Take a moment to read the story of the woman with the issue of blood in its context, found in Mark 5:21-43. What do you notice? 

Caring for the ‘Untouchables’

Though all Christians are called to care for those who cannot care for themselves—the poor, the destitute, the sick, the widows and orphans—it is often a challenge to consider those whom society calls, ‘the untouchables.’ The homeless man filthy and battered from years on the street, the dying AIDS patient uncomfortable in their bed, the disfigured or broken, you get the idea.  

Yet we come to a story now where Jesus not only touches the untouchable but stops everything in a crowd to restore a woman who’d been alienated and avoided for 12 years. The story of this nameless woman wandering the streets, hunting for a cure from her wretched condition and searching for any relief, is hard to imagine. No physician could heal her. Though she’d spent all she’d had to get better, she only grew worse. Even Luke, who was also a physician, admitted in 8:43 that doctors could not help her.  

Desperate Faith

When she heard that a popular young Rabbi was passing through, she thought he might know how to help. Against cultural mores of the time, she pressed her weary body against the odds of a crowded street, hoping for even a brush against the man’s robe. It was a desperate and bleak situation. But what happened next was also a striking reminder that the King of Kings came to earth to restore beauty, health and dignity to those brave enough to come close when he passed by. And it is his presence still that provides the means to do just that. 

the King of Kings came to earth to restore beauty, health and dignity to those brave enough to come close

Unlike the crippled woman in the synagogue whom Christ did touch, there is no record in the Gospels of his reaching out his hand and pressing it against this woman’s forehead. Yet, we can be sure of this one thing: He touched a really tired, really sick woman on a really busy street while he was on his way to help a sick little girl.  

Love On the Margins

The scene took place in his second year of ministry, referred to as his ‘year of popularity,’ just after Jesus left the eastern region of the Sea of Galilee where he’d been ministering to all kinds of people in all kinds of ways. All the while, he was making enemies who were threatened by his power and love.  

When he stopped and asked, who touched me, she must have waited for public judgment. Instead, she was greeted with enormous affirmation: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” She was healed, restored to the ‘family’ of God and freed from suffering.  

Her healing was not merely physical, it was relational, spiritual, emotional and cultural. Because Jesus, the God of Wholeness, desires fullness of life for each of us. He confirmed that when he took on the suffering of all mankind on the cross so that we might know wholeness and freedom with him!  

Reflection: 

  1. Those whose bodies are battered and ‘untouchable’ too often live on the margins of our culture. Take a moment now to consider those who care for them and pray for their strength and compassion. Is God calling you to such ministry? 
  2. How do you think the woman might have felt when Jesus said, “Who touched me?” How do you think she felt when he called her, “Daughter”? 
  3. What new insights about Jesus does this story inspire for you? 

Prayer: God of compassion, we know there are women around the world who have been alienated in poverty and sickness. Please be near them and use your people to touch them with your love. Amen. 

Sign up now to receive the full eight day Jesus on the Margins Devotional Series.