Matthew 9:18-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48
Here Jesus is on his way to pray for the ruler of the synagogue, Jairus’ daughter. Jairus had prostrated himself before Jesus and begged Him earnestly, saying his daughter was dying and if Jesus would come and lay hands on her she would be healed and live, Mark 5:23. This very urgent request does not stop Jesus responding to another need. Since women were not considered as important as men, others may have found it strange that Jesus would consider the plight of this woman, over the task that He was going to do. This must have been tough for Jairus as it looked as if Jesus didn’t understand his own desperate need, and the requirement to be quick! How often do we respond in a frantic way; we have prayed, others seem to be getting answers but it looks as if Jesus has forgotten about us, and the enemy whispers ‘He doesn’t care!’ Jairus servants come to give him the dreaded news ‘Your daughter is dead!’ These words were ignored by Jesus and He gave the most fantastic word of encouragement, ‘Don’t be afraid, just believe’, Mark 5:36. When we feel Jesus is being slow we need to take this promise and hold on, speak it, praise Him for it and believe! God wants to use all situations for our good and His Glory.
Again we are introduced to a woman with no name. She is known for having an issue of blood, what a reputation to live with. None of us like our personal problems to be known by so many. She must have felt so ashamed as she was unable to go out as she was seen as being unclean by all the neighbours. As long as she suffers this blood flow she shall be unclean, just as during her menstrual period. Leviticus 15:19-33, states the rules very clearly. When a woman is afflicted with a flow of blood for several days during her menstrual period, or when her flow continues beyond the ordinary period there were very strict rules to be followed by herself and everyone else who was around her. According to the law, women were not allowed to touch anyone or anything while they were considered unclean, because whatever she touched became unclean. She was not allowed to share in the annual worship celebrations that were considered important in Judaism. She was not allowed to go into the temple courts, she could not light the candles for the Sabbath evening nor could she participate in the Passover meal. It was as if she was non-existent in her own world.
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 Msg, which reads, ‘If a man marries a woman and then it happens that he no longer likes her because he has found something wrong with her, he may give her divorce papers, put them in her hand, and send her off’. It could easily have happened that her husband had divorced her because of her condition, and if she married again that husband could divorce her again but that would be an abomination in the Presence of God. What a life, no life! Little hope! Were there any family members that she could turn to for support? Were there means for her to keep clean during this time? What was the environment like that she lived in? She had lived without the affection of a husband for twelve years. There was no hugging, no touching and no sexual relationship. She had lost everyone and everything, for a condition that she had no control over, she must have felt totally alone and abandoned. How long would her husband have waited on her to be healed to resume marital relations? What if she had given birth to a child prior to that, she could not hold that child, not care for that child, nor cuddle that child until this time. Imagine being her child and not being able to experience the love of its mother all this time. Her body must have been so weak with constant bleeding, often she must have felt as if she was just dragging herself around, rather than living the abundant life.
The last resort!
For years she went to the doctors, not getting any better, only worse. For years, she paid money trying to find a cure for this personal illness, this infirmity that she was plagued with. This is a story of terrible desperation and affliction where Jesus was the only hope. Women of today who suffer with prolonged periods, have the option of having it surgically corrected, or trust Jesus for healing. At least the law of the Old Testament does not make us outcasts if we suffer in this way.
It is common with people not to run to Jesus till they have tried all other helpers, and find them of no value. This is the end of the road a desperate place to be, but just where Jesus loves to meet us.
We need to understand God is behind all the power of our prayer, He is the origin of everything, Genesis 1:1. He is the source of all our needs being met, when we are in a seemingly impossible situation. He is our hope when there seems to be no hope. As a last resort, she approached Jesus for healing. She determined in her heart she would seek Jesus out, whatever it took. She declared her faith confession, ‘If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed’, Matthew 9:21. She kept saying to herself, if I could only just touch the hem of His garment. She kept telling herself that she knew what man said, and she knew the law, but she also kept saying in her spirit that Jesus would change all of that. We have looked at many women who declared by faith what was going to happen to them when God responded. Check out this reminder of the words that are coming out of our mouth, ‘life or death’. A commentator makes the point that the Talit (Prayer Shawl) contains 614 Tzizit (Fringes) 613 for the Laws and One particular long Blue stain (By Sea Snail Ink) for the Messiah. It is likely she may have touched the Blue Messiah tzizit in recognition of Jesus being the fulfilment of the promised Messiah. It was then her faith in the recognition of Who He was that healed her.
When she made it through the crowd, she reached out and she touched the hem of His garment, neither Him nor His sleeve or shoulder because she wanted to protect Jesus. No way would she have wanted to touch His body and so make Him unclean as that would have been very difficult for Jesus. By the time she had pushed and been shoved by the crowd, bearing in mind how weak she must have felt, she was probably already on the ground, so to reach His hem was more accessible. She was maybe trying to protect herself from being seen although she was just desperate to get her healing, and maybe she was just past caring who saw her.
This has to be our attitude as we come to Jesus in desperation with whatever our problem. We have tried all the worldly answers, asked all our family and friends but with no positive result. Maybe we should pray about it! Why do we take so long to come to our Heavenly Father to ask for His direction and help? This has got to be rooted in unbelief, uncertainty that God loves us unconditionally and faith in His power to sort our situation. We can understand why He would answer the prayers of others but not ourselves. As we choose to meditate some verses on God’s Love and allow them to grow in our hearts, then we will call on Him in our trouble, not as a last resort, Joshua 1:8-9; Psalm 37:3; Psalm 107:8-9; Hebrews 13:5-6.
Never give up!
‘And immediately her flow of blood was dried up at the source, and [suddenly] she felt in her body that she was healed of her [distressing] ailment’. Mark 5:29 Amp. Imagine what that ‘immediately’ meant to her. But suddenly she was the centre of attention; would she answer Jesus or run? He stopped and said, “Who touched me?” His disciples told Him that it was the crowd pressing against Him. He knew the power of God had poured out of Him. Many people must have touched Him that day but there was only one ‘touch of faith’. He turned around and kept looking until He saw this woman, fearful, yet bold, who needed Him. All secret acts of sin and also secret acts of faith are known to the Lord Jesus Christ. She needed to step out of her comfort zone and respond with great courage and strength. The woman told her whole story. She knew that open confession is the only way with Jesus. She was not going to let men, nor their laws, stand in her way.
Jesus pressed her to testify of her healing, and then spoke a blessing of wholeness to her. ‘And He said to her, Daughter, your faith (your trust and confidence in Me, springing from faith in God) has restored you to health. Go in (into) peace and be continually healed and freed from your [distressing bodily] disease’. Mark 5:34 Amp. What a beautiful way Jesus has of dealing with us, and showing He understands such a personal complaint. Jesus listened to her then said ‘Daughter’, what a wonderful name of love and acceptance, the same that He speaks over all of us today; she was restored physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is the will of Jesus Christ that His people should be comforted, and He has power to command comfort to our troubled spirits and healing to our sick bodies. The more simply we depend on Him, and expect great things from Him, the more we shall find ourselves being transformed into His likeness. If God has rescued us from any disastrous circumstances or from any sin, we should testify for the benefit of those around about us. Our lives are the only “Bible” that some of our friends and family will ever read.
Why didn’t she give up?
This amazing woman has so much to teach us how to walk in faith and never give up. She had confidence in her position as a daughter of Abraham – Jesus commended her for this. We need to know our position of who we are in Jesus Christ. Confidence in ourselves is not what we need but increasing confidence in Him. Then our faith will grow to depend on Jesus for all our needs.
She was very determined as she set out to find Him and then push through the crowd. She would not quit. There must have been many times her thoughts were racing; who will see me? I can’t push through this crowd I am too weak! What if anyone finds out what my problem is?
She had a commitment to see her healing through whatever it cost. She must have heard of other miracles Jesus performed and be totally focused on a good outcome for her desperation. We need her level of commitment and determination to keep going in the Christian life and all that God has got for us to complete before He takes us home. There are so many obstacles for us today just as there was for her, shame, guilt, why me? condemnation, anger, depression. All of these she battled with and overcame in the power of the Name of Jesus alone, just as we can. She probably lost all she ever had, but because of her faithfulness and love for the Lord, when God blessed her, He gave her everything back, because what is not possible with men is possible with God.
This woman has to be a very personal challenge today to our attitude to the outcasts or the ‘unclean’ in our society. Jesus states that ‘pride’ is top of His list of deadly sins and is a real abomination to Him. Do we have the same heart as God towards sin or do we grade certain sins to be worse or even unforgiveable? We need to cry out to God for Him to ‘create in me a pure heart Oh God and renew a right spirit within me’, Psalm 51:10. We cannot afford to sacrifice our fellowship with the Living God by judging one of His children, by looking at others lifestyle from our position of strength, Matthew 7:3. Jesus response to her is not of rebuke and correction, rather He comforts her and tells her that her faith has made her whole and tells her to go in peace. This faith she had was placed in the person of Jesus. Matthew 14:35-36 says, “…People brought all their sick to Him and begged Him to let the sick just touch the edge of His cloak, and all who touched Him were healed.”
Can we honestly say that we have the same attitude as the people round Jesus? Are we so desperate for anyone in the street or who comes into church to meet Jesus that we never consider that they need to clean up their lifestyle or behaviour before we speak to them about the only one who can make them whole?
Check out the short film of Naomi Zacharias on You Tube about her work with prostitution and trafficking across the world. It is especially challenging about the attitude of churches to ‘outcasts’.
No.29 The woman with the issue of blood – the rejected restored! Challenge Questions
Read all the notes about the Woman with the issue of blood – the rejected restored
- What spoke to you in the notes? What do you think was this lady’s lifestyle after her healing?
2. What situation do you need to take this word as a promise ‘Don’t be afraid, just believe’, Mark 5:36.
3. Name some of the obstacles that would cause you to give up your close walk with Jesus?
4. How do you behave towards those in society who are different from you, or have an alternative lifestyle? How do you think the Church should be?
Read Mark 15:40-47; Mark 16:1-14; John 19:25; John 20:11-18; Matthew 27:56; Matthew 27:61; Matthew 28:1-10.
5. According to Mark who did Jesus appear to first and what had He done for her? What do you think she was like before she met Jesus? (Also Luke 8:2)
6. According to John 20:11-18 what was the detail of Mary Magdalene’s meeting with Jesus?
7. Who did she tell about all that she had seen and what was their reaction? Why do you think they reacted like this?
8. What changed the apostles’ mind?
9. Are there any references in the Bible to Mary Magdalene being a prostitute?
10. From the verses in red at the start of the study of Mary Magdalene what do you discern about her lifestyle?
11. What about her relationship with Jesus?
12. Did her demonic possession affect her character and personality? What do you think was the result of the deliverance ministry she received from Jesus in her behaviour and relationships?
13. As a disciple of Jesus Christ what do you think her main work was?
14. Where was Mary Magdalene present at the end of Jesus’ earthly life? How do you think she must have felt as she watched Him suffer?
15. How do you think that Mary felt when Jesus used her name? Read Isaiah 43:1 and meditate on this verse and see what fantastic change God can bring about in your own heart.
16. Can you sum up what a woman who is devoted to Jesus can do for Him? Is that true today?
17. Sum up in one sentence what Jesus can do for any woman who turns their life over to Him?