Jesus is more than some magical physician. He is the Christ, the one sent by God to restore and redeem us back to God’s steadfast love. This woman touch the cloak of Jesus, but her faith touched the very heart of Christ and she was healed.
a sermon on Mark 5:21-43
I’ve preached this story several different ways, but never from the perspective of the question “Who touched my clothes?” It’s a rather silly one, don’t you think? Even the disciples can’t believe what he’s asking. As the author of Mark points out everyone is pushing against each other to touch Jesus. Someone was bound to tug on his shirt.
To most of the people in this seaside village, Jesus was a healer. That’s why they press in on him. And why Jairus, a powerful religious leader in the community, begs Jesus to lay hands on his dying daughter. And why this unnamed woman would risk it all to simply brush her fingers against him.
If you’ve been with us for our Summer Series, “Questioning Jesus,” then you’ve probably figured out that asking questions are central to who Jesus is and what he taught.
There were practical questions, like “do you want to be healed?” And profound ones like, “Who do you say I am?” And then there are the piercing questions he asked his detractors to reveal their motives and disrupt their plots.
Today’s question seems comical in comparison to those. Read: Mark 5:21-43
She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”
This unnamed woman is one such person. Mark said she’d been suffering 12 years with a condition that most scholars agree had something to do with her mensural cycle. This is not my area of expertise but I do know this would stop her from having children. And the constant outpouring of blood would have made her too tired and weak to hold a job. This is important to know, because she’d spent all her money on painful and expensive treatments that only made matters worse.
Like that wasn’t bad enough, Jewish law had forbidden anyone from touching her, nor could she touch anyone without that person becoming unclean as well. If church gossip has taught me anything its that people in her community probably knew of her condition and avoided her at all cost. Her illness made it impossible to be physically, emotionally, or sexually intimate. She was as the Hindus would call, an untouchable.
She had no money, no companions, and no hope left. Jesus was not her first choice but her last resort when she pushed through the crowd, breaking rules and long-standing traditions to touch him...even if it made him unclean. She took her chance, and it paid off.
The second her fingers brushed against his clothes, she immediately felt the bleeding in her body stop. Jesus felt it too, and immediately he stops. Somebody just got healed. And Jesus wants us to know who.
Up until this point the disciples are still clueless to who Jesus really is. They’ve witnessed some amazing miracles – casting out demons, calming the stormy sea, and even a few healings here and there. But they have yet to figure out his real purpose for his calling them.
As we’ve been answering these questions, we’ve learned that Jesus is more than some magical physician. He is the Christ, the one sent by God to restore and redeem us back to God’s steadfast love. This woman touch the cloak of Jesus, but her faith touched the very heart of Christ and she was healed.
Despite Jairus’ best efforts to get him to move on, Jesus didn’t stop just restore this woman’s wellbeing. He could have done that while walking. I believe Jesus stopped because he wanted to let those who shunned her and cast her out from their community to know she was made new again. This woman’s soul, the very essence of who God made her to be, was once again restored. So too was the soul of her community.
You’ve seen those big crosses along the highways that read “Jesus Saves”? Well, that’s because that’s what Jesus does. He saves us. Not just so we can get our ticket punched heaven, but so we can be a part of heaven right here and right now. Jesus wants us to experience a God who repairs the damaged parts in our lives in such a way that we inadvertently become living witness to this good news.
But was it faith that saved this little girl… like it had with the woman? No! Nor did Jesus tell her father to have faith, but only to believe. Trust that God knows what God is doing.
Don’t get me wrong, faith is necessary to evolve your understanding and relationship with God. Paul opens his letter to the Romans telling us it is by faith that the righteousness of God is revealed (Rom. 1:16-17).
I believe this is true. Faith plays a major role in who we are and who God is in our lives. And I believe Jesus wants us to live in faith so that we can be present with him where he is. But like I said, there’s more to faith than simply grabbing that golden ticket to heaven. You have to believe it and live it accordingly.
Jesus made it very clear that Heaven has come down to us, right here and right now. Through Christ, God repairs the damage we’ve caused so that we can fully enjoy a foretaste of what is to come. Jesus began his ministry declaring the Kingdom of God is here. This begs the question, “Where is that kingdom present in your life today?”
In a recent blog post for Pathos, Paul Bane wrote, “Heaven comes every time we love our brothers and sisters. Heaven comes when we are at peace with our circumstances in life. And Heaven comes every moment we dwell in the presence of God.” Let’s take the liberty to replace the word “heaven” with the word “healing.” So it reads, healing comes every time we love someone… or healing comes every moment we dwell in the presence of God.
Every time we do what Jesus calls us to do, we touch the very heart of Christ and are healed. I believe this is true for the faithful as well as those who question their faith. Because every time you make sandwiches or pack the grocery boxes at the food bank, you touch the heart of Christ and are healed.
Every time you give a cold glass of water to hot and tired stranger, or a sweaty little kid, you touch the heart of Christ and are healed.
Every time you spend your day off visiting your elderly neighbors, or volunteering at an animal shelter, you touch the heart of Christ and are healed.
Every time you kiss a skinned knee, or hold a crying baby for a tired mother, or stand up for someone who is being bullied, marginalized or cast out from their family because of who God made them to be…you touch the heart of Christ and are healed.
Every time you see and do what Jesus does, not only are you learning and teaching others to do the same but you are also touching the heart of Christ and are healed. For it was Jesus who said, “Whenever you do these things to the least of these, you do also to me” (Mt. 25:40).
If you say you are a follower of Jesus, then you must never forget that you represent this side of heaven…and the compassion you show to others has the power to be the healing balm God uses to redeem and restore our families, our communities and our world…today and in the age to come.
Whenever you hear Jesus ask, “Who touched me?” I hope you will raise you hands high, and say…”It was me Lord!” And you will be made well.