“If I Just Reach out to Him . . .”

A large crowd followed and pressed around [Jesus]. 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. 27 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?” (Mark 5:24-30)

Today’s Word comes from the encounter between Jesus and a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve miserable years. Mark’s description of her affliction indicates that her condition was incurable, which could have lead to utter hopelessness . . . but not for this woman of great faith!

It’s important to understand that her condition of bleeding would have created severe consequences in her life. You see that she had spent all the money she had on doctors in hopes of finding a cure, a cure which never came. She was penniless. Second, she would have been living her life as a social outcast, excluded from worshiping with the people of God because her bleeding condition made her as unclean as she was unwelcome. She knew when she approached the Messiah that she should not have been in such a crowded place or approaching the young rabbi from Nazareth. Anyone she touched would also be considered unclean . . . except, of course, when she touched Jesus, whose redeeming touch makes the unclean eternally clean.

Notice the woman’s thought process: “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” For twelve years the medical “experts” had done nothing for her except take her money, yet she refused to fill her mind with unbelief and self-pity. Rather, she spoke truth to her soul; today we might say she “preached the Gospel to herself,” assuring herself that in Jesus alone she would find forgiveness and healing. And when she reached out in faith for the hem of Jesus’ garment, she was healed instantly. The woman demonstrated steadfast hope in the midst of her otherwise hopeless condition.

Obviously, this woman knew she was an outcast, and she approached Jesus from behind so as not to be seen by anyone. So why did Jesus call her out? Did He who is God in the flesh really not know who had touched Him? Of course not! I believe there are two reasons. First, Jesus confirmed her healing publicly. In effect, He pronounced her “clean.” Second, He confirmed her faith and how she had acted upon her faith. The people would have known her hopeless condition, so Jesus made it a point to let the watching world know that this woman had faith enough to reach out to Him for healing, “Daughter,” He said kindly, “your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34). Not only did Her faith lead her to a physical healing, but emotional and spiritual renewal as well. In this account we see a total and complete expression of our Savior’s peace (shalom) bestowed on this woman because of His love and care for her.

The same hope that this woman clung to is there for you today. Where in your life are you in need? Have you reached out to Jesus in faith, expecting Him to meet you in your deepest place of need? The story of this woman is in the Scriptures offers you and me great hope, even in seemingly hopeless situations, because when you reach for Jesus, you are reaching for a Living Hope that cannot and will not disappoint.   

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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