It has been a wonderful Saturday and I have been most blessed to spend it working on translating Mark 5. The part that stuck out most vividly in this passage (though the whole chapter is incredibly rich) is the woman who touches Jesus’ garment to be healed. Mark beautifully illustrates how this desperate woman who had suffered for twelve years from a disease that made here ceremonially unclean (and consequently an outcast) forced her way through a smothering crowd to touch Jesus. The author even gives us more background information about the woman: that she had spent all her money and had “suffered” under many doctors. She was absolutely desperate.
Some notable things struck me as I worked my way through this story. This woman had seen so many doctors and I am sure she had tried every numerous painful procedure to cure her of a disease that had caused her so much grief (physical, social, economical). Yet, in spite of countless failures spanning over twelve years she still clung to hope. Her last hope was in touching Jesus.
This woman was also unclean and therefore anything or anyone that she touched would also become unclean. The disease made her a social outcast and she could get into major trouble for touching anyone especially a respectable teacher like Jesus. Still, she risked it because she had nothing else to lose.
To pause on this point, I find this woman’s boldness, even desperation, refreshing. I remember having a conversation with a translator in Ukraine. I had been sharing the Gospel with him and though he wanted to follow Christ he said that he needed to become pure before he could make that decision. The truth is only Christ can make us pure. It is a fallacy to believe that we can be righteous or good in our own strength. We must go to the Savior.
This last point I found so amazing. The woman believed that if she could only touch Jesus’ garment she would be healed. As she touches His garment, not only is she instantly healed but Jesus feels the power leave Him. The very act of touching Jesus would have made Him ceremonially unclean and because Jesus is looking for the woman, she is literally trembling from fear. The woman confesses what happened but Jesus in His most loving way comforts her by calling her “daughter”.
In essence a transaction took place in the event. The unclean woman gave Jesus her impurity (ceremonially) and Jesus gave the woman His power to be healed. This story points to the reality of what happened at the cross where Christ took our sins and gave us His righteousness. How beautiful that we can come in all our impurity and Jesus not only takes it upon Himself but gives us His power and His righteousness (1 Corinthians 5:21).
Lastly, I find it interesting that Jesus was surrounded by so many people that when He asked “Who touched my garment” the disciples more or less mock Him for asking such a question. Yet, among all those in this huge crowd smothering, touching, pressing in on Jesus, there was only one person who was allowed to experience the power of Christ. It was the person who placed her faith in the One is able to heal, to purify, and to save.