The Gospel Reading: Mark 5.24-34 – Making a Connection
24And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.
25Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years.
26She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.
27She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak,
28for she said, ‘If I but grab his clothes, I will be made well.
29 Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
30Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’
31And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’
32He looked all round to see who had done it.
33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.
34He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’
Reaching out for Something
You may recognize this photo of a well-known local attraction. Recently, I witnessed a moving event in this car park. As I opened my car door, I heard a young man’s angry shouting at an older man. The language was very coarse and offensive. The old man was obviously trying to get away from the abuse. Then, up walked a woman, calling to the young man to give over. The man rebuked her, then justified his anger. She held on, and said “Tonight, you’ll feel ashamed when you remember how you bullied this old man.”
The young man fell totally silent for several seconds. He walked the distance to the other man, held out his hand, and said, “I’m sorry, that was completely out of order” He began to openly apologise to his victim. The older man also responded with an apology. Then, turning to the woman, the man said, “Thank you.” The young man, looked at the woman and said, “Thank you, miss.”
O for that spiritual moment when our emotional turmoil is silenced, and we make a grab for what we realise is the best way.
Making a Grab for the Power of Jesus
In this passage, Mark interweaves two stories in a wonderful way. A leader from the synagogue has asked for help. He is an outstanding and highly esteemed member of the community. A zealous keeper of Torah law. He is married and has a sick daughter, who Jesus has promised to visit.
The woman has a chronic bleeding problem. In Jewish society, this makes her unclean, an untouchable. She, almost certainly, will never have been able to marry and have children.
No hugs and no kisses. The woman, by law, has to be shunned – totally avoided.
In these verses, she has concealed herself in the midst of a crowd and transgressed Torah. She is terrified of being found out, but, in sheer desperation, is convinced that if she can make a grab for the Galilean Rabbi, something will flow from Him to restore her.
She has nothing to trade for His help other than childlike trust.
Mark, the Gospel Writer, reveals a Messiah who is there for Everybody
The Lord responds with love and tenderness – he uses a term of endearment, “Daughter…” Jesus brings her peace; breathing Shalom into her, and then declaring her whole and restored. This is a Rescuer who refuses to be stopped by anything. There is no ceremony here, no religious procedures, no dignified approach nor humble request – only a soul that longs for the touch of Lord and reaches out. This attitude of heart is irresistible to the God who is love.
There is nothing about you or me which will ever make Him hold Himself back from our sincere, seeking hearts! O to believe and feel that connection to the Son of God.
The Prayer of Humble Access (From the Book of Common Prayer 1662)
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness,
but in thy manifold and great mercies.
We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table.
But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy:
Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood,
that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood,
and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.