If I can just get close enough (Mark 5:21-43)

Perhaps one of the most moving accounts in the Gospels is the story of the woman who had suffered for many years with an illness that caused frequent discharge of blood. It’s wrapped around by the healing of Jairus’ daughter.

This helps us to see a few things. First, we see Jesus’ willingness to be mocked for the sake of others. Side by side we see the disciples’ bemusement when Jesus asks “who touched me?” in the middle of a busy crowd (v31) with the mocking of the mourners who laugh at him when he says that the child is sleeping (v40).

Secondly, we see an important and significant person, desperate to get Jesus to his home but Jesus is willing to stop and take time for this woman. Remember that there was no need for him to pause. She had already been healed simply by her faith coming into contact with Jesus.

Here is this desperate woman, she’s tried everything. She’s been to every doctor going. They’ve happily allowed her to part with her money but they have been unable to help. I often think of this woman when I meet asylum seekers who have been treated terribly through the immigration system, often giving their money to lawyers, in the same way that she did to doctors and often with the same result, they are not helped.

She knows that Jesus is already headed somewhere else. He’s busy. Moreover, there is no doubt a level of shame because

her illness would have meant that she was considered unclean.  There, we have that issue again that comes up through the Gospel.  So, she hopes that if she can even get close enough for the slightest contact with Jesus then something might happen and it does, she is healed.

But, as we’ve seen throughout Mark, Jesus will not allow her to simply grab and run. She won’t experience healing somewhere, out of sight, unnoticed. Just as with the man with the crippled hand, Jesus draws her into the centre of things as he asks “Who touched me?”  She must come forward publicly and say that it is her.  There is to be no shame, no hiding away, everyone will get to see her faith and her healing. And so, she doesn’t just get healed at a distance, instead she comes face to face with Jesus, she hears his voice and he speaks faith, healing and restoration into her life.

Here is good news for you and me:

  • Are you tempted to believe that Jesus is too busy for you? Do you think that there are others, more important, more worthy than you? Well, hear his invitation to come to him and receive all that he offers.
  • Do you carry shame, embarrassment, guilt? Do you feel unclean, dirty, worthless, ugly, beyond hope? Well, discover in Jesus the one who takes away shame and allows no place for embarrassment. Jesus is the one who replaces our shame and guilt with faith and grace.

This woman went away different not just because she’d managed to find a way to catch something of Jesus’ power but because she had met with him. He had spoken to her and he had healed her, he had given her grace and life.

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