament Commentary,’ p.232.

 

PRAYER: Lord, increase our faith.