“And Jesus went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who 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.” - Mark 5:24-28
The world is full of people who are desperate for the healing touch of Jesus, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands and thousands of people have lost their lives or their loved ones. Many more have been hospitalized or endured long-term effects of the virus. Others have lost their jobs, businesses, or homes due to prolonged economic upheaval. Even those who remained healthy and employed likely experienced anxiety and isolation as COVID turned our lives upside down. The unnamed woman in today’s passage could identify with every form of suffering we have encountered over the past 18 months – physical, financial, and emotional.
In Jesus’ day, medical knowledge and treatments were extremely primitive by modern standards. Without vaccines, antibiotics, and surgical procedures, life expectancy was only 30-35 years. Compare that to our current average of 77.8 years. To prevent the spread of disease, those with skin conditions or any flow of blood were cast out of society. Forever. Quarantine was not a temporary precaution; it was a life sentence. The afflicted were forced to live in segregated colonies and announce their presence in public by crying “Unclean! Unclean!” Can you imagine how degrading and painful that must have been?
In today’s reading, Mark introduces a woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve long years. I suspect every female reader cringes at the very thought! Constant blood loss would have caused painful cramping, weakness, and exhaustion. In addition to the physical toll, this woman was isolated from her family and friends, her community. She would never marry or have children of her own. And, having spent all of her money on failed treatments, she was completely destitute. No wonder Mark tells us her hope was gone. Like Jairus, she had exhausted her strength and resources; there was nothing left to try. Except Jesus.
She, too, had heard tales of the man who healed all kinds of sickness and physical infirmity. She knew he had succeeded where every other physician and charlatan had failed. He was her only hope, but how could she get close to him? She was not allowed to walk freely through the streets. If she announced her presence, as required by law, she might be removed before she got anywhere near Jesus. If she didn’t cry “unclean” and someone recognized her condition, the consequences could be far more dire.
Once again, desperation led to a tremendous leap of faith. The law of man told this woman to accept her fate and stay home, but hope drew her to a much higher authority: the Healer-Teacher-Messiah. She was willing to risk everything, to pursue Jesus with all of her remaining strength, believing that one touch could change everything.
Reflect and Respond:
So many of us hide our desperation today. How could recognizing your deep need for Jesus lead you to a new hope? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Could you use some hope right now? Join Peter’s first audience—“elect exiles” undergoing persecution—and experience the apostle’s powerful call to follow Jesus in the midst of life’s challenges, knowing your Living Hope is not a distant one, but a daily, glorious, life-giving reality! This unique six-week study, A Living Hope: A Study of 1 Peter, helps you uncover the priceless promises written specifically to the struggling and the hurting, with pastoral gentleness and bold confidence for the future. This study of 1 Peter will help you become utterly convinced that Jesus is the only sure, true, incorruptible, and permanent hope for you.
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