The Bleeding Woman

Part two of Jairus’ story from Mark 5:21-43.

While Jesus is on the way to Jairus’ house to heal his dying daughter, there’s an interruption, a delay, another needy person.

Someone comes up behind Jesus and touches him. He turns around, scans the crowd, and waits for someone to come forward. Those who tell her story don’t give her a name. She’s simply referred to as the bleeding woman—a very sad title.

What are we told about her?
• She has some type of bleeding condition (we assume menstrual bleeding)
• She has suffered for twelve years under the care of many doctors. If you’ve ever been to a string of doctors you know how discouraging this can be. Try this, now try this. Get this test, then another. $1000 here, $1000 there. But there will be no more doctors, no more prescriptions, no more tests, because
• There’s no more money. She has depleted all her resources trying to find a cure.
• Her condition is not getting better—it’s getting worse.

The implications of her illness are equally discouraging:
• Under Mosaic Law a person is ritually unclean if they are bleeding, and if anyone comes in contact with someone bleeding, they’re unclean until evening (Lev15:19-33). No wonder no doctor stuck with her, what doctor wants to examine her and become unclean?
• No one wants to be around her. No one will want to marry her. This forces her to live in isolation, detached from society. She doesn’t have a normal life with normal relationships.
• She can’t go to the synagogue for worship, fellowship, or to hear the Scriptures read.

So which is worse, the pain and discomfort of her illness? Or, the loneliness it brings? Both are unbearable. Her situation seems hopeless.

Somewhere, somehow, she hears about Jesus and it arouses her faith. Despite living under the cultural pressure to stay away, she seeks Jesus out. She too is desperate. But she’s not bold like Jairus was. She’s timid. She doesn’t want to call attention to herself, expose her condition, or embarrass Jesus by causing him to be unclean in front of a big crowd.

But she’s compelled by her belief that in Jesus there is something divine.

She thinks to herself, “if I can just touch him I will be healed.” Perhaps there’s a little superstition mixed in with her faith, but this does not disqualify her. Perfect faith is not required. Neither is perfect doctrine.

She has enough faith to approach Jesus and be healed. She works her way through the crowd, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. She comes up behind Jesus, and touches his clothes.

That very instant she can feel in her body that her bleeding has stopped. She hopes to slip away unnoticed, but Jesus won’t let that happen. He has much more for her than physical healing.

Jesus realizes that someone has touched him and that healing power has touched them. He asks, “Who touched my clothes?” not because he doesn’t know, but in order to draw her out of the crowd.

She’s busted, and she knows it.

Why does she have to tell everyone about her embarrassing condition? This could be the most humiliating moment of her life. It is a test of her faith.

Feeling the stare of the crowd, she comes forward trembling and falls down in front of Jesus. According to Luke’s account, she tells why she came and how she was instantly healed. Perhaps something like these words, “I’ve been bleeding for twelve years and no doctor could help me. I heard about a man named Jesus. I came here today so I could touch him. He is the hope I was looking for—I am healed.”

Jesus responds to her testimony,
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Those words are packed with meaning:
• She was not healed by touching Jesus’ coat—there’s no magic here. She was healed because she believed in Jesus.
• Her faith in action not only heals her, but saves her. The Greek word healed also means saved. She came for healing in her body. She received healing in her soul.

• By calling her DAUGHTER, Jesus signifies her new relationship with him—he includes her in his family. This declaration was for her, but also for the large crowd gathered. This is what it takes to be in Jesus’ family—believe, in Jesus—nothing more, nothing less.

• This is the only place in the NT where Jesus calls someone daughter. She goes from “the bleeding woman” to daughter of Jesus.

• He dismisses her with “Go in peace, and be freed from your suffering.” After twelve long years, her season of suffering is over.

Like Jairus, and like all of us, the bleeding woman has a mixture of faith and fear. When Jesus calls her out of the crowd she comes forward in spite of her fear.

She receives more than she ever hoped for. She came for healing. She left as a member of God’s family.

Why do you hesitate to come to Jesus with legitimate needs? What are the fears that hold you back? What truth compels you to keep coming?

2 comments to The Bleeding Woman

  • Beverly Schlomann

    My hesitation in coming to Jesus with legitimate needs is often that I don’t want to sound “whiny and complainy” . . .which is odd to say when I think of the amount of time in the psalms when David begs God to hear his cries and answer his pleas. . .
    But what compels me to keep coming, to be willing to sort out the legitimate request from the petulant whining. . .is the knowledge that I NEED God to live out this assignment. Like the bleeding woman, it is desperation that drives me out of my pride and delusion of self-sufficiency.
    This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. . . (Yes, I am still plodding through Psalm 119)