Scripture: Mark 5:21-43
Key verse: (34) “He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’”
Reflection: I have an early memory of the way my parents would leave the house when they went out on a date. When the babysitter would arrive, my sister and I would usually be bathed and eating dinner, and my mother would talk to her about the evening. Even though my mother was talking to the babysitter, we all knew the conversation was really for the benefit of my sister and me. As she communicated how the evening should go, we learned what to expect, and how we should act.
It can be odd to encounter a question on Jesus’ lips in scripture as we do in this healing story from Mark 5, but I wonder if something similar is going on in this text. A woman who has been suffering for 12 years of a bleeding disorder makes her way through the crowd to Jesus, and in a desperate attempt to be made well, touches his hem. The text tells us that she immediately feels in her body that she has been healed. That is one piece of the healing that takes place in the story – healing of her physical ailment. But remember that a woman suffering in this way would also have been marginalized from society in every way – seen as unclean, untouchable, beyond repair, without a voice. And so, when Jesus turns and asks, “Who touched me?” it isn’t so much that he is actually unsure of her identity and asking for information as it is a desire to make the healing complete – not just physical, but relational. The woman is both healed and made whole, restored to life in every way.
The healed woman’s courage in this passage is astounding. Not only does she seek her own healing, but she fights through fear (v33) to stand before Jesus and the crowd around him and identify herself as the one who touched him. That is when he says to her, in the hearing of his disciples, the leaders of the synagogue, and everyone else in that crowd, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Of course this was for her benefit. Jesus goes beyond the physical healing to offer her dignity and relationship. But I wonder if the blessing he spoke over her isn’t equally for all who overheard it that day, and overhear it now. Here is Jesus, reminding us again that those who have been marginalized, ignored, deemed unclean, unworthy, or un-loveable actually have central place in the kingdom of God. That those who have suffered without relief, that those who have audaciously reached out for healing, that those who have fought through fear to stand and be known by God are those who are held as examples for all of us who wish to follow this wild and wonderful healer. May we read this story about Jesus, and be reminded of what to expect from him, so that we then might think about how he invites us to act.
Prayer: O God, grant me courage to seek after you, and to hear what you have to say to me, that I might be reoriented by your good and challenging news. Amen.
Author: Anna Dickson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].