After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.
I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at
Jesus Heals a Woman in the Crowd
And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.
And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. 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. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
I gotta ask your opinion. This miracle happens after the stilling of the storm and the healing of the demoniac. How do you think the disciples felt about returning to Capernaum by crossing the Sea of Galilee with the Master?
One additional topic under the general observations heading is to consider what disease she was healed of and the impact on her life. The Word states that this woman “suffered a discharge of blood for twelve years”.
In today’s understanding of this condition, some think it may have been uterine fibroids, which cause bleeding. If this is the condition this poor woman was suffering under, physical symptoms may have included heavy menstrual bleeding, menstrual periods lasting more than a week, pelvic pressure or pain, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder, constipation and backache or leg pains.
One other possibility is a condition called menorrhagia, or prolonged menstruation, which is abnormally heavy blood loss and cramping that makes life increasingly difficult for the modern woman, but with solutions available, thanks to modern science.
This poor woman, whether the one condition or the other, found no relief of the physical pain and suffering she lived under. Either of these conditions are debilitating for the modern woman, yet for this woman, she was to experience additional sorrows we may not have considered. Let’s take a moment to consider this woman’s life in first century Judea.
We spoke of the pain above, but I would like to remind my readers that the pain she experienced was for twelve years. A modern woman has solutions to this pain, to the point of undergoing surgery to find relief. Not so for this poor woman, for she had exhausted all her medical options. She was desperate! No one was of any use to her! She had no hope.
We don’t know of this ladies financial standing twelve years before this meeting with the Lord, but we know of her economic status on that fateful day. Luke, (the beloved physician) flatly states
she had spent all her living on physicians
Mark adds an additional fact when he writes
spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse
This poor woman was poor! She lived in poverty and had no hope of finding any earthly resolve through physicians.
Let’s remember than many in our modern world would not experience the devastating financial impact of this condition since the advent of insurance policies and subsidized medical procedures. This poor woman had nothing left and no hope.
The rejection associated with this disease is surely not understood by our modern society, since we do not live under the law. But this lady did, and the impact was great!
An Old Testament passage specifically dealing with this woman’s condition may be found in Leviticus.
“If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean.
Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity.
And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.
But if she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean.
She was unclean and a carrier of uncleanness. Of no fault of her own, she became someone required to be alone, in order to protect others. This command was not related to a moral standard, (as in the ten commandments, such as thou shalt not kill) but to a physical cleanliness for the sake of the health of Israel.
Everything was contaminated by her. Her bed, her furniture, her loved ones. If she had been married, and possibly a mother, this disease would require her to be isolated from her God fearing family. The continual flow would have given no hope of reconciliation, and any short term stoppage would have only dashed her hopes again and again. She was to remain isolated for seven days beyond the stoppage, having the responsibility to stay away from other Israelites in order not to contaminate them.
Of course, this particular condition depended on the honesty of the woman, for it could be concealed. It was (to a point) a matter of conscience before God in keeping this regulation. Her isolation was a result of her being obedient to the law she lived under. It was the mark of a woman respecting the law of God.
Questions to Consider
Who were the audience?
This miracle occurred directly after Jesus delivered the demon possessed man, and the people of the Decapolis asked Him to leave. Returning to His base at Capernaum, a crowd greeted Him and His disciples. This was a crowd very familiar with the Master, having seen many of the miracles Jesus had performed, or at the very least had heard of this miracle worker. And why not, for out of the thirteen previous miracles, seven had been performed in Capernaum. Truly this city had much light shone on it during our Lord’s time on earth!
So we know the audience included a crowd familiar with Jesus, and of course the disciples were within ear shot of the Lord. The unnamed woman who received the miracle was in attendance of course, taking advantage of the multiple people to keep a low profile.
But there was one other person, who was certainly an anxious observer, one who also was facing a crisis, that Jesus seemed to consider worth waiting on for this woman.
When did the Lord perform this mighty work?
Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?
See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.
Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?
By all accounts, the Lord did not express any intention of healing this woman, and the entire miracle was predicated on the actions of this desperate woman, who determined the means and method of the healing. She fought through the crowd to touch the hem of His garment, after He agreed to go to Jairus’ home to see the daughter who on the brink of death. As a matter of fact, the daughter died during the healing of this woman.
Why did the Lord stop from his mission to heal Jairus daughter to heal this woman? Complete conjecture on my part, but notice that the woman’s disease had lasted twelve years, and Jairus daughter was a twelve year old girl. Considering the possibility that this woman was the girls mother, the entire family may have been destroyed by this issue of bleeding, for a synagogue leaders wife must surely follow the ordinances of the Lord and be separate from the family to keep them clean!
Certainly, as we discussed above, this woman was unclean according to the ceremonial laws of Leviticus, and this was known by only two people in the crowd. The woman and Jesus. By pushing through the crowd, this woman was contaminating every person she touched! She was to bear the burden of this action, but she was desperate. Her conscience was overridden by hope in this miracle worker.
By touching Jesus, He, by the law of God, had become ceremonially unclean, (if He had been a simple Jewish man). But this was not the case. He was not simply protected from uncleanness, but he cleansed those who reached out to Him. He is not an unwilling passive recipient of uncleanness, but an active distributor of His grace. Let me repeat this mantra, since it is a recurring theme in the life of our Savior.
He is not One who is reluctant in providing a saving act upon those who reach out to Him.
What was the message for the original audience?
The message to the woman?
First thing Jesus required was self identification of the one touching His garment. The question was baffling to all who heard Him, except for the “guilty” party. Jesus actually asked who touched Him twice. Her conscience must have struck hard at the sound of His voice, but she confessed her wrong doing. She declared in the presence of all the people why she touched Him. She came clean (in her conscience and her body) with her act of faith and confession.
Upon this public admission, Jesus followed the law’s commands and told her to go isolate for another 7 days, berating her for making Him unclean. Oh – I’m sorry – I was thinking of my natural reaction to someone interrupting my sanctified walk with the Messiah.
No no no – Our Savior surprised this lady, not only with the healing, but with His response.
Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace
I especially like the manner Matthew communicates the message of the Master to the woman.
Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.
To take heart, is another way of saying to be of good courage, or to be of good cheer. She came trembling to Jesus, and after facing Him, confessing her act, left with confidence and joy. And don’t forget – she was healed by a non-physician without permission or payment!
What is the message for us today?
No name people sometimes receive miracles. Although this woman took matters into her own hands, she is one of the few folks in the New Testament, receiving a miracle, that doesn’t have her name recorded. This is heartening for the “nobodies” in the body, those that haven’t become a name within Christianity, that haven’t attained to a professional status, or is well known for great ministry. You know the type, (unless you are one who is too busy for them).
Personally, my wife and I consider ourselves to be in this group of believers, those who have no name recognition, have no visible ministry, who plug along trying to please God in our silent efforts. Yet He loves us, and beyond that truth, He has shown us mercy in our lives.
A notable point of mercy was the healing of my favorite wife. Sweetie had been diagnosed with a fatal heart/lung condition by two different doctors, and in my trying to grapple with this news, it became obvious I had not fully absorbed the impact of this diagnosis. During a beautiful fall morning on the porch with our tea, I asked her what flowers she wanted in her garden the next year. She looked me in the eye and said it didn’t matter. She may not be around to enjoy the garden. I will never forget that morning! It finally sank in.
Multiple weeks later, the doctors, in tracking the disease, were confused in finding that the disease was no longer showing up in the testing. That was over ten years ago, and I am amazed at the mercy of God in providing my wife an extended stay on earth. And His mercy on me for letting me have her a bit longer!
He shows mercy in healing of the body. If you have been following Considering the Bible for a time, I assume you know I reject the charlatans that parade on TV, the internet and radio, making a living selling the name of Jesus the same as a bottle of snake oil, or promising health (and wealth) for only $49.95.
Yet Jesus shows mercy, in the quiet of our lives, without the need of fanfare or advertisements. As a miracle occurs, Jesus asks for public confession of the miracle and admission of any sin, in order to make the healing one which not only benefits the recipient, but glorifies God.
Have you experienced the healing mercy of God within your life? A healing of the body? A healing of the spirit? A healing of emotions. Share in the comment section below if you feel comfortable.
He is good and He is good all the time!
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