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For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”Mark 5:27-28
Miserable, desperate, drained of energy and money, this woman was ready to try something, anything, that might give her the cure she’d found nowhere else. Certainly, the doctors she’d seen had only taken from her, and given nothing but suffering in return.
Theologian and scholar Adam Clarke gives us a picture of the kinds of treatments this woman endured at the direction of her physician(s): “Rabbi Jochanan says: ‘Take of gum Alexandria, of alum, and of corcus hortensis, the weight of a zuzee each; let them be bruised together, and given in wine to the woman that hath an issue of blood. But if this fail, Take of Persian onions nine logs, boil them in wine, and give it to her to drink: and say, Arise from thy flux. But should this fail, Set her in a place where two ways meet, and let her hold a cup of wine in her hand; and let somebody come behind and affright her, and say, Arise from thy flux. But should this do no good…’”
I’m guessing the end of that sentence continued with “… take one eye of newt and the toe of a frog, blend well, drink, and throw some salt over your shoulder.” Or something equally reasonable.
Can you imagine? So now, in addition to the fear, isolation and humiliation the woman felt, we must add frustration. She had tried everything.
But then she caught talk of the Healer. He was coming, and with Him, hope. She followed the crowd, swallowed her fear, and did the one and only thing she … we … can do to save ourselves: she reached out to Jesus.
This is the very definition of hutzpah. She had the brazen audacity to break Jewish law—which forbade her to spread her uncleanness to anyone else, to the point where she was more than likely forced to divorce her husband and leave her family—and touch the Almighty. But instead of making Him unclean, it brought her healing. She felt it immediately.
It’s clear she hoped to just sneak up to Him, steal a cure, and sneak away again. But it’s not possible to steal a cure from the Lord. And Jesus wouldn’t let her slink away with a misconception that somehow, the magical hem of God had cured her while He wasn’t looking. Jesus turned and asked the toucher to present herself. (So much for a secret getaway.) She confessed, and the Word tells us, “She told Him the whole truth.” We can’t miss that point. She didn’t candycoat her actions. She didn’t pretend the crowd had bumped her and she just happened to accidentally touch His hem. She didn’t minimize her issue. And we can’t either. If we want to be wholly healed, we must be wholly truthful with God.
If you’re like me, this scene causes you to cringe a little. That’s because most of us don’t like confrontation, and we don’t like to see people squirm. Why did He have to call her out? As Robert Morrison points out, the actions of Jesus could seem unnecessary and unkind:
“It seemed cruel, but it was really kind. It sent her home with loftier thoughts of Him. She would never talk of the wonder of the tassel; she would always talk of the wonder of the Lord. Permitted to walk away without confession, she would have said exultantly, ‘I’ve found a cure.’ Now the woman cried, ‘I’ve found a friend.’”Robert Morrison
“She would never talk of the wonder of the tassel; she would always talk of the wonder of the Lord.”
May we do the same. May the wonder of the Lord be always on our lips, and may we never mistake the tassel for the tassel-Wearer.