“If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” (Mark 5:28)
In the kingdom, no individual is small.
No one gets lost in the crowd. One person, even one whom society has labeled worthless or impure, looms large in the Father’s sight. The power of one small, helpless unspoken plea.
In Mark 5:21–43, wedged into the story of a high-profile healing, we find the story of a nameless woman who suffered from an undiagnosed illness.
We only have a snapshot of her. She appears on the scene briefly. We know one fact about her: She had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. Because of the ritual impurity her condition entailed, we know that for 12 years, no one has touched her. If a man had brushed up against her, he would have been made unclean because of her impurity.
Imagine the times over the last 12 years that she had accidentally defiled a man. Imagine her humiliation and shame as the man scolded her and demeaned her. He would have had to rush home, tear off his defiled clothes, and cleanse himself in an elaborate ceremony. It was very inconvenient to be touched by this impure one. Surely she had learned to hide herself even in crowds. Surely she had learned to gather her garments in closely, to cover her face, to become invisible.
Before we look at her story, notice how her story is framed. The framing of a picture brings out the details, focuses the eye. Look how her story is framed: It is framed by the story of Jairus.
Jairus, a leader in the synagogue—an important man, a man of influence—burst through the crowd that mobbed Jesus and, tossing aside all pride and dignity, threw himself at Jesus’ feet. No doubt the crowd parted for such an esteemed man as Jairus.
“Look! Here comes Jairus! Make a way for Jairus!” they might have said. No doubt they stared as he humbled himself and begged the Teacher, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live” (Mark 5:23). Jairus was a daddy, and his little daughter was dying.
If you’re a daddy, and your little daughter is dying, then no price is too high, no sacrifice too great. You’ll do anything. You’ll forget all your pride and position. You’ll ignore every other duty. If you’re a daddy, and your little daughter is dying.
The crowd followed as Jesus headed for Jairus’ house. They were not a quiet, sedate crowd. They were calling His name and reaching out to grab hold of Him; talking and shouting and clamoring for His attention. As they moved in the direction of Jairus’ little daughter, I imagine that the crowd grew as the word went out, “Jairus’ little daughter is dying! Rabbi Jesus is going to her! Come along!”
A woman stood on the fringes, watching. Alone. Unclean. Her uncleanness might rub off on anyone she came in contact with, and that person would be forced to go through a time-consuming cleansing ritual to wash away the stigma of her touch.
She had learned to be careful in public, avoiding brushing up against another person. But a thought kept worming its way into her imagination, “If I could just touch the hem of His garment, I would be made well.” The thought grew stronger until, in a moment of reckless hope, she began to work her way through the crowd. The crowd didn’t part for her as it had for Jairus. She prayed not to be noticed because to be noticed was to be rejected and humiliated.