He’ll Heal Your Uncleanness | Mark 5:24b–34
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
One can only imagine the suffering this woman endured. While the exact nature of her illness is a mystery, many commentaries agree that she had some sort of a uterine discharge. Such an ongoing hemorrhage would have ill effects on her health, not to mention the social stigma and personal disgust she suffered as she invested every penny in search for a cure. However, the treatments that the physicians suggested not only failed to help, but made the matter worse (v. 26), whatever that might mean.
She would be considered perpetually unclean in the Old Covenant community (cf. Lv 15:19–33). Such a mark would have set her apart like a leper, part of her ongoing suffering. She would not have been able to participate in worship or daily life in Israel. Yet, she hears about Jesus (v. 27), and she comes to Him.
She comes in fear and faith. There may be several reasons why she’s fearful—since she was unclean, perhaps she feared the crowd approaching her, or perhaps she even feared meeting Jesus face-to-face (see v. 33). Even so, In Matthew 9:20, we read that she seeks to touch the fringe of His garment, probably the tassels (see Nm 15:38–40; Dt 22:12). This isn’t because she superstitiously believed that His clothes must have a magical quality to them; she knows He has the power to heal, and she was healed in that very moment..
He responds with control and care. It’s likely based on vv. 29–30 that Jesus and the woman simultaneously knew that the healing occurred. He knew someone had touched His garment in this crowd in faith, so He stops the crowd and begins looking back and forth.
Even in a crowd, Jesus can perceive the touch of an individual. To those coming to Him suffering for years with the unclean discharge of sinfulness, He says the same thing that He spoke to the woman: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed.” Know the comfort of these gospel words!