A large group of people followed. They crowded around him. A woman was there who had a sickness that made her bleed. It had lasted for 12 years. She had suffered a great deal, even though she had gone to many doctors. She had spent all the money she had. But she was getting worse, not better. Then she heard about Jesus. She came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothes. She thought, “I just need to touch his clothes. Then I will be healed.” Right away her bleeding stopped. She felt in her body that her suffering was over. At once Jesus knew that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd. He asked, “Who touched my clothes?” “You see the people,” his disciples answered. “They are crowding against you. And you still ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” But Jesus kept looking around. He wanted to see who had touched him. Then the woman came and fell at his feet. She knew what had happened to her. She was shaking with fear. But she told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Dear woman, your faith has healed you. Go in peace. You are free from your suffering.”
Mark 5:24(b)-34 (New International Readers Version)
She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted…
Two millennia before Senator Elizabeth Warren came on the scene, there was a persistent woman whose brave act of faith put her in the Bible.
In today’s Scripture, we see Jesus en-route to the home of Jairus, whose daughter was dying. As Jesus was walking, a crowd of people gathered around him and his disciples-following them. In this crowd we’re introduced to a very interesting individual…
The individual referred to above was a woman, but not just any woman. You see, this unnamed woman had some kind of blood disorder for 12 years. What blood disorder we’re never told since we’re referring to ancient texts. We don’t know if the woman had dysfunctional uterine bleeding, some clotting disorder that prevented the woman’s system from natural self-healing, we don’t know. However, we’re told that the woman had it for 12 years, which amazes me that anyone-especially in Jesus’s time-would have survived. Plus, this woman spent all she had on doctors that did not have the old-time sophistication of Ancient Egypt. By the time of Jesus’s story she was still sick and was broke. And to add insult to injury, her condition grew worse.
All the above would’ve been bad enough, however in the woman’s day the prevailing order made things worse for her. In the arcane Mosaic law, the woman was declared unclean: no God-fearing Jew-not even her family-could come in contact with her. The religious authorities-all men of course-warned her about her situation; and she was banned from the Temple due to her condition. As we would say today, “She was warned. She was given an explanation.”
Now we see what could have been once a lovely lady reduced to a bandaged, starving, dirty, homeless woman who held onto every scrap of hope she could have. In the Scripture, the woman hears about Jesus’s passing by and recalls stories she probably heard about his healing power. Despite her condition, the woman could sense that Jesus was more than he appeared to be and thought that even touching just the hem of his clothes would heal her.
So our intrepid woman took what was the biggest chance in her life and made her way though the crowd. I say “intrepid” because if anyone caught her in the crowd it would have been insane. People would have been ceremoniously unclean and could have tried to kill her for “contaminating” them. As the woman walked, she saw her quarry-Jesus and focused on the hem of his garment. Quickly and carefully, the woman navigates herself through the crowd…comes up to Jesus and touches the hem of his garment. According to the Scripture, the woman was completely healed. As we would say, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”
However, the woman’s persistence was unique. You see, she took virtue out of Jesus-his divine power. When Jesus did the healing, he was the administrator of his power-determining its use. However, the woman was the administrator; probably gave Jesus his “WTF?” moment, for he asked who touched him due to his power flowing from him. Of course, his disciples looked at him as if he were stupid; they told him about the pressing of the crowd and why his question. Nevertheless, he persisted in his questioning as he looked about.
Eventually, the woman came before Jesus and fell at his feet. You see, the woman knew what happened; and with Jesus’s persistent questioning knew she was probably busted. Here, we see the woman’s bravery as she fessed up to Jesus. Even though she was healed, under Jewish law she did commit two transgressions. First, the woman touched a rabbi whilst still sick. Second, even if her sickness was not held against her, the woman touched a man that was not her husband. However, the woman took a risk and told all.
However, Jesus’s reply was touching: “Dear woman, your faith has healed you. Go in peace. You are free from your suffering.” In one phrase, Jesus liberated the woman from whatever fears, shame, etc she might have had. Jesus also complimented the woman’s persistence (her faith) in seeking healing when she could have given up. And Jesus bade her peace for her to enjoy the rest of her days. Now the woman can return to society, to the Temple, and all that she missed for 12 years.
Nevertheless, she persisted. Although this is not yet Women’s History Month, I felt it necessary to post now. This can also apply to our current Black History Month-especially coming from a Black man-reflecting our faith in pressing through the injustices heaped against us. This can apply to the Native Americans who currently fight for the protection of their lands from greedy energy developers. This can apply to anyone “sick” from the injustices of the world, who persisted despite all the “warnings” and “explanations” fired at them.
The woman in tonight’s Scripture is an example for us all-male and female. May we follow her lead.